As we enter the dog days of summer with the 2017 Phillies, it can be tough to find reasons to tune in every night. A struggling ballclub on their way to the worst record in baseball for the second time in three years, the Phillies are a team trying to figure out who they are.

More importantly, they are a team trying to figure out who they will become. Taking a look up and down the roster, it’s easy to wonder who will make up the next core of this team.

Names like J.P. Crawford, Tommy Joseph and Maikel Franco would have come to mind at the beginning of this season. However, with Crawford under performing in the minors, Franco under performing in the majors, and Joseph being mentioned in trade rumors, there’s now more doubt about their futures in Philadelphia.

Even if those three are not in Phillies pinstripes a few seasons from now, a recently called up prospect is making a name for himself and giving us glimpses into what he can be – Nick Williams.

Since being called up on June 30th, Williams has appeared in 14 games with a .292/.327/.500 triple slash line, 2 home runs, and 8 RBI. This comes on the heels of a productive season at Triple-A Lehigh Valley.

What I think is the most refreshing thing about Williams’ game is his hustle. If you recall, Williams was benched on a couple of occasions last season at Triple-A for NOT hustling.

Now, on every ball he hits, he is busting it down the first base line, trying to beat out the throw or force the fielder into a poor decision. It seems like the benchings got through to Williams.

So where does Williams fit into the future? After all, the Phillies have great depth in their outfield, a topic we discussed here at Philadelphia Sports Nation a few weeks ago.

In addition to the guys they already have at all levels of the organization, there is another name the Phillies will surely kick around at the end of the 2018 season – Bryce Harper.

I know, I know. Let’s not get carried away and start thinking about which free agent the Phillies will go after that offseason (Manny Machado will also be a part of that free agent class, and the duo of Matt Klentak and Andy MacPhail drafted Machado back in 2009 when they were a part of the Orioles organization).

But with Harper’s pedigree (2012 NL Rookie of the Year, 2015 NL MVP), and in the midst of another stellar season, his age (he’ll only be 26 to start the 2019 season), and the money the Phillies will have available for that class after contracts start falling off (like Ryan Howard’s), it’s a sure bet that Klentak and company would have to kick around the idea of going after Harper.

Whether or not they actually sign Harper, it will be fun to watch what happens. My thoughts? Nick Williams continues to impress and cements his spot in the outfield of the future.

Photo: Golden Blades (Via Flickr)

Joshua Fink

A lifelong Phillies fan with a passion for baseball.

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