Today, we finish up in the National League East division with the Phillies.
Scott Kingery enjoyed the fantasy breakout hoped for from him back in 2018, so it came, but a year later than his debut. Unfortunately, his poor plate discipline makes him a risky bet to repeat. Every projection system except one is forecasting a sub-.300 OBP, which means he needs to supply a ton of power to be worth much offensively. With his ability to play multiple positions, an extended slump could push him into a utility role.
In normal season circumstances, Alec Bohm would be the clear potential replacement at third base, pushing Kingery into a battle with Jean Segura for second place playing time. Bohm is the team’s second best prospect with a 2020 ETA, with the rare skill set of excellent contact skills and better than average strikeout rates…all with 60 grade raw power. The problem is that Bohm has only made it to Double-A and assuming there’s no minor league season, I can’t imagine the team will jump him straight to the Majors. So Kingery’s playing time actually appears pretty secure, as he only has older veterans in Neil Walker and Josh Harrison to fend off.
With Scott Kingery back in the infield, the Phillies are expected to give Adam Haseley a shot to be the regular center fielder. Haseley is a prospect himself, ranking fifth on the team’s 2019 list and recorded nearly a half season of plate appearances last year. His plate discipline and power fell from his minor league rates and he became an extreme ground ball hitter. Surely his minor league record suggests better, but with projections mostly forecasting a lower wOBA than his 2019 mark, he’s at risk of playing himself out of a starting job.
Roman Quinn shouldn’t actually be expected to outhit Haseley, but over a small sample, strange things often happen. Quinn needs to be monitored simply because of his speed. Over parts of several seasons, he has swiped 23 bases with the Phillies, putting him on a 41 steal pace over 600 plate appearances.
Remember Nick Williams? He used to be part of the future outfield in Philly, but he found himself at Triple-A last year and seems to be out of the team’s plans for now. His plate discipline still needs work, but he’s shown power and BABIP skills in the minors. Don’t forget he has hit 31 homers over 903 MLB plate appearances. He might not be able to play a decent center field, but he should be able to hit and the team could figure out how to rotate his outfielders to get the best defense they can, while not sacrificing offense.
Every single season, Vince Velasquez has underperformed his SIERA mark, sometimes by a significant margin. He seemingly owns a solid skill set with a mid-20% strikeout rate and acceptable control, with a high fly ball rate that should suppress his BABIP. Unfortunately, he doesn’t induce pop-ups like you would accept from a fly baller, allows too many line drives, and has posted a BABIP of at least .303 every season, which is above the league average. Is 522.2 innings really enough to definitively state he’s inherently a SIERA underperformer? I don’t know, but he hasn’t posted an ERA below 4.85 since 2016 and is often injured, so he’s clearly at risk of losing his job.
A bump in fastball velocity in 2018 made Zach Eflin more interesting, but he gave up most of his gains last season. His skills now are quite soft, as he posted a weak 4.86 SIERA, and without another better than average BABIP and LOB%, he’ll need to improve those skills or risk pitching himself out of the rotation.
For potential prospect hitter replacements, I stick to guys who have reached Triple-A. It’s highly unlikely a team is going to jump a hitter from Double-A to the Majors this season. For pitchers, I think there’s a greater possibility that a pitcher could make the leap and not suffer a major decline in expected performance. For that reason, Spencer Howard deserves a mention as a legit replacement option. The team’s top prospect, Howard shot through the minors in 2019, reaching Double-A. He posted strikeout rates above 30% along the way, supported by a SwStk% over 14% at both High-A and Double-A. He has even done that with solid to good walk rates. With a full repertoire to go with a mid-90s fastball, it’ll be fun to find out if he makes the rotation out of camp.
Mike Podhorzer is the 2015 Fantasy Sports Writers Association Baseball Writer of the Year. He produces player projections using his own forecasting system and is the author of the eBook Projecting X 2.0: How to Forecast Baseball Player Performance, which teaches you how to project players yourself. His projections helped him win the inaugural 2013 Tout Wars mixed draft league. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikePodhorzer and contact him via email.