This could be Phils' Spring Breakout lineup

December 20th, 2023

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.

There is no better place to see the Phillies’ future stars than every spring at Carpenter Complex in Clearwater, Fla.

They’re all there at the same time, just a short walk from BayCare Ballpark.

Major League Baseball is giving Phillies fans another opportunity to see their team’s top prospects play during a four-day event in March called “Spring Breakout.” Every organization will field a team of its top 20-25 prospects. Each team will play an exhibition against another team’s top prospects. The Phillies’ top prospects will play Detroit’s top prospects in a seven-inning game at Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium in Lakeland, Fla., on March 16.

“It’s great, it’s a really good idea,” Phillies assistant general manager of player development Preston Mattingly said this week. “As the game has grown more and more, people are really interested in prospects and young players in the organization. And I know we’re very passionate about exposing our players, because we believe we have a lot of players that people want to watch.”

Here’s a stab at what a Phillies lineup could look like in Lakeland:

1. Justin Crawford, CF (No. 3 Phillies prospect). Crawford, 19, is the No. 77 prospect in baseball, according to MLB Pipeline. He is so highly regarded that he is automatically mentioned any time anybody connects the Phillies with any blockbuster trade, whether it is rooted in reality or it is pure fan fiction (i.e., the Phillies could land “Superstar X” if they just included Crawford, plus …). It’s a compliment to Crawford’s game and potential.

2. Aidan Miller, 3B (No. 4). Miller, 19, is the No. 90 prospect in baseball. The Phillies loved his power potential and make up when they drafted him. They feel even better about him now.

3. Carlos De La Cruz, 1B (No. 6). De La Cruz, 24, is a great story. He is a 6-foot-8 outfielder from the Bronx who signed with the Phillies as an undrafted free agent in 2017. He was a project who developed into a prospect. He hit 24 homers last season with Double-A Reading and saw some time at first base.

4. Gabriel Rincones Jr., RF (No. 9). Rincones, 22, took an equally impressive ride to becoming a third-round pick in 2022. He had a .778 OPS with Single-A Clearwater and High-A Jersey Shore last season. He had an .889 OPS in the Arizona Fall League.

5. Eduardo Tait, C (No. 23). If you are surprised to see a 17-year-old Panamanian catcher hitting fifth, don’t be. Mattingly said the Phillies won’t be afraid to expose their youngest prospects in Spring Breakout, if they’re able. Tait fits the bill. President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski has mentioned him multiple times whenever he talks about prospects that other teams covet.

6. Devin Saltiban, DH (No. 18). Keep an eye on Saltiban, 18, whose hit tool impressed the Phillies so much that they selected him in the third round of the 2023 Draft. Saltiban is Flyin’ Hawaiian approved, by the way.

7. Emaarion Boyd, LF (No. 12). Boyd, 20, is a speedster. He stole 56 bases last season with Clearwater.

8. Bryan Rincon, 2B (No. 28). Like Tait, Rincon, 19, is another player who other organizations love. The Phillies think they got a steal when they selected him in the 14th round of the 2022 Draft.

9. Starlyn Caba, SS (No. 13). Caba, 18, signed for $3 million in January 2023. He has drawn early comps to Francisco Lindor.

Who starts for the Phillies? It’s got to be right-hander Mick Abel, who is the Phillies’ No. 2 prospect and the No. 45 prospect in baseball.

“Detroit has a great system,” Mattingly said. “They’re known as one of the top systems in baseball, but we think our players stack right up. It should be fun.”