Phillies

Countdown to Clearwater: A peek at a few Phillies prospects

Countdown to Clearwater: A peek at a few Phillies prospects

The Phillies open spring training in Clearwater, Florida next week. In preview, we take a look at five storylines:

Tuesday5 new faces to watch

Wednesday5 questions on the position side

Thursday5 questions on the pitching side

Friday — Prospects to watch

Saturday — 5 people with something to prove

It's always fun to get a peek at some of the prospects who will be in big-league camp for the first time and there are plenty worth watching over at the minor-league complex, as well. We picked out five. And, yes, Sixto Sanchez was supposed to be on the list, but he was traded in the J.T. Realmuto deal on Thursday so we'll use a pinch-hitter for him.

MICKEY MONIAK

Moniak has gotten a lot of attention since being the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 draft and now he will get some more in his first trip to big-league camp. The left-handed hitting outfielder has endured some struggles in his first 2½ seasons of pro ball, but he showed improvement in the second half of the season at Single A Clearwater last year by hitting .302 with 24 extra-base hits and an .829 OPS over his final 52 games. Moniak could open the season back in Clearwater but he will have a chance to play himself to Double A before the season is out. He's added strength to his 6-3 frame and he won't turn 21 until May. This will be a big year in gauging his development and what kind of prospect he is.

ADAM HASELEY

Haseley is another guy who has gotten a lot of attention since being selected eighth overall in the 2017 draft after a stellar three-year run at the University of Virginia. Like Moniak, he is also headed to his first big-league camp. Haseley hit .305 with 11 homers and a .795 OPS between Clearwater and Double A Reading last season. Haseley turns 23 in April and it will be interesting to see if he complements his on-base skills with more power as he matures. It's likely that will get to Triple A at some point this season. Will the Phils assign him there in April? We'll see.

EDGAR GARCIA

Last year, Seranthony Dominguez got everyone's attention during his first trip to big-league camp. In May, he was called to the majors and quickly became Gabe Kapler's favorite bullpen weapon.

Garcia might be able to make a similar rise in 2019. The 22-year-old right-hander was added to the 40-man roster in November after recording a 3.64 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP in 52 games at Double A and Triple A in 2018. In 64⅓ innings, he struck out 72 batters, walked 27 and held opposing hitters to a .206 batting average.

Like Dominguez, whose fastball can reach triple digits, Garcia has a dominant pitch — a slider that ranks among the best in the organization. Given the way the Phillies run young relievers back and forth between Triple A and the majors, it would not be surprising to see Garcia in Philadelphia at some point this season. For now, he heads to his first big-league camp.

DEIVI GRULLON and AUSTIN LISTI

Two for the price of one here. We're looking forward to seeing both of these guys swing the bat in big-league camp. Grullon profiles as the organization's Triple A catcher and he's got some power in his bat. He hit 21 homers at Double A Reading last season.

Listi, an outfielder/DH type, hit .312 with 25 doubles, 18 homers and a .915 OPS between Clearwater and Reading last season. He reached base 41 percent of the time. Listi is 25 so he needs to move quickly, but he has a very intriguing bat. A Triple A test seems likely.

SPENCER HOWARD

This guy will be in minor-league camp but he's worth checking out because of the improvement he made last season and the buzz he has created with other teams. As the Phillies probed trade markets this winter, Howard was one of the guys rival teams wanted in return and the Phils were reluctant to move him.

Howard, 22, is a 6-3, 205-pound right-hander. He was the team's second-round pick (45th overall) out of Cal-Poly San Luis Obispo in 2017. He pitched at Single A Lakewood in 2018 and had a 3.78 ERA in 23 starts. In 112 innings, he allowed 101 hits, struck out 147 and walked 40. He finished his season with a nine-strikeout, one-walk no-hitter in the South Atlantic League playoffs.

Scouts love Howard's pure "stuff." During the 2018 season, he added velocity to his fastball and reached the high-90s at times, and his slider is an excellent pitch. Over 32 pro starts, he has averaged 12 strikeouts per nine innings.

It wouldn't be surprising to see Howard tested in Double A at some point in the 2018 season.

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A step forward for Aaron Nola and a dream come true for Phil Gosselin

A step forward for Aaron Nola and a dream come true for Phil Gosselin

DENVER — Phil Gosselin had been here before, just not in front of 40,530 fans.

“I’ve been up with the bases loaded a lot for the Phillies,” he said late Saturday night in the visiting clubhouse at Coors Field. “It was just in my backyard as a kid and it didn’t really count.”

This one counted.

“It felt good to come through,” he said with a smile.

Gosselin grew up in West Chester, saw his first big-league game at Veterans Stadium wearing a Scott Rolen shirt, and went on to star at Malvern Prep and the University of Virginia. All these years later, after stops on the big-league trail in Atlanta, Arizona, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and Texas, Gosselin helped the team he grew up rooting for — the team that he says made him fall in love with baseball — win a game.

The 30-year-old infielder clubbed a three-run double in the fourth inning to give the Phils a lead that they never relinquished in an 8-5 win over the Colorado Rockies (see observations).

What would that little kid in the backyard think now?

“He would think it was all a dream, to be honest,” Gosselin said. “It was always a goal of mine. I never thought I was that great. I never thought I’d be in the big leagues, if I’m being honest. It was one of those pinch-yourself kind of moments.”

