Losing 2020 as a minor league season hurt many players. It was a lost season of development, of getting plate appearances against live pitching that wasn’t your own and altogether just not being able to play baseball was an issue. Sure some players went to “summer camp” (I still hate that term) and got to get some instruction from the big league coaching staff, but even then, unless they were put on the roster, they just had to keep doing simulated situations as a way to save some face.
Simon Muzziotti could have used 2020 to develop some more. Prior to this spring training, center field looked like the easiest way to get to the majors for Muzziotti since it was the one outfield spot not locked down headed into spring training. Not being able to secure a visa to enter the country until March put a wet towel on that fire, but it isn’t like he was going to leapfrog anyone on the depth chart anyway. Not getting at bats in 2020 really hurt him as the team, though they put him on their 40-man roster, still is trying to figure out what they have in him moving forward.
What could go right in 2021
So the thing that could go right for Muzziotti is the same thing I wrote about Nick Maton: get consistent at bats in the minor leagues this year to enter 2022 fighting for one, maybe two, outfield spots in Philadelphia. Meghan Montemurro wrote as much in her preview about fall instructs:
The Phillies have a glut of youngish outfielders in the upper tiers of the minors and at the big-league level, but none of them (Adam Haseley, Roman Quinn, Mickey Moniak and Scott Kingery) have really established themselves as complete players. There’s an opportunity for Muzziotti to develop into that guy in center field. Muzziotti hit .287/.337/.372 with Clearwater last year; if he can add some more strength and power, he becomes an intriguing player to watch next year.
Now, it did start with fall instructs for Muzziotti, where he went and did well. But he just really, really, really needs to play because the team needs to see what they have in him.
What could go wrong in 2021
The minor league season is already cut down from it normally is and that isn’t good for development. It’s great that the team is prioritizing health of the players (finally), but there are still somewhere between 15-25 games missing off of the schedule. A player like Muzziotti could have used those games to show what he could do and now they’re gone. That’s a shame.
What would also be a shame would be an injury to Muzziotti. He cannot survive this 40-man roster churn if he misses significant time due to some kind of injury. So just like pretty much every player at the bottom half of the group, he needs a healthy productive minor league season that isn’t interupted by any kind of protocol breach or something of that nature.