This morning, the Phillies announced that they are inviting nine prospects not currently on the 40-man roster to major league camp.
#Phillies have announced the following nine players have been invited to major league spring training as non-roster invitees:— Phillies (@Phillies) January 6, 2016
RHP: Mark Appel, Zach Eflin, Jake Thompson C: Andrew Knapp, Gabriel Lino, Logan Moore 1B: Brock Stassi SS: J.P. Crawford OF: Nick Williams— Phillies (@Phillies) January 6, 2016
You'll likely notice that this list contains many of the names featured yesterday in Baseball Prospectus' list of the best prospects in the Phillies' system. Adding Roman Quinn and Jorge Alfaro, who are both already members of the 40-man roster, major league camp will now include seven of the ten players named in that particular top-10 list.
That the Phillies' top prospects will be rolling thick to the clubhouse of Bright House Field should come as little surprise. Much of the top talent in the Phillies system at this point played in the upper levels of the minors last year. With the exception of Ben Lively, all the near-majors prospects on that BP list are now confirmed attendees.
Yesterday, many of us on this site and in the comments expressed some level of confusion over Lively's inclusion among the top prospects in the system, and the Phillies inviting Zach Eflin to camp instead of Lively indicates that they would likely share in that confusion in a world in which they cared much about publicly available prospect lists.
Let's focus here on the four players invited to camp not discussed on the Baseball Prospectus list:
P Zach Eflin
Elfin coming to major league camp this year is no surprise. He made a start last Spring Training against the Pirates, which I was able to capture via grainy cell phone video from a sub-optimal vantage point. As a 21 year old, Eflin pitched 131.2 innings for AA Reading last year with a 3.69 ERA and 2.96 K/BB. With his fastball/changeup repertoire, he's not a strikeout pitcher, but can be effective at generating weak contact.
1B Brock Stassi
As a 25 year old, Stassi spent the entirety of 2015 with AA Reading where he hit .300/.394/.470 in 554 plate appearances. With neither Darin Ruf or Ryan Howard likely to provide much in the way of valuable contributions to the Phillies either immediately or in the future, it makes sense to throw another first baseman in the mix at Spring Training in the off chance that they catch lightning.
C Gabriel Lino
You might recognize Lino's name as part of the return for Jim Thome back in 2012. Still only 22, Lino split time between AA Reading and AAA Lehigh Valley in 2015, where he hit an unimpressive .234/.277/.329. Due to his defensive profile, he has a stronger reputation than those offensive numbers suggest, which perhaps explains why he has been notably young for his level at every minor league stop. He's likely in camp merely for depth to ease the burden on Carlos Ruis, Cameron Rupp, and J.P. Arencibia.
C Logan Moore
Like Lino, Logan Moore spent time in both AA and AAA for the Phillies last season. Unlike Lino, he was 24 years old, so those assignments were more typical for his age. His line was slightly more impressive than Lino, as he hit .253/.312/.349 over a mere 252 plate appearances. Moore also comes with a solid defensive reputation and will also likely be used to allow the major league relevant catchers to rest in Spring Training.
Although most, if not all, of these players will not open the season on the Phillies' roster, their inclusion provides yet another reminder that exciting days are afoot for Phillies fans as the last two years of rebuilding efforts are beginning to bear fruit on the major league roster. With the inclusion of all these top prospects, there is a strong case to be made that Spring Training will produce the most exciting games the Phillies play in 2016. What a time to be alive!