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,
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.
Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast.