This time of year is always particularly exciting for me — I love roster battles, I love rooting for the most random guys, and I love hyping up any and every player that hits a singular Spring Training home run (I’m looking at you, Dylan Cozens...)
So, in the spirit of Phillies baseball beginning TOMORROW, let’s get to know your 2020 Non-Roster Invitees:
3B Alec Bohm (No MLB Stats)
Does he really need an introduction? The 6’5” third overall pick out of the 2018 draft has emerged as one of the game’s top prospects, and is flashing an elite bat that could potentially carry some MAJOR impact.
The question is not ‘if’ Alec Bohm will join the 2020 Phillies, but more a matter of ‘when.’
There is every possibility that, in the face of some jarring injury, Alec could break camp with the Major League squad — but, it’s more likely he starts the year in Triple-A Lehigh Valley, (silently being manipulated for service time) and then sees his first big-league at-bat somewhere around May/June.
I could not be more excited for this kid. He is a workhorse, and constantly looks to improve his game, thus leading me to believe that his defense at the hot corner will, eventually, improve.
Get ready, because the Bohm bomb will be dropping at some point in 2020.
C Christian Bethancourt (Career: 5 Yrs. -1.1 rWAR, .222/.252/.316, 8 HR, .567 OPS, 56 OPS+)
Bethancourt hasn’t seen a Major League at-bat in two years, but had a pretty decent showing in Triple-A with Milwaukee in 2018, where he slugged 20 long balls and had a reputable slash of .297/.328/.506.
He’s since been spending time in foreign leagues, and will attempt to battle against Andrew Knapp for a backup catcher spot in 2020.
It’s also worth noting, I guess, that Bethancourt tried his hand at pitching in the beginning of his career... but that didn’t go too well. That said, if the team runs out of bullpen arms, we know who to call on first.
INF Logan Forsythe (Career: 9 Yrs. 12.5 rWAR, .246/.327/.370, 70 HR, .698 OPS, 93 OPS+)
Forsythe is, all things considered, the ideal infield defenseman. He plays passable defense at all of 1B/2B/SS/3B, and could likely even slot into the outfield if need be.
The tradeoff here is that Forsythe (aside from two crazy outlier seasons in both 2015 and 2016) has always kind of stunk at the plate. He boasts a solid batter’s eye, but carries next-to no impact in terms of power, turning in sub-.400 SLG% in SEVEN of his nine Major League campaigns.
Most recently, Forsythe turned in a -0.2 rWAR season with the Texas Rangers, where he started super-hot, but fizzled into mediocrity as the year transpired. In the end, he slashed an underwhelming .227/.325/.353 with 7 home runs and a 73 OPS+.
If you’re looking for an impact bat... this ain’t it. However, if you’re looking for a multi-faceted defensive substitute, Logan Forsythe is your guy.
INF Phil Gosselin (Career: 7 Yrs. 0.6 rWAR, .263/.312/.355, 7 HR, .667 OPS, 78 OPS+)
You know him, you love him — Philly G is back, folks!
Will he make the Opening Day Roster? Of course not, but he’s always a pleasure to have around, and will surely see his fair share of reps down in Triple-A Lehigh Valley.
One important thing worth mentioning; Phil Gosselin was one of, if not THE best pinch-hitter for the Phillies in 2019 stat-wise, and the guy is known for his ability to come up in clutch situations — one key factor to his longevity in the Majors.
He may not see the 26-Man roster right off the bat, but, when rosters expand to 28 in September, you might just see Phil back in red pinstripes.
1B Darick Hall (No MLB Stats)
Move over, Dylan Cozens — Spring Training’s newest power threat is here, and his name is Darick Hall.
This mammoth of a human being weighs in at 6’4”, 236 lbs, and has mashed his way thru the Phillies’ Minor League system, racking up 84 long balls across 4 MiLB seasons.
Hall was a 14th round pick out of Dallas Baptist in the 2016 draft, and already has a list of accolades to his name. Not only was he an Eastern League All-Star in 2019, but Hall also managed to win the Eastern League Home Run Derby — a very cool accomplishment.
The 24 year-old has a great chance to start in Triple-A this year, and will surely slug a few impressive shots before Spring is out.
Keep your eye on this kid. While he may be edging on the cusp of non-prospect status, he’s a big bat from the left side, and could eventually make an impact with the big club.
INF Josh Harrison (Career: 9 Yrs. 13.1 rWAR, .273/.313/.401, 53 HR, .714 OPS, 94 OPS+)
I’ll say it outright — I have a soft spot for Josh Harrison. Back in the early 2010s, I absolutely loved watching this guy on the base paths. He’s intelligent, he’s tricky, and, most of all, he’s one of the nicest people I’ve ever had the pleasure of speaking to.
