PHILADELPHIA -- A few injured Phillies are progressing and could rejoin the club in the coming weeks. Any prospect reinforcements, however, are likely further away.General manager Matt Klentak dismissed the notion that big leaguers are being evaluated with prospects like J.P. Crawford and Nick Williams in mind. MLBPipeline.com pegs Crawford
PHILADELPHIA -- A few injured Phillies are progressing and could rejoin the club in the coming weeks. Any prospect reinforcements, however, are likely further away.
General manager Matt Klentak dismissed the notion that big leaguers are being evaluated with prospects like J.P. Crawford and Nick Williams in mind. MLBPipeline.com pegs Crawford as the No. 3 prospect in baseball, while Williams checks in at No. 58. They are ranked as the Phillies' Nos. 1 and 3 prospects, respectively.
"We recognize with J.P. that he's 21 years old, he just got to Triple-A a month ago and he's still very much in the development phase of his career," Klentak said before Friday's game against the D-backs. "Nick's 22 years old in Triple-A. He and J.P. both are among the youngest in that entire league."
Crawford, in a month with Lehigh Valley, has struggled, posting a .556 OPS through his first 24 games and 90 at-bats. On Wednesday, Crawford had his best game since being promoted, going 3-for-3 with a pair of doubles.
Williams, after getting off to a slow start, has improved of late. He's hitting .284 with seven home runs in 215 at-bats, though he still has a 60/15 strikeout-to-walk ratio. IronPigs manager Dave Brundage benched Williams the past two games for showing a lack of hustle. He didn't directly consult with Klentak on the decision, but the Phils' GM was aware and doesn't believe it will be an issue going forward.
"I think Dave has handled it very well, and I think Nick has handled it very well," Klentak said. "Water under the bridge."
Klentak is in no rush to get players to the show. He needs to see them develop and, preferably, he said, get a full season's worth of at-bats at one level. Williams spent all of 2015 at Double-A. Between 2015 and '16, Crawford got close to 500 ABs with Reading.
There are scenarios, though rare, in which a player can force a promotion. Dylan Cozens, rated by MLBPipeline.com as the Phillies' No. 22 prospect, could be making that case at Double-A Reading. He's torn the cover off the ball all season, slugging 19 home runs in 252 at-bats while maintaining a .294 average.
Still, Klentak said there are no imminent plans to promote Cozens to Triple-A.
Dalier Hinojosa, who has been sidelined since April 30 with a bruised right hand, threw a 30-pitch live BP session in Clearwater on Friday. He is expected to begin a rehab assignment at Clearwater next week. … Aaron Altherr is "feeling great … making progress every day" and is still on schedule for a late-season return. He is recovering from surgery on his left wrist, which he injured in Spring Training. … Vince Velasquez has bullpen sessions scheduled for Friday and Sunday, though the Phillies are not rushing him back. With nothing serious showing in his right arm on his MRI, the Phillies are taking his DL stint as an opportunity to limit his innings -- something that would have happened later in the season, regardless.
Following Thursday's 13-2 loss to the Blue Jays, the Phillies optioned reliever Colton Murray to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. In need of fresh bullpen arms, they recalled Severino Gonzalez in a corresponding move prior to Friday's game.
"We needed an arm, Murray threw three days in a row," manager Pete Mackanin said. "We got into a little bit of a rut where we were going to the bullpen a bit, so we needed a fresh arm. Hopefully we won't need one after today."
Gonzalez transitioned from the rotation into the bullpen this season. In 44 innings between Double- and Triple-A, Gonzalez has posted a 3.07 ERA with 34 strikeouts to eight walks.
Murray was recalled when Hinojosa was placed on the DL. In 23 innings, he had a 4.30 ERA. He allowed all three runners he inherited in Thursday's loss to score.
Evan Webeck is a reporter for MLB.com based in Philadelphia.