Phillies spring training: My takeaways from Clearwater
I took a trip down to Phillies spring training, and here’s what I saw
Phillies pitcher Aaron Nola took the mound at Spectrum Field during a Spring Training game on Wednesday against the Pirates. Unfortunately for fans at home, the game wasn’t televised but I got the chance to check out games in Clearwater on Wednesday and Thursday afternoon.
Aaron Nola had a solid outing against Pittsburgh tossing four innings allowing four hits, two earned runs and two strikeouts. The stat line doesn’t tell the whole story, his stuff did look good and his velocity was where you’d expect it to be.
The offense behind Nola helped a whole lot. That included a 3 for 3 effort from JT Realmuto and two hard-hit home runs from Bryce Harper. I talked to a few fans throughout the day about Harper’s huge home run to right field and I heard a lot of the same stuff.
"“I have never seen a ball hit that far at Spectrum Field”"
Bryce was impressive on Wednesday, the way he sticks with his toe tapping stance from last season it feels like he is in midseason form. For a player that is known for tinkering with his stance all the time, it seems as if he is very comfortable with where he is at right now.
It is only spring training, but up until the start of Saturday’s game Bryce is hitting .400/.500/.1.400 with three home runs and 10 RBIs in five games.
The same success rolled into the next day as Zack Wheeler took the mound for his second spring training start against the Blue Jays.
Bryce hit an opposite-field home run, keeping the hot streak alive. If this is the Harper we are going to get entering his age 27 season, Philadelphia is in for a fun 2020.
Wheeler had a good outing as he threw 2.1 innings giving three hits, two earned runs and two strikeouts. His movement was looking good but Wheeler didn’t have great defense behind him for this one. That included a botched backhand attempt by star prospect Alec Bohm as he still works on getting better defensively on the hot corner.
Bohm continued to hit after the fielding blunder as he hit his eighth single of the spring. It’s a small sample size for Bohm but he is now hitting .444 with a .921 OPS.
Despite allowing two runs, Wheeler gave up very few hard hit balls and looked very solid on the rubber. His command was there and his stuff looked like we should be worried about nothing.
He was relived by a kid that has been on everybody’s mind recently in 23 year old Ramon Rosso. Rosso tossed 0.2 innings, striking out Cavan Biggio and handling a three pitch at bat to Vlad Guerrero Jr. that ended in a dribbler to Didi Gregorious. Rosso has a chance to be an impact piece in the bullpen this upcoming season.
Hoskins hit his first home run during the spring in this game, a towering home run to left field while the swing sure did look good. He finished up this contest going 2 for 2 with a wild infield pop fly that wasn’t touched by any Blue Jay turned into a double as he made his way to second safely.
Not only Bryce and Rhys, but Roman Quinn and Austin Listi both went yard on Thursday. Listi continues to make his case as a top prospect in the organization. The 26 year old is now hitting .368 with a .926 OPS, and it is going to the hard for the Phillies to forget what he’s done this spring.
We got to see two familiar faces in Seranthony Dominguez and Adam Morgan throwing an inning each. Morgan looked great in his frame as he struck out two batters looking and allowed no hits. If he can stay healthy and consistent he is going to be a huge piece for the Phils this year. Morgan has a devastating slider when healthy.
As for Seranthony, it was great to see him on the mound again. As expected, his velocity wasn’t where it was when fully healthy. According to the radar guns at Spectrum Field his fastball was hitting around 93-96 and his slider around 85 MPH. Having a healthy Dominguez in this bullpen makes Philadelphia all that more dangerous; it’s not every day you see a guy throwing high nineties with movement.
My main takeaways from my two games in Clearwater are that this team has a lot of potential to do damage in 2020. They can hit consistently and the bullpen has a lot of depth going to the season. If the Phillies can stay healthy, they have a chance to make a run.