Now who says the Phillies wait too long to promote “the prospects?” 26-year-olds Cameron “Cam” Perkins (OF) and Hoby Milner (LH RP) get the call in what could be the first wave of young players to test their mettle in the big leagues these last few months of the season.
First, Cam Perkins has long since shown offensive skills at the plate with an above average OPS (.755) across six minor league seasons. The last two seasons he has toiled in AAA to moderate success. This season, he is slashing .298/.388/.476 with six home runs in 208 at-bats. Perkins defensively is best suited for the corner outfield posts, but can play both CF and 1B in a pinch. However, this call-up will be more about showing he can be a useful bench piece moving forward. He isn’t as defensively inclined as Roman Quinn or Nick Williams, nor does he have the power of Dylan Cozens. Getting solid at-bats and not being a complete liability in the outfield will solidify his future moving forward.
Hoby Milner has had an interesting ride since being drafted by the Phillies in the 7th round of the 2012 MLB Draft. He was used nearly exclusively as a starter during the first three years of his professional career, with all sorts of issues finding the strike zone. Things didn’t really begin to click for the lefty until the 2016 season, when he saw both lowered his walk-rate and his K/9 explode. The Phillies nearly lost Milner in the Rule 5 Draft this past offseason to the Cleveland Indians; the Indians offered Milner back in late-March of this year, where he continued his time with the organization. Milner will be pretty noticeable on the mound when he makes his debut, given his curious side-arm delivery and feature a low 90’s fastball and slider combo.
To clear the way for this latest influx of younger talent, the Phillies parted ways with two of their biggest disappointments: Former closer Jeanmar Gomez and offseason signee Michael Saunders.
Gomez, in his third season (already?) in Philadelphia, continuously backslid, his numbers dipping almost universally. Save for a strange uptick in strikeouts, Gomez basically became untenable as a relief option in 2017. The only game he entered with an ERA below 7.00 was his first of the season, wherein he surrendered two earned runs in a nearly-blown save against the Reds. His final act as a member of the Phillies was to surrender a go-ahead home run to Rey Fuentes - the first of the D-backs outfielder’s career - in a loss to Arizona Sunday. The Phillies will, in all likelihood, eat what remains of Jeanmar’s $4.2M salary and cut the journeyman.
Saunders was acquired in free agency, a late winter pickup at what, at the time, appeared to be a considerable value. Saunders was an All-Star in 2016 after a terrific first half, but slumped terribly in the second half and carried that inertia over into his Phillies career. As other slumping Phillies hitters have shown signs of life at some point during this season, Saunders has been mostly lifeless at the dish. His .617 OPS only tops Andres Blanco among non-pitchers, and Andy happens to have “infield capability” to his advantage to carry his spot. Saunders is owed roughly $4M and change for the rest of this season, plus a $1M buyout on an $11M option that is most certainly not being exercised in this life. He, too, stands to be released in the absence of a willing trade partner.
With the two-for-two swap, the Phillies’ 40-man roster remains full. No word yet on the availability of Milner and Perkins for Tuesday’s game at home against the Cardinals, but the IronPigs are nearby in Pawtucket, Mass., so their presence would be expected.