Josh plays a really solid 2B/3B, but has made it clear that he’ll slot in at shortstop, in the outfield, or wherever he can to help this team win. He features a contact-prone bat from the right side — something the Phillies could really use, as they’re light on right-handed bats off the bench.
Unfortunately, Harrison has spent the last few years working through some tough injuries, but he assured me when I spoke to him that he’s 100% healthy as he heads into 2020 — and he’s hungry for a spot on the 26-Man roster.
Harrison and current Philile, Andrew McCutchen, are best friends, and played together on the Pittsburgh Pirates for many years — along with fellow NRIs, Neil Walker and Francisco Liriano.
While he’s going to have to work hard to obtain a spot with this team, Harrison certainly won’t have any trouble fitting in, and I look forward to seeing what kind of show he puts on this Spring.
C Henri Lartigue (No MLB Stats.)
Lartigue is a defense-first catcher, and a pretty decent one at that. He put up a 34 CS% in Reading last year, and managed to only register 7 errors in his half-season.
The issue with Lartigue? The bat. He slashed .136/.259/.248 in Reading last year. That’s like, Jeff Mathis bad.
That said, everyone needs these kinds of guys in their system — but don’t expect too much here.
1B/3B/OF Austin Listi (No MLB Stats)
Another late-round product of Dallas Baptist, Austin Listi was a 17th rounder who has gone on to have an exceedingly impressive Minor League career.
The now 26 year-old has surely reached non-prospect status, but that hasn’t stopped him from swiftly rising through the ranks in the Phillies’ system.
Listi has been streaky throughout his career, but showed significant progress in his ascension to Triple-A in 2019. Over 78 games, he slashed a solid .278/.348/.490 with 12 home runs and an .838 OPS.
What’s even more impressive? Listi has flashed advanced plate discipline across multiple levels of the Minors, going as far as to feature a 62:94 BB:K ratio in 2018, and a 57:106 ratio across two levels in 2019.
There’s part of me that believes that Austin Listi can truly become a fixture in the Phillies’ future bench plans — especially with the recent addition of the 26th man. He plays mediocre defense at every one of his allotted positions, but the kid can hit, and has proven that across every last Minor League level.
OF Mikie Mahtook (Career: 5 Yrs. 0.6 rWAR, .235/.292/.405, 33 HR, .697 OPS, 87 OPS+)
At this point, Mahtook has been buried in the outfield pecking order by recent acquisition Kyle Garlick, and long-standing member of the Phillies 40-Man Roster, Nick Williams, as well as the slew of other outfielders that the Phillies have readily available — but he still exists!
The one edge that Mahtook has over his competitors is his ability to cover center field, which he does... semi-well.
The big question with the 30 year-old outfielder is whether or not he’ll stick around after not making the 26-Man roster, because there is next to no avenue in which he’ll be retained right off the bat.
We’ll see — miracles can happen!
OF Nick Martini (2 Yrs. 1.2 rWAR, .269/.372/.380, 2 HR, .751 OPS, 107 OPS+)
Martini wasn’t originally on this list — as he was claimed from the Cincinnati Reds last month, but then designated for assignment after the Phillies acquired Kyle Garlick earlier in February.
The 30 year-old has really hit his stride over the last few years, putting up very, very strong numbers in Triple-A over his last two seasons, (including a 50-game on-base streak in the Minors in 2019,) and even saw an extremely successful Major League stint with the Athletics in 2018.
While he’s been displaced by Kyle Garlick as the go-to Andrew McCutchen back-up, Martini has found a new role as the Roman Quinn back-up, should the reserve Center Fielder inevitably see injury.
Martini will likely stick it out in Triple-A this year, but he’s a solid depth piece to have lying in wait.
INF Nick Maton (No MLB Stats)
A consensus Top 20 prospect in the Phillies’ system, Nick Maton is a toolsy infielder that features impressive defensive mechanics, and primarily projects to be a big league utility-type moving forward.
While Maton has, thus far, proven to be an average hitter, he’s often praised for his impressive plate discipline, as well as his quick hands from the left side of the box.
It’s going to be interesting to watch him moving forward. If he can develop a decent bat and continue to hone in on his batter’s eye, we could be looking at a legitimate utility-type, which would give the Phillies some awesome flexibility when paired with the already exciting utility man, Scott Kingery.
The 23 year-old prospect is still a ways away from breaking into the Show — but he’ll be an interesting guy to watch this Spring.
