10/8/2020 : 2020 Phillies Review/2021 look ahead - Corner Infielders
Here’s an early look at where things stand now for the corner infield positions inclusive of where some of the minor leaguers might project for the 2021 season. Just my thoughts ... no inside intel whatsoever.
First Base :
Rhys Hoskins will likely be spending a good deal of time this off season in Clearwater working his way back from elbow surgery ... it’s an estimated four to six month recovery. Most often the rehab work is done at the Complex with the training crew there. Assuming Rhys is able to get back in that time frame he should be back on the field mid to late March at the worst.
That should open some more opportunities at least in Spring Training for a couple of my favorites to showcase their abilities and with good reviews perhaps even make the club. It’s expected that the DH will continue in 2021 so there’s also the chance Rhys could open in that role rather than play defensively to allow more healing time for the elbow.
Jay Bruce ( 33 yrs old ) could return, he’s a free agent, but he’s not really comfortable as a fielder at first base as evidenced by his play this summer. Folks often discount the footwork needed to do well at the position ... Jay struggled in that area.
Darrick Hall ( 25 yrs old ) and Austin Listi ( 26 yrs old ) are both likely slated for Lehigh Valley in 2021 ... Listi as a multi position player ( OF,3B,DH) and Hall as a 1B/DH. They also should get opportunities this coming spring to make a push for the big club. Darick has been the most productive power bat in the minor league organization during his four year career and Austin is a flat out “professional hitter”. Both are Rule 5 eligible this offseason if not protected on the 40 man roster.
Beyond those two the first base position at the upper minor league levels is relatively thin. Perhaps Greg Bird ( 27 yrs old ) returns on a minor league contract after signing late this summer to compete for a job in ST.
Matt Kroon ( 23 yrs old ), Luke Miller ( 24 yrs old ) and Madison Stokes ( 24 yrs old ) would seem to have the inside track for jobs at Reading ... all three play additional infield positions other than first base and finished the 2019 season at Clearwater.
The Advanced A first base position is also likely to be shared amongst infielders who play other spots ... McCarthy Tatum ( 24 yrs old ) and Cole Stobbe ( 23 yrs old ) seem likely to be in the mix however I could also see Tatum making a push for Reading this spring.
Low A candidates are likely to be Rixon Wingrove ( 20 yrs old ) and Rudy Rott ( 24 yrs old ) as well as Vito Friscia ( 23 yrs old ) however all three, depending on their development during this non season, could project higher to start 2021. Wingrove and Rott are seen primarily as first basemen while Friscia also is a catcher.
I think that DJ Stewart ( 21 yrs old ) and Juan Herrera ( 20 yrs old ) could see time at first base ... perhaps at the Low A level but I see them as primarily third basemen ... a perfect segway to the discuss the “hot corner” 🤓.
Third Base :
Alec Bohm ( 24 yrs old ) certainly displayed his skills this summer in what I believe should be awarded by winning the National League Rookie of the Year designation. It’s been my contention from the first time that we saw him play at the Complex that he’s fully capable of being a good defensive third baseman as well. There will be growing pains and occasionally he will shift over to first base as well but to me his long term position is the hot corner.
Jean Segura ( 30 yrs old ) played admirably at third base this summer, in fact he played well also at second base ... perhaps the position he’s best suited for. A lot will depend on whether the team is able to re-sign Didi Gregorius this offseason ... if they don’t then Jean likely will go back to shortstop full time.
At the Triple A level Austin Listi is certainly in the mix, he’s capable of manning the hot corner ... in fact his defensive versatility and hitting ability are his tickets to the big leagues. The club will have to sign some minor league free agents this off season to be in the mix as well. Versatile infielders like Ronald Torreyes ( 28 yrs old ), Luke Williams ( 24 yrs old ) and Nick Maton ( 23 yrs old ) could also see action at third but their value is better recognized in the middle infield spots.
Reading could see McCarthy Tatum make the jump from the 2019 Lakewood roster over the High A level. He’s definitely capable of handling the hot corner defensively. Dalton Guthrie ( 24 yrs old ), Matt Kroon, Luke Miller and Madison Stokes are also capable defenders at third.
Advanced A could see Kendall Simmons ( 20 yrs old ) out of the gate this spring as a third baseman, he’s also played second base in his brief pro career and was signed as a shortstop. Jake Holmes ( 22 yrs old ) is a strong candidate for this level and can also play first base. I’d expect Tatum or one of the others mentioned as potential Reading candidates to start the 2021 season at High A as well.
The Low A level likely has DJ Stewart in the mix at the hot corner with occasional time at first base and the outfield as well. I see Juan Herrera also making a push for a full season roster spot this spring despite only having played at the DSL level previously.
Edgar Made ( 20 yrs old ) can rake and should get a shot at 2021 full season play with third base and second base being primary spots for him. There’s an abundance of middle infielders that should be making a push for full season in 2021 so it’s also likely some of them could see time at third base.
I’ll discuss the middle infield outlook in my next article ... till then ...
Happy Day, Happy Baseball ⚾
Mark Wylie Photo from 2020 Fall Instructs