Gosselin signed a minor-league deal with the Phils in December and was recalled from Triple A Lehigh Valley on Wednesday. He got the start, his first with the Phils, at shortstop after the team placed Scott Kingery and Jean Segura on the injured list earlier Saturday (see story). Both have hamstring injuries. Gosselin will likely play shortstop until Segura is eligible to come off the IL next weekend. Kingery will need more time than that.

Gosselin’s three-run double, coupled with Bryce Harper’s three-run home run late in the game, helped make a winner out of Aaron Nola on a night when the right-hander showed signs of being his old self after a rough start to the season. Gosselin’s no-out double was a long fly ball to right-center that kept carrying and carrying before hitting the top of the wall.

“I wasn’t sure if it was going to get off the wall or not,” he said. “I was talking to it the whole way. Luckily, I got enough of it.”

One night earlier, Gosselin entered the game after Kingery injured himself. He stroked a two-out single in the top of the 12th and came around to score on a double by Harper. For a few moments, it looked as if he was going to be one of the stars of an extra-innings win. Then Charlie Blackmon ended all the Phillies’ feel-good storylines with a two-run homer in the bottom of the inning and Gosselin’s hit was just a footnote to what manager Gabe Kapler called a “brutal” loss.

“Good organizations, teams that win, have guys like Gosselin come up and perform in big moments,” Kapler said. “You can't win a lot of games, you can't go to the postseason, unless you have guys from the minor leagues come up and perform. Your non-roster guy that gets a big hit for you. He's been swinging the bat really well. He's earned the right to keep rolling.

“I can only imagine what it's like to grow up in the Philadelphia area as a die-hard Phillies fan and then to come through like he did. He must be on top of the world right now.”

Even beyond the victory, which improved the Phils to 12-8, there was something important to feel good about. Nola had struggled in his previous outings. Though he allowed 10 base runners in 5 2/3 innings, he battled, made big pitches and got big outs — he had nine strikeouts — at crucial junctures of the game.

“His back was against the wall early on,” Kapler said. “He's just a fighter. Nothing fazes Aaron Nola. I know that this has been tough to struggle a little bit. But he showed you why he is such a strong performer. He's able to withstand some of that pressure.

“It was really comforting to see him come out and perform like that for us.”

Nola’s fastball reached 95 mph and his curveball got better and better as the night went on.

“I didn’t get a 1-2-3 inning all night,” Nola said. “There was always traffic on base so I had to bear down and focus on making quality pitches.”

Something to build on?

“Absolutely,” Nola said.

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Phillies 8, Rockies 5: Aaron Nola battles; Phil Gosselin, Bryce Harper lead offense

Phillies 8, Rockies 5: Aaron Nola battles; Phil Gosselin, Bryce Harper lead offense

BOX SCORE

DENVER — The Phillies finally solved the beast of Coors Field in an 8-5 win over the Colorado Rockies on Saturday night.

Aaron Nola delivered a solid start in earning the win and Phil Gosselin and Bryce Harper both drove in three runs.

Gosselin, a West Chester native and former Malvern Prep star making his first start, gave the Phils the lead with a bases-loaded double in the fourth.

The win snapped the Phillies' six-game losing streak in Coors Field, dating to September.

The Phils are 12-8, first place in the NL East.

Colorado is 8-13.

The keys

• Nola showed tremendous intangibles — resilience and toughness. He allowed first-pitch homers in the first and second innings and pitched with traffic on the bases most of the night. But he got big outs when he had to. For instance, he struck out two with the bases loaded to end the third inning, preventing a one-run Colorado inning from getting bigger. He got a big strikeout with a runner on third to end the fourth and stranded two in the fifth.

• Big hits had been scarce for the Phillies in this series, but they got one from Gosselin, a three-run double in the fourth inning.

• Nola helped himself at the plate. His successful sacrifice bunt in the third inning sent Maikel Franco to second and set up a two-out RBI single by Cesar Hernandez.

• Charlie Blackmon is always a thorn in the Phillies’ side. He won Friday night’s game for the Rockies with a two-run homer in the 12th then hit the first pitch Nola threw out of the park to give the Rockies a 1-0 lead in this one. Blackmon had hits in each of his first three at-bats against Nola. Nola struck out the first two batters in the bottom of the sixth but manager Gabe Kapler would not allow the right-hander to face Blackmon again, not in a one-run game. He summoned lefty Adam Morgan and he used his slider-fastball combo to strike out Blackmon and end the inning. Morgan has pitched nine scoreless innings this season. He has allowed three hits and one walk. He has struck out 10.

• Harper made everyone in the Phillies’ dugout breathe a little easier when he smacked a three-run homer in the seventh to turn a one-run lead into a four-run lead. That was big because the Rockies rallied for a pair of runs in the bottom of the eighth. Hector Neris survived a near game-tying homer by Trevor Story in the eighth en route to a five-out save. Andrew McCutchen clubbed a solo homer in the ninth to give Neris a little extra cushion.

Nola's night

Nola had struggled in his previous three outings so this was a clear step forward. Though he allowed nine hits over 5 2/3 innings, he limited the Rockies to three runs by getting big outs. He struck out nine and really seemed to find his breaking ball late in the outing. He got seven swinging strikes on the pitch. His fastball touched 95 mph. All in all, definitely something to build on.

Transactions

There were lots of them as the Phils placed three players on the injured list. The full recap and what it all means is here (see story).

Up next

Jerad Eickhoff, healthy after dealing with something similar to carpal tunnel syndrome the last two seasons, makes his first start of the new season in the series finale Sunday afternoon. He will face Rockies’ right-hander Jon Gray.

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