Phillies wait as Craw­ford, prospects ma­ture

The Mercury (Pottstown, PA) - - SPORTS -

CLEARWATER, FLA. >> Now that Ryan Howard and Car­los Ruiz are gone, Philadel­phia Phillies fans await top prospects such as short­stop J.P. Craw­ford and pitcher Mark Appel.

They are in big league camp for the sec­ond straight spring train­ing along with catcher Jorge Al­faro and out­field prospects Nick Wil­liams and Ro­man Quinn.

None are ex­pected to break camp with the Phillies next month. Hop­ing for the team’s first win­ning record since 2012, fans are clam­or­ing for Craw­ford and Dy­lan Cozens, who led the mi­nor leagues with 40 home runs last sea­son.

“Trust me, I get that,” gen­eral man­ager Matt Klen­tak said. “Some­times the base­ball sea­son will test my pa­tience, too, as it prob­a­bly will for ev­ery­one in this room, as it will for the man­agers and the play­ers and the fans. I get that. No team is go­ing to go 162-0 and no team is go­ing to go 0-162. How we do in be­tween, we’ll see.

“I very much un­der­stand this is a pas­sion­ate town and a pas­sion­ate fan base that wants to win. So do I. I’m pas­sion­ate about what

we do here. I want to win too. I know our man­ager does and I know our play­ers do. That align­ment, to me, is a good thing. We all rec­og­nize it doesn’t hap­pen overnight. But we’re tak­ing steps to get to where we want to go. All of us with the Phillies are pleased with where we stand on that path right now.”

Top prospects are slated to be­gin the reg­u­lar sea­son at Triple-A Le­high Val­ley. If suc­cess­ful, they quickly could fol­low the path of 25-year-old first base­man Tommy Joseph, who hit .347 with six home runs in his first 27 games at Triple-A last sea­son and was pro­moted in mid-May.

“Vir­tu­ally ev­ery po­si­tion is manned by some­one who we think might have a ma­jor league fu­ture,” Phillies pres­i­dent Andy MacPhail said. “That’s rare. Of­ten you’re sign­ing six-year free agents to fill in. We’re not at that place, for­tu­nately. We think our start­ing pitch­ing — we have a lot of depth through the sys­tem. Not nec­es­sar­ily front-end ro­ta­tion types, but, hon­estly, I would rather take num­bers of solid prospects over the higher val­ued few.”

Los­ing has meant ear­lier draft picks for the Phillies, who also have dealt vet­er­ans for prospects.

“One of the things we’ve worked hard to — and this pre­dates me — we worked hard to ac­quire as many tal­ented young play­ers as we can,” said Klen­tak, who is en­ter­ing his sec­ond sea­son as gen­eral man­ager. “The rea­son we ac­quire as many play­ers as we do is be­cause we know the in­evitable is go­ing to hap­pen. Some­body’s go­ing to get hurt. Some­one’s not go­ing to per­form as well as you thought. But there’s also go­ing to be a player who turns out to be a full grade bet­ter than you thought. NOTES >> Freddy Galvis (mild groin in­jury) in­formed Venezuela that he will not be play­ing in the up­com­ing World Base­ball Clas­sic. Galvis had been slated to start at short­stop for Venezuela in the tour­na­ment . ... RHP Vic­tor Arano, who en­tered camp as a dark­horse for a bullpen job, has el­bow ten­der­ness and has stopped throw­ing. The 22-year-old went 5-2 with a 2.26 ERA, 95 strike­outs and 19 walks in 79 2/3 in­nings for Dou­ble-A Read­ing and Class A Clearwater last year.

MATT ROURKE — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Philadel­phia Phillies’ out­fielder Ro­man Quinn throws dur­ing a spring train­ing base­ball work­out Thurs­day in Clearwater, Fla. Quinn is one of sev­eral prospects with the team for their sec­ond spring train­ing.

MATT ROURKE - THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

The Phillies’ Dy­lan Cozens catches a ball dur­ing a spring train­ing work­out Thurs­day in Clearwater, Fla.

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