Spring Training officially ended today, with staff, equipment and personnel heading back to our favorite city in the world, Philadelphia. Thompson and our beloved Phillies roster are off to Texas for Opening Day, where Aaron Nola will continue his streak as the Phillies Opening Day starter for the 2023 season, lining up against a familiar foe, Jacob Degrom, the Texas Rangers prized off-season acquisition. Dombrowski and Thompson had to make the final roster decisions, leaving some still chasing their dream back to the bigs, and others celebrating their break with the big league camp. Unfortunately, a major blow came up late last week as the Phillies will now be without Rhys Hoskins, who was lost for the 2023 season due to a torn ACL.
Phillies brass came into spring with a few offseason questions about how the roster would finalize, with a few bench spots open, the 5th spot in the starting rotation, as well as figuring out the replacement for Bryce Harper while he continues to rehab from Tommy John surgery. Phillies personnel and fans were able to really dig in and evaluate the talent competing for the roster as well as what our minor league system will look like, especially with Kyle Schwarber, Trea Turner, and JT Realmuto away from the team with Team USA at the World Baseball Classic. This gave Rob Thompson the opportunity to get real playing time for Kody Clemens, Scott Kingery, Jake Cave, Darick Hall, and Daulton Guthrie, the main 5 playing for the final bench spots, with Edmundo Sosa, Garrett Stubbs, and Josh Harrison all but locks to make the roster.
Coming into Spring Training, Darick Hall seemed like the logical choice to fill in at DH while Harper ramped up his activity and targets a July return, however, Hall will now be called upon to replace Rhys Hoskins at 1B, a huge opportunity for him to showcase his future with the club. Rhys is free agent at the end of the year, meaning we may have seen the last of Rhys in Red Pin Stripes. The 6-foot-4 left-handed hitting Hall hit nine home runs and batted .250 in 41 games with the Phillies last season. The 27-year-old Hall, has 28 career home runs and 88 RBI in 101 games at Triple-A Lehigh Valley. Phillies fans are optimistic that Hall can fill in for Rhys, as his injury now leaves a major void in the lineup. Rhys finished the 2022 campaign with 30 home runs and 79 rbis which will now lie on the shoulder of Hall. Phillies fans can remember and are comparing a similar situation, when Ryan Howard filled in for an injured Jim Thome, eventually leading the Phillies to move on from Jim. Phillies are also expected to be surveying the landscape of other clubs as teams make final cuts and have been tied to other 1b sluggers such as CJ Cron, Christian Walker, and Darrin Ruf.
Jake Cave’s unbelievable spring led to him claiming one of the final roster spots. Cave looks to back up Brendan Marsh as well as act as a utility outfielder, giving Rob Thompson the opportunity to get Kyle Schwarber and Nick Castellanos some time at DH. They were originally signed and intended to play and split the DH spot but were forced into the field due to the elbow injury suffered by Harper. Being able to keep Schwarber and Castellanos fresh with time out of the field should be huge for the Phillies in the dog days of summer. Jake Cave’s spring started hot and never seemed to cool off. He finished Grapefruit league play batting .440 with 3 home runs, 14 RBIs and a 1.301 OPS. Daulton Guthrie claimed the final bench spot, beating out Kingery and Clemens, and giving Rob Thompson another strong outfield option to back up Marsh in Center as well as the corner outfield spots. Clemens and Kingery both had huge springs and should be up with the Phillies at some point this season.
Wrapping up the final decisions, Phillies seemed to lock up the rotation and bullpen, with Matt Strahm and Baily Falter sliding into the 4th and 5th spots in the rotation as Ranger Suarez and Andrew Painter continue to rehab from injury. Strahm and Falter will join Nola, Wheeler and Taijuan Walker. The projected bullpen will consists of Craig Kimbrel, Seranthony Dominguez, Gregory Soto, Jose Alvarado, Andrew Bellatti, Connor Brogdon, Yunior Marte and Andrew Vasquez.
With that said, the squad seems set, unless Dombrowski makes a final move before the season starts. Phillies will start the season with 3 games in Texas, 3 games in New York against the Yankees before finally making their home debut on April 6th against the Cincinnati Reds. Baseball is back and its time for Bedlam at the Bank.