Mid-March Roster Projection
Because today is the Phillies’ only off day and because there are just 19 more days until Opening Day, I thought I’d give you my best guess at the Opening Day roster.
Here it is:
- Rotation: Jeremy Hellickson, Aaron Nola, Charlie Morton, Jerad Eickhoff and Vince Velasquez. Velasquez entered camp the favorite for the No. 5 job and I believe he remains the favorite. First, he has the best stuff. Second, he is the prized piece of the Ken Giles trade and I believe the Phillies’ front office would like to have him out there. But I would not say Velasquez has a big lead over Adam Morgan. (I believe Brett Oberholtzer will end up in the bullpen, despite pitching well.) Morgan has pitched very well this spring. If Velasquez has trouble throwing strikes and Morgan keeps doing what he has been doing I would not be surprised to see Morgan in the rotation.
- Bullpen: David Hernandez, Andrew Bailey, Edward Mujica, Brett Oberholtzer, Jeanmar Gomez, Dalier Hinojosa and Daniel Stumpf. Everything here assumes everybody is healthy, which Hernandez has not been early in camp. I feel pretty good about the first six relievers listed here — Oberholtzer is out of options, so he makes the team — but not as much about the Phillies’ second lefty in the pen. I give the edge to Stumpf because he is a Rule 5 pick and the Phillies have every incentive to keep him. Every other lefty in camp can be sent to the Minor Leagues. Bobby LaFromboise has pitched well, but he is on a Minor League contract. He is out of options, but that only would affect the Phillies if they wanted to send him back to Triple-A. He can start the season there. James Russell has pitched well, but he has a June 1 out clause. So the Phillies can start him in Triple-A, too. Having Stumpf on the Opening Day roster allows further evaluation of him. That should not be overlooked. But plenty can change in the final two weeks of Grapefruit League games. Remember last year? Rule 5 pick Andy Oliver looked untouchable the first two weeks of camp before the wheels fell off.
- Catchers: Carlos Ruiz and Cameron Rupp. No surprises here.
- Infielders: Ryan Howard, Cesar Hernandez, Maikel Franco, Freddy Galvis, Andres Blanco and Darin Ruf. No surprises here, either.
- Outfielders: Odubel Herrera, Peter Bourjos, Tyler Goeddel, David Lough and Cedric Hunter. I do not have Cody Asche listed because he has yet to play in a Grapefruit League game and he is running out of time to get ready for the season. Once he is healthy he should be back on the roster. Of course, that means a pair of non-roster invitees could be the team’s fourth and fifth outfielders. Klentak seems OK with that publicly, but they’ve got to add some depth there don’t they? Darnell Sweeney remains a candidate, but the Phillies keep talking about the importance of defense in the outfield, so Lough and Hunter have the edge.