Philadelphia Phillies Predictions 2017: Five Players Who Could Break Out

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Aug 21, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Vince Velasquez (28) throws a pitch during the first inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 21, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Vince Velasquez (28) throws a pitch during the first inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports /
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Mar 19, 2015; Tampa, FL, USA; Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Joely Rodriguez (64) throws a pitch during the fifth inning against the New York Yankees at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

Relief Pitcher Joely Rodriguez

Joely Rodriguez went from being demoted to High-A Clearwater to making it all the way to the major leagues by the end of the season. After struggling to start the season in Double-A Reading, Rodriguez went down to Clearwater and was lights-out from that point on. Following his demotion, Rodriguez had a 2.16 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 4.57 strikeout-to-walk ratio, and .228 batting average against him.

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With the bullpen decimated by a long season, Philadelphia promoted Rodriguez to the major leagues in September to help ease pressure on the other relievers. He made 12 appearances with the Phillies, allowing three earned runs in 9.2 innings. He didn’t allow a hit until his sixth outing and a run didn’t come until his eighth.

Many of the other relievers in spring training were already released or informed that they won’t make the team.

Rodriguez now seems like a lock for the major-league roster. Even heading into camp Rodriguez seemed like a lock since he was one of the few lefties already on the 40-man roster.

The only other lefty who may be in Philadelphia’s bullpen this season is Adam Morgan, and he may also serve as the team’s long reliever. That would leave Rodriguez as the go-to lefty specialist in the bullpen. It may not be a large role, but it is a role that every team needs to fill.

Rodriguez flashed success at the end of the 2016 season after putting together a terrific season in the minor leagues. If those numbers continue into 2017, Rodriguez could very well become one of the top relievers in the Phillies bullpen.

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