With bevy of prospects, Klentak sees possibility
Catchers Knapp, Alfaro among players who could get invites to big league camp
PHILADELPHIA -- Matt Klentak finished his first General Managers Meetings this week in Boca Raton, Fla., setting up his first Winter Meetings next month in Nashville, Tenn.
Klentak discussed numerous Phillies issues with reporters, including the possibility of trading closer Ken Giles and the importance of the international market. But he talked about much more than that:
Alfaro and Knapp
Two of the top prospects in the Phillies' system are catchers Jorge Alfaro and Andrew Knapp. The Phils acquired Alfaro from the Rangers in the Cole Hamels trade this past summer. MLBPipeline.com ranks him the 59th-best prospect in baseball. Philadelphia named Knapp its Minor League Player of the Year.
The Phillies hope one of them develops into a front-line catcher. Of course, in a perfect world, both develop into top catchers and the Phils have a nice problem on their hands. But nobody is losing sleep about that possibility just yet.
"We like having a lot of good players," Klentak said. "If they're at the same position, that's OK.
"I want to try to think as open-mindedly and creatively as I can. We don't necessarily have to have the starting player-backup player. Maybe there's a more creative solution to that long term. Look, I hope both these guys are so good this becomes an issue. But for now, we're pleased with their development and their talent."
A prospect-laden Spring Training
This could be one of the Phillies' most interesting Spring Trainings in years, because they may have a host of top prospects in the clubhouse. That group includes J.P. Crawford, Jake Thompson, Nick Williams, Knapp and Alfaro.
"I think as a general rule, if there is a player that has a reasonable chance to impact your Major League club in the upcoming Major League season, having that player around the big league club, around the big league staff in Spring Training, tends to be a good rule of thumb," Klentak said. "That doesn't mean you'll do it every time. Sometimes you'll have popup guys that you didn't expect. Or sometimes you might have a good reason to not invite a guy to camp. But I think as a general rule, if you're that close, and there's a reasonable expectation of being in the big leagues, that's probably someone you should at least consider bringing to camp."
Klentak, like many, is eager to get his first close-up look at those players.
"I've studied up on them," Klentak said. "I've listened to people talk about them. I've read scouting reports. I've watched video on these players. But there's nothing like actually getting down behind the cage and watching them take swings or watching them pick up ground balls."
The Phillies signed Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez to a three-year, $12 million contract in August 2013, making next season the final year of his contract. It would be surprising if he significantly contributed, considering his checkered health history.
That said, if Gonzalez is healthy, he will get an opportunity to compete for a job.
"If he's performing and he gives us the best chance to win, just like with any other player, we will give that player the chance to go out and compete," Klentak said. "If he doesn't, just as if anybody else doesn't, we're going to find the best guys to take the field and give us a chance to win."
But one thing is certain: Gonzalez won't get a longer leash because he is set to be paid $4 million next year.
"I mean, we're paying him regardless," Klentak said. "We're in the business of winning baseball games. And this is no knock on the player. If he's the best guy for the job, we'll give him the chance."
• Klentak said he expects left-hander Mario Hollands to contribute in the bullpen next season. Hollands had Tommy John surgery April 8.
• Left-hander Matt Harrison is on the 40-man roster, but it is unclear if he will compete for a job. Harrison had spinal fusion surgery in 2014, and his recovery has been slow.