A historic season likely won’t be matched by the Phillies in 2018
Despite nearly losing 100 games the Phillies showed extremely promising signs in 2017, perhaps the largest being the influx of youth on the field.
Philadelphia called-up 16 players this season to make their major league debuts, the most in club history. Rhys Hoskins, Nick Williams, and Ben Lively have shown tremendous promise while Cam Perkins and Brock Stassi tapered off with limited success.
It’s unlikely as many rookies are called-up in 2018 given the success of the young players this season. With the exception of a few positions, jobs are locked in for 2018 and beyond.
Perhaps the first and most exciting call-up of the year will be second baseman Scott Kingery, who draws comparisons to Chase Utley. Many felt Kingery was ready this year, even before he moved up to Triple-A.
Moves will be made this offseason, including the likely departure of current starter Cesar Hernandez. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Kingery as the starter on opening day.
Kingery’s counterpart in Lehigh Valley looking for a new home is Dylan Cozens. Known for his tremendous raw power Cozens was often in lockstep with Hoskins throughout their minor league careers. Unlike Hoskins, Cozens has a tendency to be an all or nothing hitter; the ball is either going 400 feet into the seats or past his bat for a strikeout.
Don’t be shocked if Cozens is traded to an American League team, where he can better serve as a designated hitter, for a major league ready starter.
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Speaking of major league ready starter, the winner of the Paul Owens award, Thomas Eshelman, is virtually guaranteed to see playing time in Philadelphia next season. Acquired in the Ken Giles trade prior to the 2016 season Eshelman could be the biggest prize in the bundle of prospects, which included former number one overall pick Mark Appel.
Eshelman went 13-3 with a 2.40 ERA with Reading and Lehigh Valley while walking only 18 hitters in 150 innings. With so many questions surrounding the major league rotation, Eshelman is likely to be the first name called upon next season.
Beyond Kingery, Cozens, and Eshelman the list becomes murky. Outfielder Carlos Tocci and starter Franklyn Kilome come to mind as players with limited Triple-A experience but major league potential. Tocci might be the odd man out in a crowded outfield, but a high-quality bat could force him into left field if Aaron Altherr or Dylan Cozens falter.
Kilome, on the other hand, is the Phillies second-rated pitching prospect behind 19-year-old Sixto Sanchez. He could be the next great Phillies pitcher to go from the bottom of the system to the very top, similar to Cole Hamels.
At 22-years-old Kilome isn’t necessarily ready for a major league promotion. However, if he gets to a hot start and the major league rotation needs an arm, an emergency start isn’t out of the question.
Worst comes to worst, Kilome is a September call-up who makes a couple of starts to gain experience.