The Phillies have an embarrassment of riches on offense this season.
With so many closely grouped, young talented players fighting for 25 roster spots, there has been impressive play by both household names — like Maikel Franco (who started the spring with four hits in five at bats) —and dark horses Scott Kingery, Pedro Floirmon and Brock Stassi, all of whom have been showing off their bats in Clearwater.
The Phillies have hit 11 homers this spring, the most of any team, through its first five games. During the regular season last year, Philly hit 161 homers, just below one per game.
Playing in Citizens Bank Park, power is an asset the Phillies will need in spades if they hope to return to contention. It looks like the incoming roster might be more power oriented than the futile squads of the previous four seasons. And that’s good for the Phillies.
Franco in particular is once again flashing the potential to be an intimidating middle of the order bat for the Phillies for years to come: the kind of guy whose at bats will be must see TV for fans like Ryan Howard’s were from 2005-2011.
Can Franco be that guy?
“That’s a good sign for what’s to come from him,” PeteMackanin said of Franco and his three homers (one of them inside the park), most in spring training, so far. “I’m looking forward to seeing him continue that approach. I think he’s going to be working towards a good year.”
Franco slammed 25 home runs and 88 RBI in 2016, his first full season in the bigs. His coaches expect even more from him — all he needs is confidence in discipline (to improve upon his .255 average).
“He knows he has power and I think he’s starting to realize how much power he has,” Phillies hitting coach MattStairs also said, via delawareonline.com. “Young players, a year of experience helps them out. They learn their swing and realize, ‘Hey, I don’t have to swing out of my shoes to drive a ball out of the ballpark.'”
Tommy Joseph is another power bat and he hit his first homer of the spring Tuesday in a 7-5 spring training victory over the Orioles. Michael Saunders, recently inked free agent outfielder, hit 24 homers last year and he’ll likely start in a corner outfield spot. Odubel Herrera and rising catcher Jorge Alfaro can also go yard.
And then there are the young guns. Nick Williams, Rhys Hoskins and Dylan Cozens all have an outside chance of making the team and all have shown to have potent power swings.
The gap left by Howard’sdeparture could be a nonstory in 2017 if the potential home runs keep showering South Philly’s left field porch the way they are starting to on the west coast of Florida.