OF Mickey Moniak (No MLB Stats)
Ah yes, the infamous first overall who everyone loves to hate.
Look, you may not want to hear it, but Mick turned in a career year in Reading last year, and has seemingly bulked up quite a bit during the offseason. In addition, he carries a great head on his shoulders, and still has the ability to be a plus center fielder with solid speed and a sweet swing.
I’m not going to sit here and stand on my soapbox, preaching to you all as to why you should believe in Mickey and “not lose hope just yet,” but that would be futile. So, instead, I’ll let him show you what he can do this Spring, and upon his entry to Triple-A this year.
OF Matt Szczur (Career: 5 Yrs. -0.8 rWAR, .231/.312/.355, 12 HR, .666 OPS, 80 OPS+)
Like his outfield counterpart, Mikie Mahtook, Szczur is a bit far down on the list as to outfielders to be added to the 40, let alone the 26-Man rosters.
However, Szczur is a local product from Villanova, and is more likely than Mahtook to stick around after final roster decisions are made.
We’ll see where he ends up, and, should he decide to stay with the club, I’m sure he’ll have many a Villanova fan rooting for him!
INF Ronald Torreyes (Career: 5 Yrs. 1.2 rWAR, .279/.308/.370, 4 HR, .678 OPS, 80 OPS+)
Though it feels like he’s been playing forever... Ronald Torreyes is only 27 years-old. How ‘bout that?
Torreyes was outstanding throughout his career as a Yankee — and his old skipper, Joe Girardi, wanted to bring him over to Philadelphia, so here he is!
While he’s not likely to make the Opening Day roster, I’m sure Ronald wouldn’t mind hanging out in Triple-A, as he only managed to reach the Majors with the Twins for 7 games last season, and is looking to reestablish himself as a Major League utility man.
Torreyes is a defense-first guy, but carries a contact-prone bat with the ability to move runners over, as he hardly strikes out.
He’ll serve as solid depth, should something unforeseen occur to any of Jean Segura, Scott Kingery, or Didi Gregorius, and is sure to hit it off with the Phillies’ brand new manager this Spring.
1B/3B/OF Neil Walker (Career: 11 Yrs. 21.7 rWAR, .267/.339/.426, 149 HR, .766 OPS, 110 OPS+)
Perhaps the most likely of all to make the Major League Roster, this 34 year-old veteran is coming off of an impressive season in Miami, and is the current favorite for one of the Phillies, presumed, two infield bench spots.
Walker, who bats from both sides, was supremely impressive off of the bench for the Marlins last season. He hit .324/.425/.588 with 2 long balls in pinch-hit scenarios, and will look to carry those kinds of numbers over to the Phillies bench this year. Stats like that from a switch-hitter? Count me in.
Walker primarily plays both 1B and 3B, though he also saw some time at his old position in 2B last year. He also could, and likely will, shift to the corner OF spots if need be, as he played both positions in 2018.
As far as bench bats go, Walker is surely the one to beat as Spring Training games commence — but we’ll see how he goes over the next month or so.
INF/OF Luke Williams (No MLB Stats.)
Williams was a third round pick for the Phillies out of the 2015 draft, and, while he’s struggled at the plate, boy can this kid fly.
The toolsy utility man has managed to rack up 93 stolen bases over his brief five-year stint in the Minors, and 30 of those stolen bases came just last year in Double-A Reading. He’s got some serious speed.
It’s also worth mentioning that Williams can play nearly every single position — aside from catcher, that is. He saw time at all of 1B/2B/SS/3B/LF/RF/CF last year, and the plan is to continue with him on this super-utility path.
Williams has also shown a significant increase in pop as he’s aged. The 6’1” righty slugged 11 homers last year in Reading, and 9 the year before in Clearwater. He also does not appear to be too swing-happy, as his strikeout-to-walk numbers aren’t particularly jarring.
If he can figure out his hit tool, Williams has the potential to be a legitimate piece, so keep your eye on him this Spring.
And there you have it! All 15 of the candidates competing for a spot on the Phillies’ bench — and a spot in your heart — in 2020.
My personal preference for a Phillies bench, were the season to start tomorrow:
C Andrew Knapp (ugh) — Switch
1B/OF Jay Bruce — Left
CF Roman Quinn — Switch
INF Neil Walker — Switch
INF Josh Harrison — Right
With that, I’ll pose a question to you, reader; who of these 15 do you want to see break camp with the Phillies? Let me know down below!
Baseball is here folks. We get to watch an actual GAME tomorrow, and I could not be more excited. Let’s go Phils!