The Phillies Opening Day roster is pretty much set now. Mickey Moniak and Bryson Stott, who both had monster Springs, presumably have both made the team. Alec Bohm and Matt Vierling, who had less spectacular Springs, also made the team.
Vierling is not exactly a surprise as Joe Giardi had announced prior to today that the Phillies would employ a platoon in center field between him and Odubel Herrera. Herrera has been dealing with an oblique strain and missed most of the Spring. He could also miss at least the first two weeks of the season. In his absence, Mickey Moniak has stepped up. Moniak was given an opportunity in camp and absolutely ran with it. He was notified on Sunday before the game that he did make the Opening Day roster. How did he respond? With two home runs and helped the Phillies get a win. He will most likely be the starter tonight.
Moniak was the #1 overall pick back in 2016. A portion of the fanbase has given up on him, giving him the label of “bust.” It’s definitely fair at this point to not be very excited about him. His ranking in the Phillies’ system began to tank as he stayed buried in the organization’s pipeline. As recently as 2017, he was ranked #2 in the Phillies’ system trailing only JP Crawford (remember him?). In 2018, he dropped to #5. Fast forward to this Spring, Moniak is ranked all the way down at #18. But, it’s very encouraging to see him smacking the ball all over the field in Clearwater. I have been saying it all winter, no matter who plays center field, they just have to be a mediocre to average nine-hitter and give the Phillies good defense. Moniak can most certainly do that. He will be the fifth outfielder on the roster behind Herrera whenever he returns. He could even be sent down when Herrera returns.
Bryson Stott will make the team as well. He has had probably the best preseason of anyone on the team. Stott was the Phillies’ first-round pick back in 2019 (14th overall) out of UNLV. It only took him two years to climb through the Phillies’ minor league system. For a franchise that usually takes a long time to call up its prospects, this is a really impressive climb by Stott. For reference, it took him the same amount of time to reach the big leagues as the #2 overall pick from the 2019 draft, Bobby Witt Jr. Witt is ranked as the #1 prospect in baseball now and has obviously made the Royals’ Opening Day roster.
Stott will open as the Opening Day third baseman and could platoon there with Bohm. Bohm could also see time at first if the Phillies wanted to DH Rhys Hoskins. If they put Bohm at first, which seems more possible now than it did a few days ago, the lineup would look like this:
- Schwarber, DH
- Segura, 2B
- Harper, RF
- Castellanos, LF
- Realmuto, C
- Hoskins, 1B
- Gregorius, SS
- Stott/Bohm, 3B
- Moniak/Vierling, CF
The Phillies’ prospects stepping up and finally taking control of regular playing time is exciting. It’s also good for the organization. Now, there are finally inexpensive pieces that will hopefully be playing major innings and getting a lot of at-bats to offset the contracts of Harper, Realmuto, Schwarber, and Castellanos. Teams don’t buy trophies. The Dodgers bought their trophy in 2020 but there was a lot more going on in that season which may or may not have given them an advantage in the playoffs. They have been in the playoffs pretty consistently for the last 10-15 years. They spend a lot, but they also have really prospects come through the system and play huge roles in their successful teams.
The point is, teams don’t get anywhere without homegrown talent. The Phillies finally are expecting the young players to be big contributors to their MLB roster. Other than Aaron Nola, Ranger Suarez, and Rhys Hoskins, the Phillies had basically no homegrown talent on the roster last year.
If these young guys can really prove to be building blocks, there is another justifiable reason for John Middleton to stay over the tax next winter. These young guys added to the core in place of Harper, Schwarber, Castellanos, and Realmuto will make for a very promising era of Phillies baseball. It all begins on Friday.