Spring Training has arrived for the Phillies and that means competition for major league jobs for the next six weeks leading up to opening day
Most, if not all, of the starting jobs, are set for the Phillies. This reality means the limited spots on the bench will be the feistiest competition of the spring.
Andres Blanco appears to be the only lock to make the Phillies as a bench player thanks to his leadership and ability to play multiple positions. Entering his fourth season with Philadelphia Blanco has hit .274 and provided quality defense along with a bat worthy of a critical pinch-hit opportunity.
While certainly not as close to a lock as Blanco, Aaron Altherr has a case for being the fourth outfielder thanks to his experience at all three outfield positions. Despite having less than 400 major league plate appearances, the consensus opinion on Altherr is that he is not a starter in the major leagues. It’s possible he’s the power off the bench from the right side, but Blanco has more home runs in the past two years than Altherr.
It would not be shocking to see Altherr be in Lehigh Valley, but all indications are that he makes the major league club.
This is where the group becomes interesting for the Phillies and jobs are to be won. Tyler Goeddel could start the season as low as Reading after a disastrous season in the majors as the Phillies Rule 5 pick. The organization thinks Goeddel can be something, but they decided to keep him rather than offer him back thru the Rule 5 rules.
The backup catcher role could be the biggest competition in spring training this year. Early reports were that prospect Andrew Knapp would get first dibs behind Cameron Rupp, but the presence of Ryan Hanigan and Bryan Holaday could force the Phillies hand and make Knapp start the year with the Iron Pigs with the opportunity to play more first base.
At this point, you can argue the Phillies have two more bench spots once you establish Blanco, Altherr, and a catcher being there.
Non-roster invitees Daniel Nava and Chris Coghlan are the most intriguing options available to Pete Mackanin. Coghlan has the upper hand thanks to his versatility, left-handed bat, and more recent experiences in Chicago. Nava is likely to be granted his release come late-March.
One final spot remains, although it wouldn’t hurt the bullpen to have an extra arm. Brock Stassi, Cam Perkins, and Andrew Pullin are all candidates but are more distant choices.