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2016 MLB roster outlook: Philadelphia Phillies


2016 MLB roster outlook: Philadelphia Phillies

2015 record: 63-99, 5th place in NL East

Manager: Pete Mackanin, 2nd season

Estimated 2016 payroll: $102 million

Key additions: SP Charlie Morton, SP Jeremy Hellickson, OF Peter Bourjos

Key losses: RP Ken Giles

Projected lineup

LF Peter Bourjos
2B Cesar Hernandez
CF Odubel Herrera
3B Maikel Franco
1B Ryan Howard
C Cameron Rupp
SS Freddy Galvis
RF Tyler Goeddel

Projected rotation

RHP Jeremy Hellickson
RHP Aaron Nola
RHP Vincent Velasquez
RHP Charlie Morton
RHP Jerad Eickhoff

Top relievers

CL Andrew Bailey
RHP Dalier Hinojosa
RHP David Hernandez

Biggest questions entering 2016

1. Can they start showing promise? The 2015 season marked the third straight year the Phillies finished under .500, as they lost 99 games and secured the worst record in baseball. That last distinction earned them the No. 1 overall pick in 2016, which is a nice consolation for hitting rock bottom, but they probably don't want to be back there again. We know the Phillies are rebuilding and that process continued this offseason. Is this the year they start showing progress, or will it be another long season in the basement of the NL East?

2. How will Franco, Nola and Herrera develop? A nucleus of young talent is starting to emerge for the Phillies. In 2015 they saw three young players in particular show promise and it will be interesting to see if they can take the next step this season. For their pitching staff, it's right-hander Aaron Nola, whom they drafted out of LSU with the seventh overall pick in 2014. He impressed as a rookie last season with a 3.59 ERA in 13 starts. In their lineup, look out for third baseman Maikel Franco, who hit 14 homers and posted an .840 OPS in 80 games as a 22-year-old last season. Also, Odubel Herrera was solid last season at just 23-years-old with a .344 OBP and .762 OPS in 147 games.

3. When will J.P. Crawford debut? Speaking of young talent, the Phillies have a potential star in their minor league system in former 16th overall pick J.P. Crawford. The versatile shortstop was ranked by in January as the fifth best prospect in all of baseball. He is a well-rounded hitter with the potential for 25-30 steals a season. Crawford reached Double-A last year and should be on track to make his MLB debut some time in 2016. When he does, he'll join Nola, Herrera and Franco as part of the Phillies' young core of franchise building blocks.

[Roster info via]

[RELATED: Does this NCAA Tournament star look like Bryce Harper?]

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The sound of Bryce Harper's first spring training HR is beautiful


The sound of Bryce Harper's first spring training HR is beautiful

It's that wonderful time of year again — when baseball teams flock to warmer climates for spring training and the regular season is practically around the corner — and Bryce Harper is already killing it.

It took the Washington Nationals a few games to brush away their offseason cobwebs and get back into gear, but since the beginning of March, they're riding a five-game win streak as of Sunday the 4th.

They are 6-4-1 in spring training going into Monday's matchup against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Since Thursday, the Nats have taken down — in order — the Atlanta Braves, New York Mets, defending World Series champion Houston Astros, the Detroit Tigers and the Mets again. Sunday's 6-2 win against the Tigers was in large part thanks to Harper's bat, as the star of the team drilled his first home run of spring training. 


Turn up the volume for this one because the sound of Harper's contact with the ball is just beautiful — and perhaps enough to get you pumped for the March 29 opener.

Harper blew this ball away in the bottom of the third for a two-run homer with Howie Kendrick on base. He also had a single in the fourth and finished the game with three RBI.

Gio Gonzalez was the winning pitcher for the Nats. 


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Per usual, Max Scherzer strikes out Tim Tebow on three pitches


Per usual, Max Scherzer strikes out Tim Tebow on three pitches

We are fortunate enough to live in a world where we can watch a former Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback (attempt to) hit against a three-time Cy Young pitcher in a Major League Baseball preseason game.

Max Scherzer took less than a minute to strike out Tim Tebow, who was batting cleanup for the Mets in a spring training game Friday. You can watch the whole at-bat here:

It looks like Tebow and Scherzer are starting to develop a pattern - last year’s matchup between the two went down the exact same way.

Tebow was able to redeem himself later in the game with his first hit of the year against Nats prospect Erick Fedde. He will likely begin the season with the Double-A Binghamton Rumble Ponies, but Mets GM Sandy Alderson said he believes Tebow will eventually see some at-bats in the Majors.