Phillies: 5 candidates for the September expanded roster

Jun 20, 2021; San Francisco, California, USA; Philadelphia Phillies catcher Rafael Marchan (12) catches a pitch during the eighth inning against the San Francisco Giants at Oracle Park. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 20, 2021; San Francisco, California, USA; Philadelphia Phillies catcher Rafael Marchan (12) catches a pitch during the eighth inning against the San Francisco Giants at Oracle Park. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports /
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Mickey Moniak, Phillies outfielder

Outfielder Mickey Moniak made his MLB debut with the Phillies in 2020 and has appeared in 12 games with the team this year. His three hits match his total from last season, though his batting average dropped from .214 to .115 due to how many more at-bats he’s had this year. However, he did hit his first career home run, a three-run shot against the San Francisco Giants on April 21.

While Moniak has been slow to come along in the majors, he’s been putting together a good season with Triple-A Lehigh Valley, leading the team in hits (66), triples (six), home runs (12 – tied with Ryan Cordell), and RBI (53), though he’s appeared in the second-most games, behind Darick Hall. He has a .257/.310/.490 slash line and .800 OPS in 69 games.

Moniak has proven himself to be an RBI machine at various levels, hitting 67 RBI in 119 games with Double-A Reading in 2019 and 55 RBI in 114 games with Advanced-A Clearwater in 2018. He has 34 home runs and 247 RBI in 471 minor league games overall.

Moniak has also been hitting better recently, with a .285 batting average, nine home runs, 35 RBI, and 13 extra-base hits between June 1 and July 24 at Triple-A. He then made a lone major league appearance before returning to Triple-A, where he’s cooled down a little, going 6-for-24 (.250 batting average), with four RBI, in seven games.

Three stints at the big-league level this season are an indicator that the Phillies want to give the former first-overall draft pick opportunities, so a spot on the extended roster would be a logical move.

Matt Vierling, Phillies outfielder

Outfielder Matt Vierling made a quick impression on Phillies fans when he made his major league debut on June 19 at the league-leading Giants. He hit a single in his first at-bat, pinch-hitting for Ranger Suárez in the sixth inning. Two batters later, Vierling stole second base, with Rhys Hoskins at the plate, before scoring on a double by Hoskins.

Vierling went 1-for-3 in his first career start the following day, going 3-for-7 overall in his first six games, split between two major league stints.

He’s moved quickly through the minor leagues, debuting in the Phillies farm system in 2018, playing in Advanced-A in 2019 and appearing in both Double-A and Triple-A this season, where he has a combined eight home runs, 35 RBI, and .279/.357/.446 slash line through 60 games.

What Vierling lacks in experience, he makes up for in adapting to a higher level of competition. That major league debut came after just three games at the Triple-A level, and he’s also shown improvement with more games.

Vierling started the Double-A season with three home runs, eight RBI, and a .326 batting average in his first 12 games, followed by the same number of home runs and RBI, but with a .364 average, in his next 12 games. He recorded seven RBI and a .194 batting average in his first 18 Triple-A games before recording two home runs, 12 RBI, and a .274 batting average in his next 18 games.

Expanded rosters provide a perfect opportunity for the Phillies to see if he can continue this trend with more games at the major league level.

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