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  • Writer's pictureSteve Potter

6/26/22 : Next Man Up

When the Atlanta Braves lost Ronald Acuna Jr last season many felt it was an injury they could not overcome. Instead they re-tooled - we know how it turned out 😳. Last evening when Bryce Harper was hit by a pitch and suffered a fractured thumb Phillies fans everywhere felt as if we all were kicked in the groin. Losing the reigning MVP for an extended period of time is very disheartening.

As one who watches both Phillies major and minor league games each and every day religiously I’ve always advocated for the young men in the system. Unfortunate as it is to lose a superstar player at the top level opportunity for another player to step up and join collectively with teammates to fill the void presents itself. No one player is going to replace the production that Mr. Harper brings, that’s a given, but it doesn’t mean the club won’t be able to continue winning ways if multiple players provide pieces of the energy and production.

It’s obvious that veterans such as Kyle Schwarber, Nick Castellanos, Rhys Hoskins, JT Realmuto & Didi Gregorius must step even more forward for success to not waver. It’s equally obvious that a reliance on younger players to expand their support roles is now needed just as much.

Mickey Moniak seemingly gets the first chance to re-join the roster. He’s hit the baseball well this past week against Norfolk at the AAA level ( 9 for 24 - .375 ) ,has a six game hitting streak in tow and is coming off a three hit game. The gaps in his game are still evident, susceptibility to off speed pitches and limitations defensively however I’ve always been confident that he can contribute at the big league level, it’s a matter of doing it and convincing folks that he can.

Nick Maton is here in Clearwater and has been actively participating in live BP sessions against rehabbing pitchers as well as taking regular batting practice. I admire his upbeat style and team sprit and believe he adds more than on field skills to any club he’s on. Nick is energy - something every club needs. He also is a much better player than some accredit. In my opinion Nick is capable of being a lineup regular at either second base or shortstop, a solid contributor. Thing is the club currently already has similar energy in Johan Camargo & Yairo Munoz as supporting infield players.

Everyone who reads me knows I’m a huge fan and supporter of Darick Hall. There is no other player in the minor league organization that has provided the run production and home run power that the 26 year old has. His 19 home runs and 65 RBIs at the AAA level for Lehigh Valley are both organization leaders this year but he’s always been an RBI leader throughout his career. This year he’s been more consistent as well - this week against Norfolk Darick has gone 8 for 23 ( .347 ) with 2 home runs and eight RBIs, like Moniak he too is riding a six game hitting streak. Darick is a very good first baseman defensively, he would provide an option to use Rhys Hoskins interchangeably as the DH. He’s also played a bit in both outfield corners albeit his range is limited. If there’s a long term need then in my humble opinion the big fella is a very viable option to see what he can do at the next level. Previous knocks have been inconsistencies and the ability to hit off speed pitching - we’ve seen both addressed this summer. Multiple hits have come against off speed deliveries - from my continuing perspective I’ve always believed he can contribute at the next level if afforded the chance.

No one can or will replace the offense that Bryce Harper generates but the remaining games on the schedule will be played regardless - it’s time to explore who the next man up will be and whether the void can be filled internally that affords a continued chase towards a playoff spot. Just saying - there are options.

Happy Day, Happy Baseball ⚾️

Spring training photo by Mark Wylie

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