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February 09, 2020

Phillies pitchers and catchers report: Ranking every arm and backstop heading to Clearwater

Pitchers and catchers report to Clearwater Tuesday. We'll have more coverage of spring training later this week, but we thought it would be interesting to take a look (or compile a report, if you will) ranking and categorizing the pitchers — and catchers — who will report to the team this week.

Of 40 arms, likely 12 or 13 will make the big league roster (expanded to 26 players this year) with five starters and seven or eight relievers breaking camp with the Phillies in late March. Just two catchers will make the majors as well.

Here's a loose ranking of the hurlers and backstops who will either be using the next month as an audition, or a tune up for the 2020 season:

The sure things

1. RHP Aaron Nola (26 years old)

Nola is the Phillies' ace, best pitcher, and a former Cy Young runner-up. He's expected to anchor the entire staff in 2020.

2. RHP Zack Wheeler (29)

Wheeler's big contract gives him a lot of pressure to perform, but he'll slot in as the Phillies' No. 2 this season. He's a talented starter but would likely be a No. 3 or 4 on a serious World Series contender.

3. RHP Zach Eflin (25)

Eflin will be in the Phillies starting rotation this year after being the second most reliable rotation-man in 2019.

4. RHP Seranthony Domínguez (25)

Dominguez showed flashes of being a staple in the back of the bullpen before sustaining an elbow injury. He won't be pitching right away this spring but when healthy, he'll leapfrog into the MLB 'pen.

5. RHP Héctor Neris (30)

Neris, sometimes as closer and sometimes in other bullpen roles, has been a solid piece for Philadelphia. Last year he had a stellar 2.93 ERA and 28 saves.

6. LHP Adam Morgan (30)

Morgan, a former starter, was a valuable left-handed specialist last year and should be the team's main left-handed reliever.

7. LHP José Álvarez (30)

Alvaraz was both healthy and reliable last year in a bullpen that was mostly neither.

8. RHP Jake Arrieta (34)

Arrieta has shown flashes of his former Cy Young self, but hasn't stayed healthy during his time in Philly. He will try and show the league he still has it before he likely becomes a free agent after this season.

9. RHP Víctor Arano (25)

Arano is a young arm with promise and should be a middle reliever.

10. RHP Vince Velasquez (27)

Velasquez has an inside track at the fifth starter's job while also sporting the attributes of a bullpen star. He'll be a key piece for the Phils in way way or another.

The up-and-comers

11. RHP Spencer Howard (23)

Howard is the Phillies' top pitching prospect and has a pretty good chance of emerging from the minors to make an impact this year.

12. LHP Ranger Suárez (24)

Suarez is a valuable young and talented left-hander who has a chance at starting the year in the bullpen.

13. RHP Adonis Medina (23)

Medina was once the team's top pitching prospect and is still young enough to show he's good enough to be a top 5 farm system talent.

14. RHP Robert Stock (30)

A journeyman, Stock's stock is rising as his dynamic fastball could earn him a place in the bullpen to start the year.

15. LHP JoJo Romero (23)

The second of a handful of lefty's with skill, Romero will likely begin the year in Triple-A with a chance to fight for a spot in The Show. 

16. LHP Damon Jones (25)

A surprise invite to spring training (and member of the projected top 10 prospects), Jones has big league stuff.

"I found a slider just after spring training that was different than my breaking ball," Jones told PhillyVoice a few weeks ago. "Being able to use it against lefties and backdoor against righties helped a lot."

17. LHP Zach Warren (23)

He's a local, from Vineland, NJ and has a 2.71 ERA over three minor league levels.

Familiar names

18. RHP Nick Pivetta (27)

Pivetta is immensely talented but immensely inconsistent. He will have a chance to earn a role as the fifth starter, or in the bullpen this year, but his stock is not high after a 2019 meltdown that saw him lose his starting role and sent him to the minors.

19. RHP Enyel De Los Santos (24)

De Los Santos has the stuff to start and relieve, and has 30 MLB innings under his belt.

20. RHP Edgar García (23)

Garcia appeared in 37 games last year to reinforce the Phils' depleted bullpen.

21. LHP Cole Irvin (26)

Irvin got a few starts last year, but after strong debut was less effected out of the bullpen.

22. RHP Blake Parker (34)

Parker has seven MLB campaigns behind him and will look to earn a role in the pen as a non-roster invitee.

23. RHP David Robertson (34)

Robertson would be in our top 10, for sure, if healthy, but he is expected to miss 2020 after offseason surgery.

24. RHP Tommy Hunter (33)

Hunter has been a Phillie for two years but has not pitched much due to injury. He will reportedly have a shot at earning a bullpen spot in 2020.

25. LHP Francisco Liriano (36)

Liriano is a seasoned veteran, with 14 years of MLB experience and a 4.15 ERA. He is a non-roster invitee.

26. RHP Bud Norris (35)

Another former starter/reliever with ample experience, Norris will need to play his way onto the roster.

27. RHP Drew Storen (32):

Storen, like Liriano and Norris, is on a minor-league deal and will need to impress and show his former success is still attainable.

28. LHP Austin Davis (27)

Davis got some reps in the majors last year and will be hoping to earn a lefty-relieving role.

29. RHP Trevor Kelley (26)

Kelley has big league experience but an outside chance to make the pen.

30. RHP Anthony Swarzak (34)

He's never been a bullpen anchor but has been a part of 11 different MLB pitching staffs.

Dark horses

31. RHP Ramon Rosso (23)

Russo is an up-and-coming arm with an outside chance at making an MLB impact.

"I am just focused on working hard and we will see what happens," he told PhillyVoice, saying he would be comfortable either relieving or starting.

32. RHP Addison Russ (25)

Russ has a stellar 2.48 ERA over three minor league seasons. He will be a strong Triple-A contributor.

33. RHP Connor Brogdon (25)

Brogdon pitched in Clearwater, Reading and Lehigh Valley and was very impressive in all three stints in 2019.

34. LHP Cristopher Sanchez (23)

Sanchez was a trade acquisition from the Rays, and is a member of the 40-man roster.

35. LHP Garrett Cleavinger (25)

Cleavinger has talent but has not been able to translate college success (1.94 ERA at Oregon through 116 IP) to the pros (4.08 ERA through 220.1 IP).

36. LHP Kyle Dohy (23)

After a 0.82 ERA in Reading, Dohy couldn't adjust to Lehigh Valley (6.19 ERA in 56.2 IP).


37. LHP Tyler Gilbert (26)

In five pro seasons Gilbert has a 3.88 ERA.

38. RHP Deolis Guerra (30)

Guerra is a veteran who has not really pitched in the bigs since 2017.

39. RHP Mauricio Llovera (23)

He has not yet pitched above Double-A.

40. RHP Reggie McClain (27)

McLain didn't make the best of one big league opportunity — last year in Seattle.

The backstops

1. J.T. Realmuto (29)

What can we say about Realmuto that hasn't been well documented? He is one of the best catchers in baseball right now (the best, by our estimation), and will be the highest paid backstop in baseball when he gets a new contract in a year. His defense, big bat and versatility should allow him to start at least 120 games in 2020...

2. Andrew Knapp (28)

...which means they can cheap out on their back up catcher, which will once again be the light-hitting Knapp.

3. Deivy Grullon (24)

Grullon is the Phillies' top minor league catcher and appeared in four games last year after rosters expanded. 

4. Christian Bethancourt (28)

Bethancourt is a veteran with 161 major league starts in five seasons.

5. Henri Lartigue (25)

College success in the SEC (a .307 average in three seasons at Mississippi) hasn't yet led to pro success (a .220 average in four years in the minors).

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