Throughout the season teams call up prospects to plug holes caused by injuries or poor performance. Considering how the Philadelphia Phillies’ season has gone so far, sooner or later they will call up some prospects. Therefore, the question is not if the Phillies will call up any prospects,but rather when they will. During the team’s five straight division titles, prospects often would not be called up until September when rosters were expanded. However, things are different now, as the Phillies have already called up a few prospects, such as starting pitcher David Buchanan. He will not be the last prospect called up by the team this season as quite a few more could make an impact on this team.
The first and most obvious prospect that could be called up this season is Maikel Franco. Franco can play both first and third base, making him an obvious choice to fill the hole at third base. Third base has been perhaps the weakest position for the Phillies, who have played Cody Asche, Freddy Galvis, and recently Cesar Hernandez at the spot. Both Asche and Galvis are on the disabled list, leaving Hernandez and Reid Brignac as the starters. While Asche had a .258 average, Brignac has the next highest batting average at .167. After a slow start in Lehigh Valley this season, Franco batted .282 in the month of May with 3 homers and 13 RBIs. It is clear that the Phillies do not want to rush Franco to the majors, as he has not been called up to try and plug the hole at third. However, if push comes to shove they may have to do it if they want to get back into contention.
Jess Biddle is a popular name brought up when Phillies prospects are discussed. Biddle had a standout 16 strikeout game last August, breaking the Fightning Phils’ team record of 13 strikeouts in a game. The young pitcher also has a nice story, as he is a Philadelphia native playing for his hometown team’s organization. However, if he hopes to debut for the big league team, he must overcome some obstacles in his way. The first of which is to get healthy, since Biddle only just returned on Saturday from a concussion he suffered when he was struck by an ice pellet during a hail storm on May 22. He must also improve his performance. While this season Biddle is a modest 3-5 with a 3.14 ERA, last season he went 5-14 with a 3.64 ERA. The Phillies are not in desperate need of starting pitching, as players such as Ethan Martin and Jonathan Pettibone have pitched in the majors before. However, quite a few starting pitchers have already been on the DL, such as Martin, Cole Hamels, and Cliff Lee. Therefore, the more organizational depth the Phillies have at pitcher, the better.
The obvious problem on the team this season is the bullpen. Outside of closer Jonathan Papelbon, none of the relievers have been consistent. Therefore, the most likely prospect to make an impact on the Phillies this season is Lehigh Valley closer Ken Giles. On Thursday, Giles allowed more than one earned run, he allowed two, for the first time since being moved to Lehigh Valley. In his first nine games at the triple A level, Giles has struck out seven and walked seven in 11 2/3 innings. Giles will likely see a bit more time in in Lehigh Valley before possibly being called up as he has not been higher than the Double A level for long. Still, it is hard to ignore a 100-m.p.h. fastball when your bullpen is always struggling.
In the end, do not expect the Phillies to make any callups yet, barring more injuries. Franco seems the most likely of the three, but the team’s front office seems to be committed to what it has now. The worse the season gets, the more likely it is that these players could be called up to give the Phillies a better look at how they could fair against high level competition. Do not be surprised to see some new faces this summer.