The Phillies opened up the season with a wild one down in Texas. Next up, opening day for the Phillies’ minor league affiliates. With a wild season on the horizon in Philadelphia there could be lots of action, and transactions, within the top affiliates. The worse a team is, and the more injuries that occur, the more player movement one should expect. Simply put, the 2014 Phillies, much like the 2012 and 2013 teams, are not very good and they are injury prone. According to baseball-almanac.com, 8 players made their major league debut with the Phillies in 2012 and 9 players made their major league debut with the Phillies in 2013. I don’t believe that number will be as high in 2014, mostly because many of those same players are currently on the 2014 Iron Pigs roster. However, there should still be lots of movement as many of these players are one poor performance or one injury away from being called up.
Below is a list of players who I believe will be the most interesting to watch in Lehigh Valley and Reading this season.
Lehigh Valley – The Iron Pigs are stacked with a lot of marginal major league talent. Many of the players have had a stint or two in the big leagues and many will make it back for another stint. I believe that there are four players that the fans should pay close attention to this upcoming season.
- Maikel Franco, 3B. Maikel Franco is the consensus number one prospect in the Phillies organization. He only spent a half a season in Reading and there is a possibility that he doesn’t spend much longer in Lehigh Valley. One of the main concerns is that his road seems to be blocked. Expect Franco to play some 1B with the Iron Pigs to make him more versatile.
- Cameron Rupp, C. Cameron Rupp is currently the top catching prospect in the Phillies’ system. With veteran catchers Carlos Ruiz and Wil Nieves on the big league roster there is a significant possibility of injury or abduction. Rupp would be the benefactor of either.
- Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, P. Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez is currently on the 60-day DL and hasn’t been assigned to Leigh Valley just yet; however, it is a pretty good bet that he will be. It’s also a good bet that he will be fun to watch this year. Some are rooting for a train wreck and some want to see the guy the Phillies were willing, at one point, to pay $30 million. No one is sure which we will get, but I’m sure he will be fun to watch one way or another.
- David Buchanan, P. David Buchanan is one of the pitchers competing for the 5th rotation spot. Buchanan pitched the majority of the 2013 season in Reading; however, he made a big splash in Spring Training and remained with the big league club throughout the spring. He was slated to start in the final Spring Training game at CPB until it the game was rained out.
Reading – Reading is all about the Pitching this year, with one exception.
- Severino Gonzalez, P. Severino Gonzalez, the 2013 Paul Owens Award winner, looks to continue to build on his outstanding 2013 season. There is a big jump from Clearwater to Reading; I’m interested to see if he can make the jump with the same results. If he can, he’ll be pitching in Philly shortly.
- Ken Giles, P. Ken Giles was clocked at over 100 mph in Arizona last fall. He is expected to close in Reading this year. If he can get his control together he’ll make the jump to the next level pretty quickly. If not, Ricky Vaughn will be spending the season in Reading and hilarity will ensue.
- Jesse Biddle, P. Jesse Biddle is the organization’s top pitching prospect. He had fairly good numbers, with the exception of his win-loss record, last year in Reading. I don’t expect it to take long until he makes the jump to Lehigh Valley. If you live in Reading go see him now, he won’t last.
- Kelly Dugan, OF. Kelly Dugan is the cream of the crop of a very talented Reading outfield. He has had a lot of setbacks caused by injury up to this point, most recently his AZFL season ended short due to turf-toe. If he can continue his development he could be an everyday outfielder in CBP. Regardless of his play, it’s certain that his father will make a cameo at First Energy Stadium with a movie star or two.