Storyline #3: The Kids
I am using a complete cop-out here. I know it, and I am fine with it. I also know that leaving this off a list of things to watch in 2017 would be short-sighted on my part.
The Phillies are in what I consider to be the most important year of the rebuild. While the big club will have interesting pieces on it, the real focus will be on the many different parts throughout the system. In Reading, the Phillies are hoping to see Scott Kingery continue to grow, while further down the line, they hope 18-year-old power phenom, Jhailyn Ortiz improves. The club needs Cole Stobbe and Mickey Moniak to prove why they were highly touted in last year’s draft. Arms like Franklyn Kilome and Sixto Sanchez to show why scouts have drooled over both in their short careers.
Most of the eyes, however, will be a 70 mile trip on I-76. The Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs will boast twelve of the organization’s Top 30 prospects. And their development will arguably be the top storyline of 2017.
The Phillies need some of these pieces to progress in the right direction. Ideally, J.P. Crawford, Jorge Alfaro, and two of Roman Quinn, Dylan Cozens, and Nick Williams make strides in 2017. Each of those players has a spot awaiting them at Citizen’s Bank Park if they can take the steps forward at Coca-Cola Park.
It would also help the organization to have Zach Eflin and Jake Thompson stay healthy and effective for the entire season, while the kids on the Major League roster continue to improve.
I fully expect Eflin to explode onto the scene this season once healthy and a spot opens up. If the Phils can get to 2018 with a core rotation of kids from their own system, it would be quite an accomplishment.
Do not fret. I will have the Phils on my television every night, but my minor league app will be on right alongside me.