As has been tradition for the previous few seasons, there is one major thing to look forward to when it comes to the Phillies: September prospect promotions.
The 2013 season was technically the first year of the rebuild and, in September of that year, we got to see some of the current-day Phillies such as Cameron Rupp, Cesar Hernandez, Freddy Galvis, and Luis Garcia. It was Rupp’s cup of coffee in the bigs while Hernandez, Galvis, and Garcia had all seen some time with the Phils prior to September.
September of 2014 brought us our first glimpse of Maikel Franco. Rupp and Hernandez were both brought up for the second September in a row before eventually sticking with the big club the following spring.
2015 was just downright awful in terms of September promotions. Colton Murray, Erik Kratz, Dalier Hinojosa, Brian Bogusevic, Nefi Ogando, David Buchanan, and Ken Roberts were all called up within a week of each other. These promotions pretty much sum up the Phillies in 2015.
Last September was when we finally got to see some potential future pieces in September. That’s right, Darin Ruf, Phil Klein, and Cody Asche were all promoted in Sep... OK so I’m getting word that Ruf is in Korea, Klein is in Japan, and Asche is with the White Sox triple-A affiliate.
Anyways, Jorge Alfaro and Roman Quinn were both promoted from Reading for their glimpse at what it’s like in the majors. Alfaro played in just six games while Quinn played in 15 games.
This year may be a bit different than previous years given the Phillies 40-man crunch. They most likely will not promote a prospect unless they are already on the 40-man or need to be placed on the 40-man to be protected from the Rule 5 Draft this offseason.
The obvious September call-up was Rhys Hoskins, but he has already earned a promotion.
Hoskins’ promotion turns the attention to another highly-touted prospect who is in triple-A: J.P. Crawford. The Phillies 2013 first round selection struggled for the first half of the season and was subsequently knocked down a number of midseason prospect lists, most notably Baseball America’s where he was ranked 92nd after beginning the year as their no. 12 ranked prospect. Crawford has turned it around immensely since missing a week and a half in June due to a groin injury. He is hitting .283/.383/.565 with 11 2B, 5 3B, and 11 HR since returning from the aforementioned injury on June 20.
Crawford must be added to the Phillies 40-man roster at the end of the season for Rule 5 protection. That, coupled with his resurgence in triple-A and the fact that the Phillies only have 39 players on their current 40-man roster, gives him a good shot at being a September call-up.
Dylan Cozens is another candidate to be promoted in September. He has really struggled over the past month and a half as he’s slashing .179/.290/.299 with just one double and five home runs since July 1. In that 38-game span, he has racked up an 18:64 BB:K ratio. He is already on the 40-man roster, however, so the Phillies wouldn’t be wasting another spot for someone who needs to be protected.
The last month of the triple-A season will be the deciding factor as to whether or not the Phillies reward him with a September promotion.
Jake Thompson has gone through his fair share of struggles in triple-A this season. He looks to be headed towards career worsts in ERA, walks, and hits allowed while he already has surpassed his career high in runs allowed. He made a spot start when Jeremy Hellickson was scratched before ultimately being traded and looked good in it, so the Phillies kept him for at least one more start. In that start, however, he struggled and was then sent back to triple-A.
Last season, Thompson was shut down in September on an innings limit. This season, with Lehigh Valley now on the verge of possibly missing the playoffs, we may see the Phillies take a longer look at some minor league arms in both the bullpen and rotation. Jake Thompson could be one of them if he isn’t already on the roster given Vince Velasquez’s injury.
A guy in practically the same boat as Thompson is Ben Lively. Lively looked pretty good in his short 7-start stint with the Phillies earlier this summer, but has struggled a bit since returning to triple-A. In the seven starts while back in Lehigh Valley, Lively has compiled a 4.20 ERA (19 ER) in 40.2 IP with 15 walks and 37 strikeouts.
Lively could be the one to get starts while Velasquez is on the DL, so it’s possible we won’t have to wait until September to get another look at Lively.
Other possible promotions: Yacksel Rios, Andrew Pullin
Scott Kingery has dominated the minor leagues across two levels this season. He’s slashed a combined .307/.360/.551 in double-A and triple-A and has taken his power to a new level as he has hit 24 of his 32 career minor league home runs this season. His approach at the plate has regressed since moving up to Lehigh Valley, but that is to be expected for a newly-promoted prospect. In Reading, Kingery sported a 28:51 BB:K ratio, but during his time with the IronPigs he has just 7 walks as compared to 41 strikeouts.
You’d think Kingery would be rewarded with a September promotion given his breakout season, but he doesn’t need to be added to the 40-man roster until 2018. The Phillies will be roster crunching when it comes time to finalize the 40-man, so there is no point in promoting Kingery this September.
Drew Anderson is the next potential candidate. He was promoted to give the Phils an extra arm in the bullpen a few weeks ago and actually threw an inning, but it is still murky as to whether they want to give Anderson another look in the majors. He is in his first full season since returning from Tommy John surgery in May of 2016. This is the main reason the Phillies would have to not promote him in September.
He’s had a rather consistent year in Reading. He has logged 107.2 innings in 21 starts and has compiled a 3.59 ERA. The Phillies may want to be cautious with his usage, so September is a question mark for Anderson.
Other doubtful promotion: Elniery Garcia
Injured, so Probably Not
Roman Quinn had a good shot at being promoted in September, if not earlier, but he injured his left elbow back in the beginning of June. The last update on Quinn was from Matt Gelb of Philly.com in his story on August 11. Here’s the update:
He might not return from a ligament injury to his non-throwing elbow before the minor-league season ends. The Phillies still do not believe he’ll require surgery. They’ll push him toward winter ball. But, again, another lost season.
Alberto Tirado was moved to the bullpen full time earlier this season while still in Clearwater. He then was bumped to Reading, appeared in 10 games, sported a 6.75 ERA, and injured himself. Tirado is already on the 40-man roster so there wouldn’t have been any obstacle to clear when promoting him.
Mark Appel is the other notable prospect who probably would have been brought up in September or sooner but is now injured. Appel still hasn’t been able to figure it out in the rotation, so a bullpen experiment beginning next year is looking like a real possibility.