If the Phillies are going to continue to be as bad as they are, why not do it with prospects instead of veterans
On Friday, July 17 the Philadelphia Phillies announced that they would be calling up the seventh overall pick in the 2014 draft, right hander Aaron Nola.
Nola, out of Louisiana State University, has flown through the Phillies farm system since being drafted last year. So far this year, he has sported a 2.39 ERA and a 5.11 K/BB in 18 starts between AA Reading and AAA Lehigh Valley. He was ranked the second best prospect in the Phillies system and number 28 overall by MLB.com.
With a solid three pitch arsenal that includes a fastball he can command in the low 90’s, a solid change-up, and a quality slider, Nola appears to be ready to take the next step and become a solid rotation piece in an extremely underwhelming Phillies rotation.
“I’m as anxious to see him as everybody else is,” interim manager Pete Mackanin said before Friday’s game against Miami in an interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer. “We’re all just looking forward to seeing how he competes out here. It’s going to be fun watching him. I hope.”
Nola represents a glimmer of hope for the future that distraught Phillies fans can look to. He has dominated at every level he has been at since college. Baseball America says, “Nola is like investing in Treasury bills. He’s a very safe starting pitching prospect who is big league ready.”
What Baseball America means by this quote is that although Nola is a lock to be a quality major league arm, don’t expect him to become a bona-fide ace. Even if he can’t develop into a front-line starter, any pitching help would be welcome for the Phillies.
Nola is one of two rookies the Phillies are handing significant playing time to, the other being Maikel Franco. But with the lack of talent that the current roster possess, and the impending trade deadline, why not hand the keys over to the rest of the prospects in their system and see what they can do?
With many of the Phillies pieces like Cole Hamels, Aaron Harang, Jonathan Papelbon, and others expected to be on the move, now is the time to throw prospects at the big league level and see which ones stick.
Just look at the kind of excitement rookie Maikel Franco has brought to the club. He has a nice slash line of .284/.338/.491 and would be a good rookie of the year candidate if not for Joc Pederson and Kris Bryant.
Hell even guys like 25 year-old Adam Morgan, who Baseball America ranked fifth in the Phillies system after the 2012 season, has a 3.91 ERA through four starts. It is better to give guys like him these opportunities than to give them to washed up pitchers of yesteryear like Kevin Correia and Jerome Williams (both are on the DL).
Even if they end up failing in their call-ups now, the experience gained by those prospects is invaluable and at a time where the team is going to lose either way, why not do it with the young guns instead of stars whose light faded long, long ago.
There is absolutely no reason why Chad Billingsley should even have a spot on a major league roster let alone be in the starting rotation. Yes, once upon a time he was a solid hurler for the Los Angeles Dodgers, but that was then and this is now. Injuries have ravaged him. Those innings would be better off given to some of the Phillies top prospects like Jesse Biddle, Zach Eflin and Tom Windle.
This would be a fantastic move for the Phillies, as it would allow them to evaluate the talent they have in the minors, while giving their young prospects major league experience where the cost of failure is extremely low considering how badly the club is already failing.
The Phillies have begun this process by calling Nola and the up lesser known Severino Gonzalez to eat some innings and handing the second base job to Cesar Hernandez in place of the injured Chase Utley.
But why stop there? Let J.P. Crawford, cousin of Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Carl Crawford, take the reigns at short. Freddy Galvis has put up decent numbers so far this year, but Crawford is the future and an extremely exciting player who could give a little bit of life to a completely dead ball club.
Ryan Howard is on pace to put up yet another negative WAR season. It is inexplicable that the Phillies front office has continued to let him man first base. The club would be much better served benching Howard, moving Franco to first, shift Galvis to third, and let Crawford make his debut at shortstop.
Jonathan Papelbon has clearly stated that he wants out. The Phillies should trade and even if they can’t, why not let flamethrower Ken Giles handle some more of the high leverage situations since he appears to be the closer of the future for the team.
The Phillies farm system is comparatively weak to most other club’s systems, but right now the Phillies should be thinking more quantity over quality. They should call up as many prospects as they can and see who can hold their own at the major league level, because it is obvious that the current squad can’t.
Edited by Zoe Forster.