Phillies’ Make-or-Break Candidates

Franco Rounds Third During His Inside-the-Park Homer. Photo by Kim Klement – USA TODAY Sports.

Before every Opening Day, players realize either their dream will continue, or they will reach their ceiling during the season with the Philadelphia Phillies: pipeline or parent club.

Self-Appraisal Threshold:  

Sometimes, reality has the nasty habit of interrupting years of hopes, dreams, prayers and plans and replacing them with disappointment.

Among the obvious situations, the Phillies have Tommy Joseph and outfielder Nick Williams. Joseph will face more same-sided pitchers and have first baseman Rhys Hoskins one level away, while Williams in Triple-A this summer must come close to his 2015 Double-A average of .303 with a .354 OBP.

IN OTHER WORDS:    

“Hardships make or break people.” – Margaret Mitchell

With a clear-cut goal but less apparent limitations, Maikel Franco must make a big improvement with disciplined plate appearances and by trusting his teammates to contribute offensively. However, this major uptick in production would be to hit .280 with 30 homers and 100 RBI up from a .255 mark with 25 home runs and 88 RBI. But if five more long balls, 12 additional RBI and a .025 average increase is not a huge achievement, what would Franco’s numbers look like? Maybe, 35 homers and 115 RBI.

Double D, a poster from another site, asked which players are also at the proverbial crossroads of success and failure. Well, Odubel Herrera is dealing with the motivation of playing with the security of a long-term contract. Will he be more or less productive with lowered stress?

Meanwhile, Double D, Hector Neris will eventually be the closer and listen to all the encouragement and advice he will get from Franco. Keep in mind, the pressure of the eighth inning was visible on the reliever’s face until he got comfortable with the role. And Franco showed his approval for each positive outing by tapping his glove on the setup man’s head. Remember, Neris was especially thankful to God after closing out 2016’s final game. That stated, the tension will mount as the save count increases. Where are the Rolaids?

Ending a Phillies’ Losing Streak, Neris Saved Game 162. Photo by Bill Streicher – USA TODAY Sports.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT:  

“Our mistakes don’t make or break us. If we are lucky, they simply reveal who we really are, what we’re made of. Challenges will come, but if you treat them simply as tests of who you are, you’ll come out of it not bitter and victimized, but smarter and stronger.” – Donn Moomaw

With the Triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs, right-hander Jake Thompson will remind himself not to change his approach after his next promotion to the Philadelphia Phillies. He’ll remember telling his pitching teammates that he walked too many batters because he gave them too much respect instead of the method he used against Triple-A talent. Ergo, inconsistency. So, when he dominates again with Lehigh Valley, he’ll remember to handle his next call-up differently and make the big leaguers earn their way on base.

When you think about the campaign and a half Adam Morgan lost due to injuries, you can understand that his limited opportunities in the major leagues are making success even more difficult. And righty Mark Appel could have a similar fate after struggling with a number-one label for two campaigns in the Houston Astros’ system and injuries last summer. But even if a player has excellent years like outfielder Roman Quinn, the front office hesitates to count on them until they stay healthy from April to season’s end. And, Double D, general manager Matt Klentak has only one question regarding an injury to Quinn or his advancement to the red pinstripes. Which will be first?

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