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  • Writer's pictureSteve Potter

10/13/2020 : 2020 Phillies Review/2021 look ahead - Middle Infielders & today in Fall Instructs

Here’s an early look at where things stand now for the middle infield positions inclusive of where some of the minor leaguers might project for the 2021 season. Just my thoughts ...

Didi Gregorius is a pending free agent ... the 30 year old brought defensive stability to the shortstop position, a presence in the middle of the batting order and a respected demeanor to the clubhouse. To re-sign him would appear to require a three year commitment in the range of $14 to $ 15 million per season. It remains to be seen whether the club is willing to make such a commitment.

Jean Segura has two more seasons remaining on his contract with a full no-trade provision. According to Spotrac he is due to be paid $14.25 million each of those years. Segura is a gamer who’s versatility was displayed in 2020 by playing very good defense at both second and third base ... if Gregorius isn’t re-signed he could go back to being the primary shortstop. Jean is also 30 years old. With seemingly no desire to waive his no trade clause if approached he’s a sure bet for the 2021 roster. From my perspective that’s a good thing ...

Scott Kingery is signed thru the 2023 season with club options for three more years thereafter. The 26 year old is slated to make $ 4.25 million next season. 2020 was not a good season for Scott ... I feel that the effects of Covid lingered far beyond his initial battles with the virus. Akin to Segura he can play three infield positions well but also can play center field. From my perspective that’s his truest value, he’s a baseball player who is not impacted by playing multiple spots. Tying him to a singular position in my opinion diminishes his impact. Just sayin.

Middle infield experience is light beyond those three ... Phil Gosselin had a very productive 2020 season and Ronald Torreyes is a defensive whiz but both are pending free agents.

The 2020 Alternate Camp site roster included Bryson Stott ( 23 yrs old ), Nick Maton ( 23 yrs old ) and Luke Williams ( 24 yrs old ). Stott has only played short season baseball after being drafted in the first round of the 2019 draft while Maton finished the 2019 season at AA level Reading appearing in 21 games after playing in 93 at Clearwater. Williams spent the entire 2019 season at Reading but was used in a versatility role playing every defensive position expect pitcher and catcher ... he’s trained as an emergency catcher as well 😳.

If 2020 had been a normal season I would have expected Stott to begin at Clearwater and finish at Reading ... I think it’s not improbable that he starts 2021 with Reading at this point but a more conservative approach would have him start at High A ... I think he can hit upper level pitching right now with no issues.

Maton and Williams are both likely AAA candidates coming out of 2021 spring training. Williams versatility may even earn a big league job depending on how the Phillies fill the bench roles this offseason. Maton is steady at both second and shortstop ... a solid player with a quick short swing.

All three ( Stott, Williams and Maton ) are very likely to be in 2021 big league spring training. Both Williams and Maton are Rule 5 eligible this November if not protected on the 40 man roster.

Arquimedes Gamboa ( 23 yrs old ) remains in the mix after clearing waivers off the 40 man roster this summer. The young man has talent, especially defensively at short stop, but has yet to produce with consistency. He’s likely assigned to Reading for another chance to prove his worth but it wouldn’t be a surprise at all to see him slotted at Lehigh Valley with a decent showing this spring.

Both Danny Brito ( 22 yrs old ) and Jose Gomez ( 23 yrs old ) should be in the hunt for upper level jobs in 2021. Gomez had a solid campaign for Reading in 2019 and was a late add to the Arizona Fall League Roster .... Jose is a viable AAA candidate for 2021 and Danny should be the Reading primary second baseman out of Spring Training.

Dalton Guthrie ( 24 yrs old ), Luke Miller ( 24 yrs old ), Madison Stokes ( 24 yrs old ) and Matt Kroon ( 23 yrs old ) are all capable of playing middle infield innings as well. They have become versatility players during their brief careers. I’d expect that they will be competing for the Reading roster or some even for Lehigh Valley spots this spring with the fall back plan being a High A assignment.

Jonathan Guzman ( 21 yrs old ) and Luis Garcia ( 20 yrs old ) are likely choices to begin 2021 at the High A level. Both are outstanding fielders and participating in 2020 Fall Instructs. Each possess various big league capabilities and upside.

Kendall Simmons ( 20 yrs old ) has a power bat that many might associate with a corner infielder but he’s got defensive skills as well that make him a middle infield consideration. Although he’s yet to play on a full season roster his extended off season work this summer should put him in line for a potential High A assignment.

Casey Martin has yet to play a professional game but the 21 year old 2020 third round draft choice could make the jump to High A right out of the spring training gate in 2021. It’s a matter of how comfortable the staff is with his progress this Fall in Instructs and next spring. Nate Fassnacht ( 22 yrs old ) is another solid candidate to begin 2021 at the High A level ... the 2019 8th round draft choice might have made that jump in 2020 had there been a season.

There are plenty of candidates for the 2021 Low A roster, some of whom might even project at a higher level when it comes to roster placement ...

Guarner Dipre ( 19 yrs old ) and Jamari Baylor ( 20 yrs old ) have offensive skillsets that excite scouts and old baseball hawks like myself. They have each shown the ability to generate above average bat speed in the brief time I’ve observed. I could see them both in a position to accept the challenge of an initial full season assignment.

I also like the skills of 21 year old Nicolas Torres ... he had an excellent 2019 Fall Instructs and is back this fall as well. I’ve been very impressed with his defensive prowess at shortstop but the young man can also rake. He’s ready for a full season shot.

Alexeis Azuaje is just 18 years old and likely destined for 2021 GCL play after spending 2019 in the DSL but the little of what I saw of him in 2019 Fall Instructs was intriguing ... looks like a player who just knows how to play the game and is always a play ahead of the action ... keep the name in mind.

Chris Cornelius ( 23 yrs old ) broke his wrist during 2019 GCL play but despite that should be in competition for a full season roster spot this coming spring. Sal Gozzo ( 22 yrs old ) likewise should be in the mix after playing 2019 at the GCL level. From my perspective Luis Rojas ( 20 yrs old ), Christian Valerio ( 20 yrs old ) and Jose Tortolero ( 20 yrs old ) are all likely 2021 GCL roster selections but each young man has skills and qualities that should get them consideration for full season play this spring ... each has battled injuries and on field struggles but all three have talent that has plenty of time to develop and shine 👍.

My overall middle infield assessment is that at the big league level and the AAA rung of the minor leagues there will need to be additions made ... AA Reading may also need some tinkering although there are more internal options there. The lower levels are packed with multiple talents which should bode well for future years as well as potential trade considerations.

Today at Fall Instructs :

We spent a couple hours at the Complex this morning. Saw thru the fences PFP’s on Roberts Field, the catchers throwing to the bases on Ashburn and BP. Catcher Edgar Cabral appears to be all the way back from TJ surgery as he was winging the baseball at full speed to the bases in the catcher drill. Great to see as he worked very hard to get back to this point.

RHP Carson Ragsdale is a big dude ... he’s every bit of the 6’8” that he’s listed at ... perhaps more as he towered over his teammates in today’s drills. The 22 year old also appears to move really well ... made all his assigned plays in the fielding practices today. Anxious to see him throw.

The guys scrimmaged again today in the stadium ... no one allowed in to see. Covid is really camping my style 🤨... just kidding ... I’m on board with the protocols to keep everyone healthy 😷. The team will scrimmage the Pirates Fall Instructs squad tomorrow.

As always ... wishing you all health and safe keeping ...

Happy Day, Happy Baseball ⚾️

Keeping an eye out on the progress 🤓 ... photo by Barb Potter

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