When B.J. Upton chose to sign with the Atlanta Braves, at first it seemed like a double-edged sword for the Philadelphia Phillies. Not only did it signify that they had missed out on getting their top free agent target but to make matters worse, that target chose to sign with a divisional rival and the one who is favored to take the NL East crown.
As a next step, the Phillies chose to sign Ben Revere, a young, quick and talented center fielder. While the Revere signing has its benefits including the fact that he is young, can steal bases and is under team control for the foreseeable future, the Braves, at least at the onset, looked to have gotten the better of the deal.
Then to make matters worse, the Braves traded for B.J.’s younger brother, Justin Upton, an All-Star and home run-hitting left fielder formerly of the Arizona Diamondbacks. With this, the Braves assembled an outfield of power hitting All-Stars featuring the Upton brothers and the equally talented Jason Heyward.
For the Phillies, none of this was good news, as their outfield was just full of question marks in Spring Training.
Other than Revere, who was guaranteed the starting center field spot, the Phillies entered camp with five guys competing for two starting and one bench spot.
Of those in camp, Laynce Nix, Domonic Brown, and John Mayberry had significant major league experience, but neither of the three had really proved themselves worthy of being an everyday starting outfielder. Darin Ruf was the unknown quantity and Delmon Young, who will likely have a spot when he returns, was absent from camp with an injury.
Needless to say, the Braves figured to have a much better and much more talented group of outfielders.
But then the spring games started and Brown emerged as a potential breakout star. Ender Inciarte, a Rule Five draft pick, also joined the conversation as a darkhorse to earn a spot.
When the spring games ended and the team traveled back to Philadelphia for their annual On Deck Series in Citizens Bank Park, their outfield consisted of Brown, who was all but named the starting right fielder, Nix and Mayberry, who figure to platoon in left, Revere, the center fielder, and Inciarte, who will come off the bench.
While this outfield isn’t exactly the most threatening, it is one that could cause some trouble on the base paths as Revere, Inciarte and Brown are all capable of stealing bases.
Matched against the Uptons and Heyward, the initial reaction is to see the Phillies’ outfield as underwhelming. After all, as mentioned, this outfield is capable of incredible power as each guy is capable of a 25-home run season.
What the Phillies outfield lacks in power however, they have the ability to make up for in finesse. As mentioned, they have the ability for great speed and Brown, as he showed with seven spring home runs, has the ability to hit for power.
Ultimately, it will come down to what each can do on the field and with the added X-factor that the Phillies’ outfield has
something a lot to prove, they will outperform the Braves’ squad come Opening Day.