The year is 2021 and the fans of Philadelphia are packing into Citizens Bank Park, eagerly awaiting the first pitch of the new season. Last year, the Phillies got their first taste of post-season baseball since the 2011 season, but this year they are primed to make a deep October run. The excitement is electric at the sold out stadium and the atmosphere of meaningful baseball fills the air in South Philadelphia once again. The question is, who is on the field? Which players from today’s team will be out there when the Phillies return to the top of the MLB? Lets take a look at the current 25 man roster and try to predict who might be out there. I’m going to highlight players and place them into one of three categories: For Sure, Maybe, and No Chance. I’m going to skip over some of the guys that obviously won’t be here and try to focus on what is considered the core of this season’s squad.
- Aaron Nola – The people who were jumping off the Aaron Nola boat after last season are now frantically trying to find a spot back on. Nola has been can’t miss television lately, as he posted a 3-1 record with a sizzling 1.32 ERA in the month of July. The 24-year-old from Louisiana has the stuff to be the future ace of the Phillies rotation. If he is out of the picture by the next time the Phillies are contenders, something went horribly wrong.
- Nick Williams – We’ve sure gotten past the concerns about lack of effort in AAA for Nick Williams. In fact, Nick has turned into a bright spot for this Phillies team and has been one of the most exciting players to watch both at the plate and in the field. If he continues to put in work and put forth the effort he has shown thus far, he will be a regular outfielder for the next Phillies playoff team.
- Aaron Altherr – Aaron Altherr may be the most underrated player on the Phillies. Batting .285 with 16 homers and 49 RBI, Aaron has solidified himself as a middle of the order bat for the Phils. The question that remains is his health. Missing much of the 2016 season with a torn tendon in his wrist, and two trips to the DL this season as well, there are legitimate concerns there. If Aaron can manage to keep himself healthy, he will play an integral role on the next Phillies playoff team.
- Maikel Franco – Maikel Franco was once thought of as the future face of the franchise for the Phillies organization. We have been waiting for him to break out the last two seasons and show us that he can be the player to carry the team for years to come. Unfortunately Maikel hasn’t been able to take that next step and has been inconsistent at the plate thus far. Charlie Manuel recently said on WIP that he still thinks Franco could be a .300 average and 30 home run guy. If Chuck isn’t ready to give up on him, I won’t either.
- Odubel Herrera – It’s not the bat flipping or lack of hustle that puts Odubel on the ‘Maybe’ list. While it doesn’t help his case in the eyes of some fans, Odubel also has the problem of the eventual logjam of outfield talent. Altherr and Nick Williams are establishing themselves in the corner outfield positions, and the Phillies 2016 top pick CF Mickey Moniak will be working his way through the system soon enough. Additionally, Adam Haseley, the Phillies 2017 first round pick, will also be looking for some outfield to patrol at the Bank. Odubel is a solid player who sometimes makes bone headed mistakes, but with the talent coming through the system he might have trouble finding a spot in the outfield.
- Jerad Eickhoff – Eickhoff has had a very difficult season. With a 2-7 record and 4.56 ERA, he has been nothing to write home about. It’s never good to see a guy take a step back from the previous season, but unfortunately that’s where we are with Eickhoff right now. I still think he has the ability to be a middle to end of the rotation starter. Hopefully he can put this season behind him and come out next year ready to take a big step forward.
- Vince Velasquez – Vince is a tough one to decide. I ultimately think he will be around when we are in contention, but i’m not as sure about the role he will have. We’ve seen flashes of dominance from Vince, but we’ve also seen control trouble and early exits. If he can work on command and locate his pitches consistently, he will be an asset to the staff whether it be out of the pen or starting.
- Andrew Knapp – Its too early to make a decision about Andrew Knapp. The rookie has had his struggles both at the plate and behind the dish, but it’s rare for a rookie to not go through that. I think Andrew will be around when the Phillies are contending, most likely as a backup to Jorge Alfaro.
- Cameron Rupp – Cameron has done a good job since taking over for Chooch, but the writing is on the wall for the end of his time in Philadelphia. The 28 year old is splitting time with Andrew Knapp this season, and ultimately Knapp or Jorge Alfaro will take over as the permanent starter.
- Cesar Hernandez – Cesar started the year off on a hot streak at the plate. He makes a great double play tandem with Freddy Galvis and has put together some good at bats thus far. The problem for Cesar is going to be Scott Kingery. If Kingery continues to excel and advance through the Phillies system, Hernandez will be on his way out sooner than later.
- Tommy Joseph – Its not that Tommy Joseph is a horrible player, he simply isn’t good enough to be the long term solution at first base. Rhys Hoskins has been knocking on the door for a better part of the last two seasons, and Joseph is the guy that is blocking him. Although the Phillies are experimenting with Hoskins in the outfield, with the organizational depth at the outfield positions it doesn’t feel like that will be the right fit. Eventually the Phillies will be inclined to call up Hoskins, and it doesn’t sound like Pete Mackanin is interested in a platoon situation at first base. Expect Joseph to be benched or shipped off when that time comes.
- Freddy Galvis – Freddy has been one of the most valuable players for the Phillies this season. Not only has he had a solid season offensively, but he’s having a gold glove caliber season defensively and has become a leader in the clubhouse. If you watch games consistently, you’ve seen some absolute magic at short from Freddy. The reason he is on the ‘No Chance’ list is because of J.P. Crawford. If things go as the Phillies hope, J.P. will be a major part of contending teams in the future. While putting him at second base is an option, with guys like Scott Kingery lingering in the farm, Freddy could find himself the odd man out.
Featured Image: Peter Bond