There are still position battles for the Philadelphia roster going on in Clearwater and some key question marks that linger. As is the nature of the business, those battles have a domino effect on the Phillies minor league system and here at PBI we like to keep you up to date on “Phillies baseball… from the minors to the majors.” With that in mind, here’s an early look at what the IronPigs Triple-A roster may look like in 2022.
There is a weird phenomenon brought about by the lockout. While the major league schedule doesn’t begin until April 8, the minor league schedule has the IronPigs – and other teams across baseball – opening April 5th, before the majors. For Lehigh Valley and Reading, there is an exhibition game between the two squads on April 3rd. That means that some players that will be at Lehigh Valley might still be in the end stages of battling for a job in Philadelphia when the ‘Pigs open the season. Also, keep in mind that MLB is allowing teams to carry 28 players instead of 26 for the first month of the season because of the shortened spring training. Yes, lockout baseball at its best!
With those things having an effect on the minor league rosters, there is still plenty to glean from the early signs of the roster battles.
STARTING ROTATION – The Phillies have three starters who got off to late starts this spring. Zack Wheeler and Zach Eflin are coming off injuries and Ranger Suarez was late getting to camp because of travel issues. With that in mind, it’s likely that one of those two additional roster spots will be taken by either a starter who can give the Phillies a six-man rotation or piggyback with one of the later arrivals in a start. Philadelphia’s brain trust could also pull a little roster magic and have one of the guys who needs more time pitch for them on Friday and then place him on the 10-day IL and make a rehab start with Lehigh Valley and still return for their first scheduled start with the Phillies on April 12th.
- Lefties Bailey Falter and Cristopher Sanchez have both pitched well this spring and could take one of the extra roster spots with the Phillies. Eventually though both will likely be in the IronPigs rotation.
- Hans Crouse came over in the deal that brought Kyle Gibson and Ian Kennedy (remember him) from Texas. He has a solid upside and will pitch at Triple-A this season.
- Right-handers James Marvel and Jack Perkins also figure to be with Lehigh Valley. Marvel is an innings eater who came over from the Pirates organization and Perkins pitched primarily at Reading in 2021, but made six starts with the ‘Pigs.
- James McArthur and Francisco Morales also figure to be in the plans for Lehigh Valley.
- Mark Appel and Damon Jones are starting options, but will most likely pitch out of the bullpen.
BULLPEN – This is probably the most unsettled area not just for Lehigh Valley but throughout the Phillies organization. It has been made even murkier by some nagging injuries to guys like Sam Coonrod and Jose Alvarez that have thrown potential monkey wrenches into all of the planning. Here is the early line:
- Righties Mike Adams and Cam Bedrosian were mainstays of the IronPigs bullpen in 2021 and will return again this season. Their lefty counterparts are Jeff Singer and Braeden Ogle, with Kyle Dohy on the fringes. Figure that those five will likely be ready for duty come April 5th and the IronPigs opener.
- Now what? Left-hander Jakob Hernandez figures to be an IronPig in ’22. Righty Andrew Bellatti is interesting. He made 17 solid relief appearances with Tampa Bay in 2015 and then disappeared before returning to the majors last season with Miami. He made just three relief appearances and got smacked around like Chris Rock at the Oscars in his first outing against the Nationals. His last two outings were strong, including a shutout inning against the Phillies. He could be some insurance later in the season. Jake Newberry has pitched in 65 games over the past four seasons with Kansas City and will also serve as some insurance. RHP Nick Nelson has 22 games in the majors under his belt and has pitched well this spring, but is likely destined for Lehigh Valley unless one of the injured guys aren’t ready for the opener. Ditto for Ryan Sherriff, who has pitched in 44 MLB games with the Cardinals and the Rays.