The Phillies open spring training in Clearwater, Florida next week. In preview, we take a look at five storylines:
Tuesday — 5 new faces to watch
Wednesday — 5 questions on the position side
Thursday — 5 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.
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.
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.
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.
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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