The Philadelphia Phillies' 2023 season might not have ended the way the team or fans wanted it to, but there were still plenty of memorable moments throughout the year.
For the first time since their 102-win season in 2011, the Phillies got to 90 wins, finishing the year 90-72 and in first place in the National League Wild Card standings. A year after the team's improbable World Series run, Philadelphia was looking to make it back to the Fall Classic in back-to-back seasons like it did in 2008 and 2009. After dispatching the Miami Marlins and Atlanta Braves in quick succession, the team let a 2-0 National League Championship Series lead slip away, losing to the Arizona Diamondbacks in seven games.
Welcome to the big leagues, Johan Rojas
Center fielder Johan Rojas wasn't expected to see the major leagues in 2023. When Cristian Pache was put on the injured list with an elbow issue stemming from a previous surgery in July, though, the Phillies turned to their young prospect to fill a hole in the outfield.
In his debut in the big leagues, he wasted no time flashing his defensive ability. In the first game of July 15's doubleheader against the San Diego Padres, Rojas was in center with no outs, Ha-Seong Kim on first after a single and Fernando Tatis Jr. at the plate. What followed was a beautiful, unconventional double play:
The Phillies went on to take both games of the doubleheader.
After the games, Matt Gelb of The Athletic had comments from Kyle Schwarber about the effect young players can have on the energy for others: "A kid who, it seems like, he's just happy to be at the baseball field every day. And those things can be refreshing, especially you get guys that come up and they're getting their first taste of the big leagues. It can bring you back to your first time when you got called up."
What could be better than playing a role in a doubleheader sweep? How about getting your first career walk-off hit to clinch a spot in the playoffs for your team.
On September 26, Rojas stepped to the plate in the bottom of the 10th inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates with the score tied 2-2 and "ghost runner" Pache on second. He sent the fourth pitch he saw right back through the middle, plating the winning run and sending this team back to the postseason:
Not a bad introduction for the rookie.