Through two weeks in the season, the National League East looks different than what most people expected at the end of the season. Now the Washington Nationals were expected to contend and being in first at this point is not a big deal. The bigger story for me is that the New York Mets are around .500 and the Philadelphia Phillies are right there with them. The Phillies may not be able to sustain this position all season, but they have a chance to compete for the division in the very near future.
Ken Giles was a young cannon and what many Philly fans would say a bright spot for the team in 2015. So instead of locking him up and building a bullpen around him, they decided to build a new team around his replacements. The Phillies made a trade with the Houston Astros for the hard throwing Giles and decided to rebuild the farm systems pitching this offseason. The Phillies traded Giles for 4 prospects that have a chance to get back to the glory days. Vincent Velasquez is one of the hopes for the glory days.
Velasquez has been everything the Phillies have hoped for and more. Velasquez has started the season 2-1 with an impressive 0.93 ERA. On top of all of this, he has racked up 29 strikeouts. He has the potential to be an anchor for this rotation for years to come. And he wasnt the only young arm they picked up in the Astros trade. Mark Appel was the #1 pick in the 2012 Draft for the Astros, but he seemed to be struggling in the minors. The Phillies are hoping that a change of scenery will bring the best out of this prospect. It will be almost impossible to get back to the days when the Phillies could count on Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, and Cole Hamels to go out every 5th day pitch lights out.
The offense is looking to leave behind the good old days of Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Hunter Pence, Jason Werth, and Ryan Howard leading the offensive charge. The new wave is what most people would call no namers, yet these are the players you are going to watch in the coming seasons in Philadelphia. Maikel Franco had a stellar spring and flashed some power that the team is looking to replace their aging stars. Freddy Galvis is a plus defender at short stop and if he can continue to improve, the problem for him is the Phillies have a stud leading the way down on the farm.
J.P. Crawford (pictured) is ranked by many as the Phillies top overall prospect, and is also MLB.com’s #3 overall prospect. Crawford has a cannon and amazing range at short and combines his clean field play with solid hitting. He is currently hitting .294 and has added 11 walks at AA Reading. He has a great shot to reach the big leagues this year if their is an injury or if any of the middle infield goes down to injury. Nick Williams is another reason to be excited for the future. Williams is a power outfielder that came to the Phillies as part of the Cole Hamels deal and he is fitting right into the farm. A second piece of that Hamels deal was the addition of the #3 catching prospect in MLB, Jorge Alfaro. Alfaro is a big power hitter at a position of soon to be need with Carlos Ruiz’s signed through the rest of the 2016 season. Expect to see Alfaro spend some time behind the dish this season if Ruiz is ever hurt. Alfaro’s offense is there but his game calling and defense will be a work in progress.
The future is bright. I can see this team being able to compete at a high level in a few years. The longer Alfaro can catch the starting staff, the longer he will have a re pore with that staff. The future is bright, but Phillies fans have a be patient and let this new regime go to work.
Featured Image by Matt Slocum/AP