Philadelphia Phillies Spring Training: Ranking the Top 8 Early Standouts
Early Standouts in Clearwater
Spring Training has been upon us for almost two weeks now and early on some trends are beginning to develop. Injuries were always going to be a concern with the Philadelphia Phillies this year with the team’s average age the highest in the league and several of their projected starters that have extensive and recent injury histories.
One player they were not counting on getting injured in the early going, however, was the 30-year-old ace Cole Hamels. Reports out of Clearwater as recently as two days ago had Hamels on ahead of schedule with his return, giving fans hope that he may not miss any starts at all. Today brought news that he had suffered a setback and now may miss all of April, a devastating blow to the team who looked to capitalize on an easy April schedule.
Nonetheless, more injuries are sure to mount and the inevitable decline in skills for some of the older players has already begun in recent seasons. For the first time since the mid-aughts, there are probably more eyes on the young prospects and new free agents than on returning players. With only about five games having been played thus far, some players have already shined where expectations were previously low. The following is a brief list of four hitters and four pitchers who have impressed early in Clearwater.
JR Cummings is a Phillies Writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @JRCummings2, add him to your circle on Google+ or connect with him on LinkedIn.
8. Marlon Byrd
The more criticized signing of the off-season is off to a pretty hot start. Marlon Byrd hit safely in 5 of his 13 at bats and already has a home run and 3 RBI and a .615 slugging percentage.
7. Darin Ruf
Darin Ruf, who seemingly has no position or path to a starting role on the team, has received more at-bats than anyone on the team so far this March and has produced. He’s batted .294 and leads the team in both RBI and hits.
6. Jimmy Rollins
Jimmy Rollins has been declining for a few years now, but has seemingly picked it up a notch this Spring Training after re-dedicating himself in the off-season. He has a .500 OBP, is slugging .714, has three walks and even belted a homer.
5. Bobby Abreu
The other criticized off-season signing that brought back the 39-year-old former Phillies’ All-Star was the signing of Bobby Abreu. Abreu is ticketed for a bench role as a pinch hitter. He may not be tearing the tread off the ball (hitting only .167), but he has 20% more walks than the next guy on the list. Pinch hitters are expected to hit to be sure, but their top priority is getting on base. Abreu has been doing that.
4. Sean O'Sullivan
Little-known off-season pickup has proved his mettle in March thus far. Tied for the team lead in innings pitched, Sean O’Sullivan has yet to give up an earned run and leads the team in strikeouts. With Hamels’ chances of pitching in April now ‘remote,’ the team will be looking for a spot starter for the month. O’Sullivan is making his case.
3. Brad Lincoln
The Phils traded away fan favorite Erik Kratz for the reliever and thus far Brad Lincoln has pitched well. He also has yet to give up an earned run in 3.2 innings pitched and has tallied four strikeouts.
2. Jeff Manship
Along with O’Sullivan, Jeff Manship is the other veteran the team brought in that looked as though he was destined for the Iron Pigs starting rotation. After a strong four innings and a Hamels setback, however, Manship’s 5 strikeouts and 2 hits given up, to go along with zero runs, earned runs, homers or walks and batters hitting a mere .167 against his spotless ERA, Manship is making a strong case to fill Hamels’ spot in the rotation until his is healthy.
1. B.J. Rosenberg
BJ Rosenberg was one pitcher from the plethora of similar bullpen arms in the minors last year that began to break out a little and become a reliable reliever for the Phillies. Thus far in Spring Training, he has continued his success in his 4 innings by having opposing hitters hit only .077 off of him and giving up merely one earned run. Rosenberg looks like a strong bet thus far to secure a spot in the bullpen.
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