When the national pundits are going through their division predictions, the Philadelphia Phillies are almost universally picked to finish fourth in a competitive National League East.

The rotation is weak after the top two of Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler. The bullpen can’t be relied upon. Rhys Hoskins might play more like his second-half numbers last year.

Centerfield is going to be a struggle all season long.

Out of all those reasons, it’s that last one that really gets under my skin, and it’s clear the national media hasn’t paid attention to what centerfield can be for the Phillies this season.

Adam Haseley

, the eighth overall pick in the 2017 draft, stands to get most of the starts in center this season. He came up to the Show earlier than expected last season, after an injury to Andrew McCutchen. And for a guy who didn’t have much minor league experience before being called up, he was quite impressive when he made it to Philadelphia, even if his numbers – .266/.324/.396 with five home runs and 26 RBI – were average at best.

He never seemed like a deer in the headlights, and he improved as the season went on. His defense was superb, frequently making highlight-reel catches. All of this is what led General Manager Matt Klentak to declare he expects Haseley to be the Phillies’ everyday centerfielder this season.

This is the same guy who hit .292 in his minor league career, and .309 in college. It’s what led the Phillies to draft him as high as they did. It’s why he quickly surpassed former number one overall pick Mickey Moniak as the top outfield prospect the Phillies had. There’s no reason to think that he won’t be able to keep his development surging ahead. And if he does happen to struggle, Roman Quinn is there to pick him up. In fact, the Phillies are so high on Quinn that it wouldn’t be a surprise for the two of them to platoon in the early stages of the season.

Quinn’s bat is pretty average, and his defense is decent. But where he shines is his speed. He is truly a difference-maker when he’s on base, making the opposing pitcher think about him and lose his focus on the guy at the plate. If Quinn gets in scoring position, he can score on a single to the outfield. His speed could be the thing that starts a rally for the Phillies.

Now Quinn is only a valuable asset if he can stay healthy, something he has struggled with every single season. But if he can have a full, healthy season, he’ll have a tremendous impact.

Of course, Haseley and Quinn aren’t in the upper echelon of centerfielders. They’re no Mike Trout, Cody Bellinger, or George Springer. But the potential is there for them blossom into premier ballplayers.

As the season goes on, both of them, especially Haseley since he’ll be getting the majority of the at-bats, will continue to improve.
And by the end of the season, the national media should be talking about why centerfield is one of the reasons the Phillies made the playoffs.

Featured Image: @CMaddaloniSC
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