With Spring Training fast approaching, MLB.com takes a look at a different aspect of this year's Phillies squad each day this week. Today's topic: Predicting the 25-man roster.
PHILADELPHIA -- So many things can and will happen from when Phillies pitchers and catchers hold their first official workout Tuesday in Clearwater, Fla., to Opening Day on April 3 in Cincinnati.
There will be injuries, surprises and disappointments.
But at the end of Spring Training, the Phillies will announce their Opening Day roster. It is early, but here is a pre-camp prediction of what it might be:
:: Spring Training 2017 preview ::
Catchers (2): Cameron Rupp will be the Opening Day catcher, and Andrew Knapp is the early leader for the backup job. But non-roster invitees Ryan Hanigan and John Holaday will make things interesting because of their experience. Manager Pete Mackanin has said a few times he would like a veteran backup catcher.
First base (1): Tommy Joseph. It's his job now that Ryan Howard is gone.
Second base (1): Cesar Hernandez. Can Hernandez replicate the success he had this past season, when he ranked 22nd in baseball with a .371 on-base percentage?
Third base (1): Maikel Franco. It's time for Franco to shine. He has All-Star potential, and he needs to show it.
Shortstop (1): Freddy Galvis. His 20 homers were nice, but his .274 on-base percentage ranked last in baseball. If that does not improve and J.P. Crawford plays well early in Triple-A, Galvis' job will be in jeopardy.
Utility infielders (2): Andres Blanco is a no-brainer, but the final bench job is tough to figure out. Brock Stassi, who is a non-roster invitee, is the early choice because he is a stellar defensive first baseman, hits left-handed, knows how to get on base and has some pop. He could be a bench player in the mold of Greg Dobbs and Ross Gload.
Outfielders (5): Odubel Herrera, Howie Kendrick and Michael Saunders are the Opening Day outfielders. Aaron Altherr is a safe bet to be the fourth outfielder, because he can play all three positions and, quite honestly, there is no place for him in Triple-A. Chris Coghlan gets the edge over Daniel Nava for the final spot, but that can change in Spring Training.
Rotation (5): Right-handers Clay Buchholz, Jerad Eickhoff, Jeremy Hellickson, Aaron Nola and Vince Velasquez. If everybody is healthy, there are no surprises here.
Bullpen (7): Left-handers Sean Burnett and Joely Rodriguez and right-handers Joaquin Benoit, Jeanmar Gomez, Hector Neris, Pat Neshek and Edubray Ramos. The five right-handers are safe bets, if healthy. The lefties? Not so much. Burnett has had two Tommy John surgeries, but if he shows enough promise in spring, he makes a lot of sense for a team without many left-handed options. Mackanin knows him and likes him. But left-hander Adam Morgan could earn the final spot in the bullpen over Rodriguez, because he would be another lefty -- and he could be the long man. Mackanin said in January that Morgan could move to the bullpen.