Which prospect should the Phillies call up first this year?

Mar 12, 2017; Clearwater, FL, USA; Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Roman Quinn (24) hits a solo home run in the third inning of the spring training game against the Boston Red Sox at Spectrum Field. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 12, 2017; Clearwater, FL, USA; Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Roman Quinn (24) hits a solo home run in the third inning of the spring training game against the Boston Red Sox at Spectrum Field. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports /

The Phillies have several prospects who could be deserving a call-up, but which one should be the first one to reach the major leagues?

The Phillies are struggling mightily in May with a 5-17 record this month. The offense is sputtering, the pitchers are giving up an obscene amount of runs, and the team just doesn’t seem to have their act together at this point.

General manager Matt Klentak has preached patience with bringing up prospects numerous times, most recently at a press conference before the Rockies series began Monday: [quote via Matt Rourke of the Press of Atlantic City]

"“If they’re going to come up to the major leagues, we want them to have an opportunity to continue their development with at-bats or innings,” he said. “But calling them up to sit on the bench doesn’t make a lot of sense.”"

It’s understandable that Klentak doesn’t want his best prospects to sit on the bench at the majors. However, with the struggles of several players on the team, they may not have to.

More from Phillies Prospects

The biggest hole in the lineup is coming from the outfield outside of Aaron Altherr. Michael Saunders was benched by manager Pete Mackanin for a game as he has done little to nothing on offense this year. He has a .228/.277/.403 line with five home runs and 17 RBI in 44 games.

Meanwhile, Odubel Herrera is struggling as much, if not more.

His line stands at .226/.275/.339 with a 25.9% strikeout rate. Herrera has just one walk in 95 plate appearances this month and has struck out in seven straight at-bats as of now. His plate discipline and overall offense are both terrible for the player who received a long-term extension during the offseason.

With Howie Kendrick and Daniel Nava both on the disabled list, there is room for an outfield prospect to jump up to the major-league roster. Roman Quinn, who played 15 games last season in the majors, is the easy answer to receive the first call-up. Since May 12, Quinn has a .860 OPS with an 11.9% walk rate. He has eight stolen bases this month, which is tied for seventh in the International League.

Corey Seidman of CSN Philly made a strong argument for bringing Quinn up:

"Quinn could infuse some energy and life to the top of a sputtering lineup. Bat him second, play him in the corner outfield and see what happens. At the very least, he’d be a defensive upgrade over Saunders. At the most, Quinn’s hunger to stick in the majors could result in a hot streak that sparks the top of the order the way Herrera does when he’s hot."

Another outfield prospect for a potential call-up could be Dylan Cozens. He started off the year poorly but is coming back strong in May. He has eight home runs this month with a .979 OPS. Cozens could be a replacement for Saunders in right field, but his strikeout rate is still incredibly high and he has just started in Triple-A.

More from That Balls Outta Here

Nick Williams is a dark horse option as he is in his second Triple-A season, but his strikeout rate is high as well and his line doesn’t jump off the page either.

Turning towards other positions, Rhys Hoskins is absolutely mashing baseballs with an IL-leading 13 home runs and a .333 batting average. His 14.2% walk rate is the highest of his career and his 15.3% strikeout rate is the lowest. However, he is behind Tommy Joseph, one of the team’s better hitters this month and also not on the 40-man roster.

Jorge Alfaro started off the season strong but is falling fast in May with a .225/.253/.282 line in 75 plate appearances this month. In addition, his work behind the plate needs time as well and this is his last option year before he’d have to clear waivers to go back to the minor leagues.

Finally, J.P. Crawford cobbled together a six-game hitting streak last week but is hitless in his last four games. He still has a 0.76 walk-to-strikeout ratio, but his batting average of .175 is still well below average. He definitely needs more Triple-A time.

The Phillies have tinkered with adding some young pitchers to the bullpen like Ben Lively and Jake Thompson, but neither did much there. Nick Pivetta made four starts and flashed some potential, but he is still far from major-league ready. They will likely shuttle between the majors and Triple-A as pitching injuries come and go.

Mark Appel has a 7.59 ERA in nine starts this year and is teetering on the edge between the rotation and the bullpen, let alone being promoted.

Next: Phillies: Five things to know vs Cincinnati

The wildcard in Lehigh Valley’s rotation is Thomas Eshelman. The righty has a 0.78 ERA in three starts so far since being promoted May 8. He has just three walks in 23 innings, but his strikeout count is still fairly low at 12. He is still in his third minor-league season and turns 23 in June, so his professional experience is still limited. He could come up soon in a pinch, but it seems unlikely.