President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said a couple of times recently that the Phillies will not anoint Johan Rojas as their everyday center fielder in 2024.
Rojas will have to earn his job next spring.
He batted .093 (4-for-43) with one double, one triple, one walk, 15 strikeouts and a .277 OPS in the playoffs. It was the seventh-lowest OPS of any player in postseason history (minimum 35 plate appearances). Rojas stayed in manager Rob Thomson’s lineup because he is an elite defender. He collected 9 Outs Above Average, ranking seventh-best among center fielders, according to Statcast.
Despite the struggles of Rojas and rookie right-hander Orion Kerkering in the postseason, each made important contributions down the stretch. The Phillies hope for more from other prospects in 2024.
Here are updates on their top five prospects per MLB Pipeline:
1. Andrew Painter, RHP: He will not pitch for the Phillies until 2025, following Tommy John surgery in July. Painter’s rehab is going well (i.e. he has not experienced any setbacks).
2. Mick Abel, RHP: He went 5-6 with a 4.13 ERA in 23 starts with Double-A Reading and Triple-A Lehigh Valley, striking out 132 and walking 65 in 113 1/3 innings. Abel’s command was an issue throughout the season, but he went 2-1 with a 1.63 ERA in his final five starts. He struck out 29 and walked 14 in 27 2/3 innings
Phillies assistant general manager of player development Preston Mattingly said he was most encouraged by Abel’s durability. “He took the ball from wire to wire,” he said. “He held his stuff throughout. And, honestly, we saw an uptick in his stuff.”
Abel is home in Oregon, trying to add strength before Spring Training.
“Some of the strength should help him with the repeatability of his delivery,” Mattingly said. And that, the Phillies hope, should help Abel’s command improve.
3. Justin Crawford, OF: He slashed .332/.392/.467 between Single-A Clearwater and High-A Jersey Shore. He can run. He can play defense. He knows how to put the bat on the ball. The Phillies believe the power will come, too. (He hit three homers in 390 plate appearances.)
“He’s already showing exit velocities that show he has it in there,” Mattingly said. “It’s just doing it consistently. A few tweaks here and there and we’ll get him to where he needs to be.”
4. Aidan Miller, INF: He slashed .303/.425/.379 in 80 plate appearances between the Rookie-level Florida Complex League Phillies and Single-A Clearwater.
“The makeup is off the charts,” Mattingly said. “The work ethic, the drive to be great. He’s got that special drive to him. He’s not just excited about being a first-round pick. He’s a guy that wants to be a big league All-Star, a Hall of Famer. He’s driven in that way. The sheer physicality of him is impressive. I think he’s going to have real power potential.”
5. Griff McGarry, RHP: McGarry was 1-1 with a 3.13 ERA in 13 starts with Reading. He got promoted to Triple-A and then everything fell apart. McGarry had a 41.54 ERA in three starts with Lehigh Valley, allowing eight hits, 20 runs and 14 walks while striking out five in 4 1/3 innings. The Phillies shut him down.
“It just comes back to the command,” Mattingly said. “We’re working on some things with Griff’s body and how he moves. Some of the arm path stuff, we’ve addressed. We’re just trying to get him in a better spot to be more consistent and be consistently in the strike zone.”