1/18/22 : Major League Debuts - part two
Second in a series on Phillies minor leaguers who might make major league debuts in 2022. If you missed the opening article here is a link. - https://www.philliesbaseballfan.com/post/1-16-22-major-league-debuts
CF Simon Muzziotti - 23 years old - missed almost the entirety of the 2021 stateside season due to work visa issues. Did get over in time to participate at season’s end and in the Arizona Fall League. Simon is an excellent fielder, very good at closing gaps and ball tracking with plus speed and certainly has enough arm to play center field in the show. Offensively he’s a bit of a throw back lead off type hitter, he’s a line drive, gap to gap hitter that is aggressive to put balls in play. When we’ve seen him play he’s not one to work counts and readily accept walks which statistically is reflected in lower on base percentages throughout his career to date. Speed, defense and the ability to do the little things to win games are his strengths. For those who can remember Cesar Geronimo from the Big Red Machine’s heyday in the 1970’s that’s my comp, back in those days working walks wasn’t necessarily a thing, putting the ball in play was more prevalent. Needs to play due to missed time, likely gets that opportunity in either Reading or Lehigh Valley - if defense is a need at the big club level he’s already capable of filling that role.
UTL Dalton Guthrie - 26 years old - solid, heady ball player who can play every infield position and added the outfield to his repertoire last season. He’s a very good defender, was the starting shortstop in his college days for a national championship team at Florida. Went on a tear offensively in June and July last season hitting .354/.393/.506 at Lehigh Valley in July for the Iron Pigs with 12 doubles before incurring an injury which shut him down for almost an entire month. He’s a St. Louis Cardinal type player - well schooled and baseball smart. His defensive versatility makes him comparable to Luke Williams minus the speed game that Luke possesses. Dalton can fill a utility role at the big league level if afforded the opportunity and has shown an offensive skill set that’s capable of delivering when needed. He’s likely gonna begin play with the Iron Pigs once spring camp breaks and is a viable call up option for the big club if versatility is needed.
OF Matt Kroon - 25 years old - he can swing the bat, excelled in the lead off spot for Reading in July, August and September of 2021 after returning from a two month stint on the injured list. Matt became the everyday center fielder for the Fightin’s upon his return. He had played primarily first and third base previously in his pro career and in college but showed the ability to man an outfield spot during minor league spring training and broke camp with the conversion in mind. If he continues to hit the way he closed the 2021 season then he plays himself into a higher consideration if a need occurs. With only 181 plate appearances at Reading it’s likely he returns there to start the 2022 season - where it goes from there depends on performance.
INF Madison Stokes - 25 years old - another versatile defender who has manned all four infield positions, even adding time in right and left field during the 2021 season at Reading. He’s a solid defender wherever he plays. In spurts the offensive side of the equation has come thru as well, it’s a matter of consistency to advance to the highest rung. Will likely be part of the Iron Pigs roster to start 2022 and afforded the chance to play at least semi regularly. He’s a gamer who knows he has to earn his way to the top, wouldn’t count against him. Plays hard and smart, solid players win titles - has a chance to break out and show he’s worthy of the highest level.
SS/2B Luis Garcia - 21 years old - has the best hands, range, arm, first step and instincts amongst middle infielders in the system. He makes plays that others can’t. Has grown into his body the last couple of years and the added strength has shown in offensive production - particularly in the ability to drive the ball over the fence. He’s a switch hitter who has always possessed bat speed but as a teenager was limited in production until he got stronger. Luis enjoys playing baseball, it’s evident he has fun doing so. The combined skills he possesses could make him a viable big league regular at either shortstop or second base. He was added to the 40 man roster this off season putting him in the mix for call-up considerations. It’s likely he begins the year at High A with an eye towards Reading but with a good spring camp might just go to the AA level right away. He’s used to the challenge of playing at higher levels at a younger age, a great attitude and skills that are big league development caliber serve him well.
CF Johan Rojas - 21 years old - we’ve said many times that Johan has all to tools and skills to be a very good major leaguer. His ball tracking ability is second to none, every ball in the air he thinks is his 🤓. I remember a play in Fall Instructs where he ran the second baseman off a high fly about one step behind the dirt, he gets after it each and every play, all out hustle. Plays with unbridled enthusiasm, one of the few players I’ve seen who smiles while chasing a ball and takes such great delight in catching them. Johan also has a very strong and accurate arm. Offensively speed is a huge asset both in base running ability and batting stroke thru the zone. He’s aggressive and sometimes is prone to going after pitches he should pass on, but to me I like such aggression when a player possesses a strong skill set. He consistently hits the ball hard albeit the swing plane has often resulted in hard ground balls, doesn’t matter if he gets on though as he is very adept at turning singles into doubles by swiping second base. When he launches the ball it flys, has home run power to all fields and balls in the gaps are always candidates for triples with his wheels. We’ve seen him on multiple occasions turn a lackadaisical approach by opposing defenders into extra bases, outfielders better push to balls quickly else he won’t hesitate to take the extra bag. Likely begins the year at High A Jersey Shore, a level he dominated for a couple weeks to end the 2021 season, at some point he will move up to Reading and then he’s on the verge. Like Muzziotti he’s already capable of playing strong defensive center field in the show. Could push his way there if the offensive game blossoms this year like I think it can.
In part there we will highlight relief pitchers beginning with Blake Brown, Andrew Schultz, Mark Appel, Erubiel Armenta, Billy Sullivan and Braden Zarbnisky.
Happy Day, Happy Baseball ⚾️