Here's what 5 Philly hitters are working on this spring

March 20th, 2023

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- If you’ve watched ’s performance at the World Baseball Classic and immediately picture him in the Phillies’ lineup, you are not alone. has, too.

“[FOX TV analyst John Smoltz] said last night our lineup is going to be electric,” Harper said Sunday. “It should be, right?”

It could be one of the best offenses in franchise history, if a few offseason adjustments pay dividends.

Phillies hitting coach Kevin Long recently discussed five hitters, and the work they have done before Opening Day (March 30, at Texas):

Much has been made about Bohm’s strength gain, but if he hits for more power, it will be because of improved pitch selection.

“He can handle pitches on the inside and outside corners that are nasty,” Long said. “But what if he was to narrow his strike zone to just the middle of the plate? That doesn’t mean dead center, but a little to the outside, a little to the inside. That’s more his focus. Not swinging at a corner or an edge pitch. Waiting it out. He’s seen dividends there. He’s walked this spring. His swings have looked really good. It’s approach and plate discipline. If he wants to hit more home runs, I can tell you right now you’re not going to do it on this pitch [outside] and this pitch [inside]. You’re going to do it on something in the middle of the plate. He’s as confident and well-rounded a hitter going into a season as I’ve had throughout the years.”

He had one of the highest chase rates (39.6 percent) in baseball, which contributed to the lowest OPS (.694) of his career. Castellanos has moved closer to the plate and up in the box. He’s worked on his approach, too.

“It got to a point where it was out of control,” Long said of Castellanos’ chase rate. “He’s honed it back in. He’s got eight walks this spring. The most he’s ever had is four. It’s not about taking away his aggressiveness. It’s about being aggressive and taking your ‘A’ swing. Your ‘A’ swing occurs on pitches over the plate. Getting closer to the plate takes away the far outer part. Most of his chases were down and away. We’re really just taking that part of it away. Moving up gets that [offspeed pitch] higher, but he’s still got to be disciplined enough to lay off it.”

The Phillies want Marsh to play more, but his splits must improve. He has a career .732 OPS against righties and a career .519 OPS against lefties.

“I’m not worried about the left-handed pitching,” Long said. “He’s done a really nice job of fixing his swing to the point where it’s explosive, it’s tight, it’s compact, it’s powerful. He’s in a better position, so it allows him a little more time to make decisions. Before he didn’t have that time. He’s not moving as much. His body is in the ideal position to hit. It’s giving him a different feel because he’s got this extra time. When he’s been off this spring, it’s just been his contact point. Out in front. We’re just making sure he backs up his contact point.”

He led the National League with 46 home runs. He also set a franchise record and led baseball with 200 strikeouts.

“He’s too good of a hitter, in my opinion and in his opinion, to strike out 200 times,” Long said. “He’ll take pitches that are borderline that he can probably hit. We said Bohm needs to go toward the middle [of the plate]. Schwarber might have to expand a little bit. But on the plate. He may have to make an attempt at those. He’s almost too passive at times. That’s why he hit so many home runs. Because he gets center-cut stuff and he doesn’t miss. It’s swinging a little bit more, if that makes sense. Expanding on the plate.”

Stott wants to do more damage against fastballs. He hit .215 with a .331 slugging percentage against them last year.

“He’s too good of a hitter to just do a two-strike approach,” Long said. “He just had too many flaws to cover last year, the high pitch, the stuff down and away, the outer half of the plate. Now he’s able to do that much better. So that’s what he worked on during the offseason. Simplifying the toe tap, getting it controlled and then fixing his path. He’s done those things. I keep telling him, whether you hit .400 or .140 in spring, it doesn’t matter. It’s really about your body of work and trusting your process. Both are good right now.”