|These guys will be in Reading, together. Photo by Rich Wilkins|
The Phillies had been playing close to the vest throughout Spring Training on where they would assign some of their top prospects to start the 2016 season. Some of that was because many of them spent a significant amount of time in big league camp. Some of it was also because they were trying to decide what big league camp players they wanted to stash in AAA. In the case of several prospects though, it seems that the decisions on where they will start 2016 goes beyond anything to do with other players, and is all about their own development.
This was clearly the case in making decisions about prospects like J.P. Crawford and Roman Quinn, both of whom are ticketed to join one of the feature pick-ups of the Hamels trade, catcher Jorge Alfaro in Reading. The talented trio are all players that Phillies fans want to see in Philadelphia sooner than later, but the organization is remaining extremely patient with all three. Perhaps it is about figuring out their future plans for incumbents at the Major League level, but one has to believe that with a prospect as good as Crawford, no one but himself figured into the Phillies thought-process. He and Quinn both played part of last season in Reading, while Alfaro finished the season on the disabled list, after coming over to the Phillies. All three could see in-season promotions to AAA, though Crawford figures to happen the fastest. Last year he got off to a blazing start while repeating Clearwater, and after less than a month, he was promoted to Reading. Expect that he and Quinn in particular could be promoted to Lehigh Valley fairly fast.
If they get there, they will run into a very crowded group that will include top prospects Nick Williams, Andrew Knapp, and Tommy Joseph. Williams and Knapp were not surprises, as both excelled last year in Reading and could fill Major League needs sooner than later if they repeat that success in Allentown. Joseph was somewhat of a surprise, as Brock Stassi appeared set to be the first baseman and J.P. Arencibia also will need a spot, possibly as the DH regularly. Joseph had a very good Spring, including a walk in last night's Future's Game, and may have regained a lot of favor in the organization as a first base option for the future. Still only 24, he may just still have some time to break out.
Final rosters for all of the affiliates are still days away, particularly as the Phillies send major league players down in the next few days and try to make room for all of the players in camp. The Minor League season starts in the middle of next week (Thursday in the AA and AAA levels), and lots of other moves still need to be announced. It is hard to set rotations and bullpens up though until you know who is on waivers, who has passed through, and how many spots you have open at each level. One of the more interesting announcements to come is where they will assign prospect pitchers Jake Thompson, Mark Appel, and Zach Eflin. Based on the patience shown with Crawford and Quinn, any of the three (if not all) could end up in Reading as well. A lot of players who were on the playoff-bound Williamsport, Clearwater, and Reading squads may find that promotions out of camp are going to be difficult to come by, or at least more difficult than in recent years. The Phillies hard decisions certainly won't end after they set their roster on Sunday for the big league club.