The weather is warming up, and it’s officially baseball season. Spring training games are underway as the Phillies battle in Clearwater, Florida as a part of the Grapefruit League. As players fight to make the roster and earn roles for the regular season, here are the top ten players to keep your eye on this March:
- Jose Alvarado
Alvarado, who is expected to be a critical piece of the Phillies bullpen this season, was electric in his spring debut. The Phillies brought him in for a needed boost in velocity, but his average fastball velocity was down from 97.1 in 2019 to 96.1 last year.
However, Alvarado brought the heat in his spring debut, as he only threw nine pitches in an inning of work, seven of which were sinkers that had an average speed of almost 99.0 mph. Two of those sinkers registered at 100 mph and 100.3 mph. He added another scoreless inning of work on Tuesday against the Blue Jays. If he can keep it up throughout the spring, it’ll be a sight to see how hard and effective Alvarado will be throwing in the summer months.
- Chase Anderson
Anderson made his spring debut last Friday and pitched two perfect innings. To make his outing even more impressive, he only needed 18 pitches for those two innings, as he struck out three as well. It was more than a solid outing for Anderson, who battles for a spot in the rotation.
- Scott Kingery
This is a critical spring for Kingery after coming off a 2020 season where he batted just 0.159. Kingery is competing for a starting job in center field, which currently is wide open. The competition just got a little smaller, too, as Adam Haseley strained his groin.
So far not so good for Kingery, however. He did hit a home run, which was nice to see, but he’s two-for-fourteen at the plate right now and has struck out seven times. If he wants playing time this season, he will need to turn things around fast.
- Ivan Nova
The veteran righty got the start in the first game of the spring—and it went badly. He gave up five runs and only got one out. If Nova, who is a non-roster invitee, wants to make the Major League roster, he’ll have to prove his first outing was a fluke. He’s on the right track to do so; since his first outing, he has pitched four scoreless innings. Nova still has a lot of work to do to make the Opening Day roster.
- Spencer Howard
Howard is one of spring training’s greatest questions. Will he be in starting rotation, or will he come out of the bullpen? There’s no question Howard is aiming for a spot in the rotation, and he’s off to a good start. He pitched a perfect inning with two strikeouts, and his velocity was up at 96 mph in his spring debut. Keep an eye out on the Phillies top prospect, who looks to make an impact this year.
- Alec Bohm
The Phillies phenomenon, Alec Bohm, came into this spring with high expectations after putting on muscle this offseason. Players and coaches have been impressed with how good he looked in Clearwater, and when the games started, he kept on impressing. Bohm hit a three-run home run to center field against the Yankees and has been hitting the ball hard. The biggest question surrounding Bohm is if he can be a reliable defender. He has looked solid with the glove this spring, which will hopefully carry into the regular season. Expect big things from Bohm this season.
- Travis Jankowski
Coming into the spring, Matt Joyce was the clear favorite to come off the bench and add depth in the outfield. Joyce has played well, but so has Jankowski, who has made it a competition between him and Joyce. Jankowski has an on-base percentage of 0.417 and is batting 0.364, including a triple, in 12 plate appearances this spring. Between Joyce and Jankowski, it’ll be interesting to see which lefty slugger will be on the Opening Day roster.
- Rhys Hoskins
Hoskins had Tommy John surgery at the end of last season, but he should be good to go for opening day. He has been participating in games and seems to be on track with his recovery. Hoskins is a critical part to the Phillies offense, so hopefully he’ll be completely ready by opening day.
- Odubel Herrera
Herrera still has a mountain to climb if he is to play in Citizens Bank Park again after his domestic violence incident. He’s off to a good start, however, and is playing a well rounded game. He has hit a home run, collected four hits in twelve at-bats, mixed in a stolen base and played stellar defense with a diving catch and an outfield assist. The chance that Herrera would make the opening day roster was slim to none coming into the spring, but now it shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone.
- Mickey Moniak
Moniak is seizing the opportunity he has this spring. He is battling for a roster spot and has opened eyes with his efforts. Against the Yankees, he hit two home runs and has a double and triple this spring as well. In nine at-bats, he has five hits and is slugging 1.556. Moniak has put his name into the opening day roster discussions and, possibly, the center field competition as well.