Throughout the 2017 MLB season, there hasn’t been much to cheer about as a Phillies’ fan. The season was a lost cause almost from the very start. However, in a sense, this was expected before the season even started. The Phillies were and still are a very young team that is a few years away from contention. This season and maybe the next, serve is a tryout or a chance for younger prospects to try and make name for themselves in the big leagues. Luckily for the Phillies, a few prospects have made name for themselves and in a big way.
For a few years now Aaron Nola has been a lock to be a part of the Phillies future contending rosters. However, in that time, he has only really been regarded as a number two or three starter in the rotation. This season he has proven otherwise. Nola’s pitching in the middle and late parts of the season have raised his status as someone who could be the number one starter or ace of a pitching staff. His full season stats tell a story but not the whole story. Nola has been pitching to the tune of a 10-10 record with a 3.71 ERA so far this year. However, a handful of his starts this year have given us snapshots of the kind of pitcher he can be, a staff ace. One of his best starts came against the Atlanta Braves in June when Nola went eight innings, scattering just five hits and giving up just one earned run. That wasn’t his only masterful start, Nola strung together a few good starts in late June into July. Over the stretch of seven starts, he was 5-1 with a 1.49 ERA, giving further evidence of his potential to be the Phillies’ staff ace of the future.
Nola hasn’t been the only young player impressing this year, since their promotions Nick Williams and Rhys Hoskins have been providing much excitement for the future. Williams was the first to be called up as he made his debut at the end of June at Citi Field against the Mets. Since then, Williams has been making a solid case to be a part of the Phillies’ future core as he continues to have success in the major leagues more than two months later. Since his call-up, Williams has played in 64 games compiling 10 homeruns, 12 doubles, and 45 RBI’s while slashing .287/.341/.492. His performance suggests he’s a part of the future outfield and should continue to get better as he gains more experience.
Although more recent, Hoskins’ call-up has made a just as much noise as Williams, if not more. Hoskins had 29 homeruns through 115 games with the Phillies’ AAA affiliate, the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs which led many to clamor for his immediate call-up to the big leagues. The Phillies waited a bit before finally making the call on August 10th when he finally made his long awaited debut against the Mets at Citizens Bank Park. His start in the big leagues was not particular good as he began 0-12 at the plate. However, a west coast swing was seemingly all he needed to start heating up as he crushed his first two homeruns out in San Diego and the rest was history. “Rhys Lightning” as he quickly became known by, wrote his name in the history books as he became the fastest player to 14 homeruns, collecting them in just his first 30 games. All the homeruns can be seen below in an MLB.com video. Hoskins has provided a much need power jolt to this team while also hitting for average. He is currently slashing .296/.420/1.142 in 31 games with the Phillies.
His performance at the plate is tremendous but there is still a cloud of uncertainty hanging over his position in the field. Since his call-up, Hoskins has been playing a combination of left field and first base but his natural position is first base. Manager Pete Mackanin has elected to keep Tommy Joseph in the lineup and therefore blocking Hoskins at first base. In future, particularly to start the 2018 season, Hoskins should be the everyday first baseman of the future.
Additionally, JP Crawford also finally made his long awaited major league debut recently. The highly touted shortstop prospect has been making his way through the Phillies’ system for a few years now and was highly regarded as the Phillies’ shortstop of the future. Crawford made his debut on September 5th, oddly enough like Williams and Hoskins, against the Mets. He is largely unproven after limited time in the MLB. In just six games so far this year, Crawford is slashing .200/.200/.250. He is projected to be a part of the future but a longer look at him is needed before making the final call.
Tonight, September 12th, the Phillies’ lineup against the Marlins features a large part of the future. Starting in the outfield are three players that are almost locks as a part of the future core. Aaron Altherr will play left field, Odubel Herrera will play centerfield, and Williams will play right field. Hoskins gets a very rare start at first while Crawford will play second. Jorge Alfaro, a lesser known candidate for the future, will be the starting catcher. If you are curious to see how this team will look in the future, watch the game tonight as the majority of the players will be in the starting lineup next year and hopefully for years to come.