The Philadelphia Phillies’ top two minor league prospects are expected to make contributions to the big league club this season.
Infielder Alec Bohm and pitcher Spencer Howard were among the 53 players named by the Phillies on Sunday as eligible to play this season as the team took the first administrative steps to return from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Major league teams had until 4 p.m. Sunday to name their 60-player eligibility pool for this season. The Phillies will hold the first official workout of summer training camp Friday at Citizens Bank Park and at the Ashburn Complex at FDR Park in Philadelphia. The 60-game season is expected to start July 23.
By naming the 53 players Sunday, the Phillies left themselves flexibility with seven open spots. Teams can make changes to their 60-player pool throughout the season.
“The 53 we named is not going to be the only 53 we see all year,” Phillies general manager Matt Klentak said in a Zoom video call with reporters Monday. “We have seven (spots) to work with. As we get toward the end of (summer camp and the start of the season), there could be a second wave of players that join. We wanted to give ourselves some room to breathe.”
Bohm could be a designated hitter for the Phillies. The National League will use the DH this season.
Bohm, 23, hit 21 home runs and batted .305 with three minor league teams last season. He played third base but also is projected as a first baseman. There were questions about his defense, however. The DH takes care of that. The other question about Bohm is experience. He has never played Triple-A baseball.
Howard, 23, struck out 94 and walked just 16 in 71 minor league innings last season. He has never played above Double-A.
The COVID-19 pandemic gave Howard a chance to rest his arm, making him available to pitch meaningful innings this season.
“I think the fact (Howard) is part of this 53-player group should reflect that we view him as a candidate to compete for us in this 60-game season,” Klentak said. “The fact that Bohm is on this roster is also reflective of the hope that he is able to contribute for us this year.”
Also on Sunday, the Phillies announced they had released Lower Cape May Regional High School graduate and outfielder Matt Szczur.
Szczur, 30, signed a minor league contract with the Phillies in the offseason, but a hamstring injury limited him to just one spring training at-bat before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the sport.
Szczur appeared to fall victim to the organization’s glut of outfielders.
The Phillies kept nine outfielders — Jay Bruce, Kyle Garlick, Bryce Harper, Adam Haseley, Mikie Mahtook, Nick Martini, Andrew McCutchen, Roman Quinn and Nick Williams — in their eligibility pool.
Odubel Herrera was not in the pool, but Klentak said he could be included at some point. Police arrested Herrera at Golden Nugget Atlantic City in connection with an alleged domestic violence incident in May 2019. The case against Herrera was dismissed last July after the alleged victim declined to testify against Herrera, who had to finish counselling as a condition of the dismissal.
Herrera, 28, served an 85-game, season-ending suspension last year for violating Major League Baseball’s Joint Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Policy.
Teams are able to keep 60 players in their eligibility pool for the 2020 season. Teams will begin the season with an active roster of 30 players. That number will drop to 28 two weeks into the season. Two weeks later, the roster drops to 26.
Since there is no minor league baseball this season, Phillies not on the active roster will train at Coca Cola Park, the home of the Phillies’ triple-A affiliate, in Allentown, Pennsylvania.
The Phillies made one other roster move Sunday, placing reliever Seranthony Dominguez on the 60-made injured list with a right elbow sprain.
The following are the players in the Phillies’ 60-player pool:
Right-handed pitchers: Víctor Arano, Jake Arrieta, Connor Brogdon, Enyel De Los Santos, Zach Eflin, Édgar García, Deolis Guerra, Spencer Howard, Tommy Hunter, Trevor Kelley, Mauricio Llovera, Reggie McClain, Héctor Neris, Aaron Nola, Bud Norris, Blake Parker, Nick Pivetta, Ramón Rosso, Addison Russ, Connor Seabold, Robert Stock, Vince Velasquez and Zack Wheeler.
Left-handed pitchers: José Alvarez, Garrett Cleavinger, Cole Irvin, Damon Jones, Francisco Liriano, Adam Morgan, JoJo Romero and Ranger Suárez.
Catchers: Deivy Grullón, Andrew Knapp and J.T. Realmuto.
Infielders: Alec Bohm, Logan Forsythe, Phil Gosselin, Didi Gregorius, Josh Harrison, Rhys Hoskins, Scott Kingery, Jean Segura, Ronald Torreyes and Neil Walker.
Outfielders: Jay Bruce, Kyle Garlick, Bryce Harper, Adam Haseley, Mikie Mahtook, Nick Martini, Andrew McCutchen, Roman Quinn and Nick Williams.