Yesterday, as part of our 2020 Phillies preview, we peered into the possible breakout candidates that this brand new season has to offer. Today, we’ll explore some of the impact prospect bats that lie in wait — some of which have put on an absolute show thus far in Spring Training.
(Same precursor as yesterday; this list does not include Alec Bohm. Yes, he’s an excellent prospect. Yes, I think he’s going to thrive at the Major League level. Yes, I’m in love with him. You just don’t need to hear that for the zillionth time — cool? Cool.)
INF Austin Listi
Over the last two years, Austin Listi has emerged as one of the Phillies biggest, and most welcome surprises.
A 17th round draft pick out of Dallas Baptist, Listi truly “broke out” in 2018, after he went berserk across two levels of Minor League ball. He slashed an impressive .312/.412/.502 with 18 home runs, and a mature 62:94 BB:K ratio across both High-A and Double-A ball — solidifying his “one to watch” status.
However, things began to slow for Listi at the start of 2019, as he turned in a mediocre 62 game stint with Reading to begin his third year in Pro Ball.
Thankfully, the drought didn’t last long.
After he transitioned to Triple-A Lehigh Valley in the second half of the year, Listi caught fire once more, slugging his way to a .278/.348/.490 slash alongside 12 long balls over 71 games. Once again, he proved that he has what it takes to compete as a true Major League piece.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to stand on a soap box and preach that Austin Listi will shock the world upon his call-up to the Majors — but the kid sure can swing the bat. Plus, he carries with him some slight positional versatility, as he’s seen reps at both first and third base, as well as the corner outfield — though he’s not particularly adept at any position defensively.
It is very possible that, once rosters expand to 28 in September, we’ll be seeing Austin Listi vie to claim a spot on the lengthened bench — and, should all bode well for him, we might even see him as a front runner for a bench spot out of the gate in 2021.
Keep your eyes peeled — this 26 year-old righty is closer than one might think.
OF Mickey Moniak
For whatever reason, the Phillie fan base loves to hate Mickey Moniak — but the first overall pick from 2016 looks to be on the verge of proving his many doubters wrong.
At just 22 years-old, Moniak has steadily risen thru the ranks of the Phillies system over the years, and could very well find himself as the starting center fielder for the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs from the get-go in 2020.
After putting up a career year in Double-A in 2019, Mickey has quietly impressed thus far in Spring Training, as he boasts an OPS in excess of 1.000, and seems to have made progress towards combating one of his greatest vices — his plate discipline. Across 13 games this Spring, Moniak has walked 5 times, compared to a measly 2 strikeouts — a welcome sight indeed.
It’s also worth noting that Moniak has significantly bulked up since his last appearance in Major League camp — and even since his underwhelming appearance in the Arizona Fall League. The guy is an absolute workhorse, and has been training day in and day out in order to “live up to the hype,” as it were.
A lot would have to go wrong in order for Mick to see any kind of time in the Majors during the 2020 season. The Phillies have a great deal of center field depth, both on the current Major League roster, as well as stashed away within the system. That said, should something unforeseen occur, Moniak is definitely an option, and will surely be ready to give it his all, should that faithful day arrive.
C Deivy Grullon
At this rate, Phillie fans are willing to do whatever it takes to see Andrew Knapp displaced as the Phillies’ go-to backup catcher — and they might not have to wait much longer, thanks to this guy.
Deivy Grullon had himself a monster year in Triple-A Lehigh Valley in 2019, and even saw a bit of playing time in the Majors last September, where he was slightly less impressive.
Grullon’s 2019 in the Minors consisted of a .283/.354/.496 slash, as well as 21 home runs, and an .851 OPS — not bad for a guy who’s being considered for a backup catcher spot, right?
While Andrew Knapp is, currently, a better defender than Grullon, and also has the advantage of being more familiar with the current pitching staff — it goes without saying that, should anything happen to Knapp or, god forbid, JT Realmuto, Deivy will be the first guy that the Phillies call to fill in the blanks.
If Andrew Knapp even comes close to repeating his abysmal 2019 in 2020, he’ll be an easy non-tender next winter — thus leaving Deivy Grullon as the clear runway for the go-to backup backstop position in 2021.
Hopefully Grullon will do a better job of saving JT Realmuto’s knees from completely disintegrating... that is, if the Phillies manage to finally get that extension done.
Honorable Mentions: Darick Hall, Nick Maton, Luke Williams
These three bats represent a small sample size of the prospect depth the Phillies have waiting to take the stage in 2020 — but, we’d love to know, do YOU have a favorite prospect that is waiting to make an impact this season? Let us know down below!
Baseball is getting closer. We’re almost there — just two more weeks!