Phillies need to find a bridge to Bohm
The Phillies can’t rely on their top prospect being ready to breakout next year.
Perhaps the Phillies biggest flaw this season was relying too much on the potential of young players and hoping they’d breakout. It’s a big reason why a starting rotation with Vince Velasquez Nick Pivetta, and Zach Eflin failed to sustain itself.
It’s a lesson (hopefully) learned by Phillies general manager Matt Klentak as he enters the 2019-2020 offseason. After reconstructing the team last winter with Bryce Harper, Jean Segura, J.T. Realmuto, and Andrew McCutchen Klentak will be tasked with finding pitchers and possibly an outfielder.
Another area Klentak should address is third base, an area the team clearly felt uncomfortable with after sending former top prospect Maikel Franco down to Lehigh Valley in the midst of a playoff run.
Franco has gotten more opportunities than any player on the current roster to prove he belongs on a winning big league team. For six years he’s teased Phillies fans with dynamic streaks of power and Gold Glove defense, but those streaks have dried up and have been far from often.
Franco’s tenure faces an even more daunting fate with the steady progression of top prospect Alec Bohm, Philadelphia’s first round pick in 2018. In 158 minor league games Bohm is hitting .293 with 20 home runs and 34 doubles. He’s rated as the 35th best prospect in baseball by both MLB Pipeline and Baseball America (subscription required).
Bohm is hitting .264 with 13 home runs for Double-A Reading just 14 months after the Phillies drafted him third overall. His ascent through the organization is impressive, but is he ready to make a big league impact?
Some have suggested Bohm could help the Phillies in their playoff run this year or be their starting third baseman on Opening Day in 2020, but as the organization has hopefully learned, you can’t rely on a young player to carry the team.
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If the organization has truly moved on from Franco, they’ll need to find the bridge to Bohm. That player is likely an established veteran who would be a bench player for a playoff team or a starter for a rebuilding club. That player can hold it together at third base for the first month or two of the 2020 season while Bohm gets Triple-A experience.
A couple of free agents available this offseason fit that bill, Todd Frazier and Martin Prado. Both are past their prime, but could hold down the fort for a couple of weeks before transitioning to the bench. They’d be better fits on the bench than Franco, who’d be starting spring training with Bohm breathing down his neck.
Frazier grew up a little more than an hour away from Philadelphia, so going there would be a homecoming for the former Home Run Derby king. While his batting average isn’t great, he can still pick up home runs from the right side of the plate.
Prado doesn’t hit as well as he once did, but he provides versatility defensively and veteran leadership this team has lacked at times.
Both would be improvements over Brad Miller and Sean Rodriguez off the bench and in the starting lineup for a while.
A bridge to Bohm can help the Phillies keep developing their top prospect with no need to rush him, shed the burden of carrying a much-maligned Franco, and also stay in the race early in the season. While the perfect bridge isn’t there, it’s a necessary evil for this team to succeed both in the long and short-term.