Here’s an early look at where things stand now for the Phillies organization center field postion inclusive of where some of the minor leaguers might project for the 2021 season. Just my thoughts ...
The big club used four different players in center field during the 2020 season with Roman Quinn ( 27 yrs old ), Adam Haseley ( 24 yrs old ), Scott Kingery ( 26 yrs old ) and Bryce Harper ( 27 yrs old ) each appearing at the position.
Quinn showed flashes of what makes him such an intrigue ... just can’t teach speed like he possesses ... but also his faults of sometimes being over aggressive as a fielder and an elongated swing as a hitter. Off speed pitches have always been his nemesis.
Haseley had a decent season in a limited role, it’s my belief he had some lower leg issues that hindered his ability to be on the field more consistently. Adam is a very steady player who usually plays the game “the right way”, fundamentally sound. He reminds me of a “St. Lous Cardinal type” ... guys who are taught well and know how to go about their business.
We spoke about Kingery in our middle infield discussion ... he’s not going to hinder the team at any defensive position he plays, in fact will do quite well. As an outfielder he’s not in possession of the arm strength a skipper might desire however he’s more than adequate. Scott struggled this summer with the effects of having Covid.
Harper belongs in right field ... enough said, he was only playing center field this season due to need as caused by injuries and illnesses.
Mickey Moniak ( 22 yrs old ) should enter 2021 as the everyday center fielder for AAA Lehigh Valley. It’s my belief that he has a very good MLB career ahead of him, my comparison is the Yankees Brett Gardner ... Mickey has the tools to become that type of player. I believe he’s more dedicated to his profession than in his teen years and that drive will propel him forward.
Perhaps the best immediate resource in center field is the scorned Odubel Herrera ... the 28 year old obviously doesn’t fit into the team’s future plans and since that’s the case cutting ties should be done this offseason so that all involved can move ahead.
Simon Muzziotti ( 21 yrs old ) should be the everyday center field at AA Reading to begin the 2021 season. He’s also a toolsy player who’s very good defensively and is a steady offensive performer. A decision will need to be made this off season as he’s rule 5 eligible and if left unprotected it may be enticing for another organization to select him in the draft. Simon is a slender young man, very quick and energetic. He’s a Cesar Geronimo type player for those who can remember back to the slick centerfielder of the Big Red Machine in the 1970’s.
Carlos De La Cruz ( 21 yrs old ) may be the tallest center fielder I’ve ever watched play at 6’8”. The young man has a powerful swing as a hitter and possesses an equally strong throwing arm. He’s very athletic and prowls center field better than one might expect. He is likely to see a great deal of time there at the A level of play ( presumably High A ).
Johan Rojas ( 20 yrs old ) projects to be the centerfielder for the Low A club in 2021. He’s an exciting player to watch, has multiple tools and can really run. Johan led two leagues in triples in 2019 ... I’m eager to see what he does in a full season platform.
Malvin Matos ( 24 yrs old ) and Corbin Williams ( 22 yrs old ) should also push for time at the A level. Matos could even be an option for the Reading roster. Williams is perhaps even faster than Roman Quinn but will need to strengthen his offensive game to continue to climb ... singles are like doubles for him ... he stole 30 bases in just 58 games at Williamsport in 2019 but only had an OBP of .302 in 232 plate appearances and struck out 74 times. Matos is a guy who’s battled the injury bug but when he’s been on the field the talent shines thru, the skill set is there.
Hunter Markwardt ( 23 yrs old ) and Keaton Greenwalt ( 22 yrs old ) are also speedsters and very good outfield defenders. Each young man should compete this spring for a full season roster slot and playing time. Hunter was hurt ( broken nose ) when he collided with the fence going all out Aaron Rowland in Williamsport during the 2019 season and missed most of the summer. Keaton played the 2019 season in the GCL. Both are solid players who just need a platform to perform.
Jose Cedeno ( 19 yrs old ) will likely return to the GCL for continuing development ... if he can strengthen his offense there’s a lot of other tools to work with that make him very intriguing.
I think Marcus Lee Sang ( 19 yrs old ) will likely project as a corner outfielder but at this point there’s certainly a skill set that one could see him in center field as well. He’s got a great arm and speed. It will be fun to watch the young man next spring and summer to see how his development continues.
The Phillies development staff will play each of their outfielders in multiple positions by design in order to prepare them in case a need arises ... it’s something they’ve done for awhile now.
At the major league level, in my humble opinion, Roman Quinn is best utilized as a fourth outfield type that can impact situations with his speed. His inconsistent plate approach at this point restricts him beyond that. Adam Haseley is a Harrison Bader ( Cardinals ) comparable, a steady performer who knows how to play the game.
Mickey Moniak has the tools to become a Brett Gardner type player, that’s certainly not a bad thing. Simon Muzziotti is likely at least two seasons away from making a big league appearance as are Carlos De La Cruz and Johan Rojas.
The most complete player of the group in regards to capability is Rojas in my view ... he’s got every tool needed to excel. There’s a ways yet to go in his development but I see a similar work ethic akin to Alec Bohm’s and a desire to get there ... it’s very early in his career but I am betting on him to do so.
That’s not to discount the other players mentioned herein, they just need further opportunities to display and hone their skills. Each player has their own merits and with a strengthening of their weaknesses and enhancement of their strengths each could climb the ladder of success to the show ... it’s the dream that can become reality ... it’s all part of it.
Happy Day, Happy Baseball ⚾️
Photo of Reading game action by George Youngs Jr