5 Things to Watch at Philadelphia Phillies Spring Training
It seems like yesterday that the Philadelphia Phillies were making their run to the World Series against the Houston Astros.
Well the offseason has come to an end for the defending N.L champs, as pitchers and catchers report to Clearwater today.
Many players have been working out at the Phillies’ spring training complex in the last couple of weeks, but camp formally opens Thursday with full team workouts beginning on Tuesday the 21st.
I will be down to see the team up close from March 14-21, but we will have plenty of coverage between now and then and after. Frank Klose will also be reporting from Clearwater and we will be joined on the radio by guys like him, Bob Wankel from Crossing Broad and others who cover the team.
This Phillies spring training will be different with raised expectations after ending the postseason drought, and advancing all the way to the World Series, the fans are ready for baseball in Philadelphia.
Here are a few of the things I will be watching this spring.
1. Andrew Painter.
Will the talented right-hander, who is one of the top prospects in all of baseball, be able to crack the Phillies rotation?
Painter will battler Bailey Falter, Christopher Sanchez, Nick Nelson and Michael Plassmeyer for the spot in the rotation.
Phillies President Dave Dombrowski seemed to indicate that the 19-year-old will have a shot this spring after posting eye-popping numbers at three levels last season. Painter had a dazzling 1.56 ERA, 0.89 WHIP and 155/25 K/BB ratio across 103 2/3 innings last season.
If he makes the Phillies rotation, that's a great sign of two things. He is ready and the team is very serious about taking the best team up north to compete for the N.L. East crown.
2. Trea Turner
While we all know that Turner is a tremendous player, one thing we aren't sure of yet is where the team is going to hit him in the lineup.
He has hit leadoff, No. 2 and third in the order a lot during his career and a case can be made that any of those spots fit here, especially with Bryce Harper out until around the All-Star break.
So where he starts the season, might not be where he ends the season in the lineup, but if he is going good, the team might not want to move him, even when Harper returns.
3. Alec Bohm
One big story today has been the size of Bohm.
According to reports, Bohm has added about 10-pounds of muscle to his frame, which could allow him to add more home runs to the 13 he hit last season.
Bohm, now 26, is coming into a big season after hitting .280 with 13 homers and 72 RBI over 152 games. The Phillies are hoping for more from the former No. 3 overall pick in the draft.
If he can add more power, the Phillies offesnse could really be dangerous even with Bryce Harper out of the lineup. He did his most damage last season with Harper out and it will be interesting to see where the Phillies hit him in the lineup this season.
4. The Bullpen
The Phillies signed Seranthony Domínguez to a two-year contract with a club option for 2025. Domínguez will make $2.5 million in 2023 and $4.5 million in 2024 while the 2025 option is worth $8 million and carries a $500,000 buyout.
But the Phillies added more talent in the bullpen this offseason, adding Craig Kimbrel, Gregory Soto and Matt Straham.
The big question will be, how will Rob Thomson use the pen? Will have one closer? Closer by committee? That should all play out in Clearwater and evolve as the season goes on.
5. Who replaces Harper?
With Bryce Harper out until about the All-Star break, who will replace him in the lineup? Nick Castellanos will likely play the most right field and Thomson said they will rotate their DH early in the season. However, if Castellanos takes a day off in the outfield, the Phillies will look to some inexperience players to fill that role.
Keep an eye on names like Jake Cave,Simón Muzziotti and Dalton Guthrie in Clearwater.
It won't be easy to get back to the playoffs and get to the World Series. A lot has to go right, but it all starts in Clearwater.