These 5 prospects could debut for Phillies in 2024

March 23rd, 2024

This story was excerpted from Todd Zolecki’s Phillies Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

The Phillies have made 22 roster transactions since Tuesday to reduce the number of players in camp to 35.

Phillies manager Rob Thomson said Friday that the club has a pretty good idea about who is going to make the Opening Day roster, but they might wait until Monday to make a final decision (or an announcement) because they want to make sure everybody stays healthy. For what it is worth, Thomson said Thursday that Johan Rojas is “getting pretty consistent with [his swing]. He’s making some hard contact. He’s another guy that’s starting to make pretty good decisions at the plate.”

Rojas sounds like somebody who could be the Phillies’ center fielder on Thursday against the Braves. But the 26 players who make the Opening Day roster are not going to be the only ones who play for the Phillies this year. They used 44 players last year, and they used 56 in 2022.

Here are a few Phillies prospects who could make their MLB debuts this year:

, RHP (No. 2 Phillies prospect, No. 49 overall)
Abel, 22, impressed Phillies officials in camp. He struck out four in 2 2/3 perfect innings in two Grapefruit League appearances, positioning himself for a midseason promotion if he continues to progress in Triple-A Lehigh Valley.

“It’s definitely a goal; it’s definitely within sight,” Abel said last weekend. “The biggest difference this year is that I know where my feet are at. In years past, I thought about promotions too much. I put too many of those types of expectations on myself. By certain dates, I need to make certain levels or whatever. But this year I’ve got a very clear understanding of what I need to do and who I need to be to get to that next level.”

Kroon, 27, can hit. He can play all three outfield positions. He can play third base.

After he missed most of 2022 because of an ACL injury, he batted a combined .326 with 31 doubles, five triples, 11 home runs, 58 RBIs and a .925 OPS across stints at High-A Jersey Shore, Double-A Reading and Triple-A Lehigh Valley.

“It’s very similar to [Matt] Vierling,” Phillies assistant general manager of player development Preston Mattingly said. “He can play three spots, plus some third base. He’s athletic. He can run. He’s probably one of the better competitors we have in the box, too.”

, RHP (No. 11)
The Phillies have moved McGarry, 24, to the bullpen to try to simplify things, whittling his pitch arsenal to his fastball and cutter/slider and limiting him to one inning.

Maybe it will help.

McGarry has the stuff to get hitters out in the big leagues. Nobody questions that. The Phillies just need to see him throw strikes. It will be his priority in Triple-A.

The Phillies got Mercado, 24, in a trade with the Rays in November for right-hander Adam Leverett and cash considerations. He is the only player listed here on the 40-man roster, which simplifies his path to the big leagues.

Mercado throws hard. In camp, he threw strikes. He struck out 10 and walked one in 5 2/3 innings. He will be stretched out as a bulk-innings reliever in Triple-A.

Asked recently about pleasant surprises in camp, Phillies president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski mentioned the organization’s starting pitching depth. Then he mentioned Phillips.

“We really like Phillips a lot,” Dombrowski said. “We think he’s very, very close to pitching in the big leagues.”

The Phillies claimed Phillips off waivers from the Rangers in 2021. He missed ‘22 following Tommy John surgery. In his first season following the surgery, he went 4-7 with a 4.92 ERA in 122 2/3 innings (26 appearances) with Double-A Reading and Triple-A Lehigh Valley. The Phillies believe he will throw more strikes another year removed from surgery.