JT Realmuto debut and roster decisions looming with six Grapefruit League games to play
JT Realmuto wasted no time getting back in the mix during his Grapefruit League last night. The Best Catcher in Baseball hit a home run 353 feet over the left field wall in the first inning for his first hit, RBI, and home run in Spring Training. Realmtuo finished the game 1-for-2 from the plate with a walk.
Realmuto has missed the entirety of Spring Training after fracturing his thumb mid-February. Last night he caught six innings and all signs point to Realmuto being behind the plate for Opening Day on April 1st. He will get at-bats in a simulated game on Wednesday and catch again on Thursday. From there, the Phillies have four more games in Florida before heading north. Joe Girardi stated last night that he would like to see JT Realmuto catch in back-to-back games before leaving Clearwater and the Phillies have plenty of time to make that happen.
The Phillies ended up losing the game 9-3 to the Toronto Blue Jays. Zack Wheeler did not have his best stuff last night, pitching 3.1 innings and allowing six hits, seven runs, five earned runs, one walk, and striking out five. With less than a week away from Spring Training, Roman Quinn has continued his second half of Spring Training surge to land the starting centerfield job. The 27-year old switch hitter has quietly batted .323 with an OBP of .382 so far during Grapefruit League play. He has two doubles, a home run, and three stolen bases. Quinn has also struck out 12 times and has only walked three times.
Quinn, as we know, is battling Odubel Herrera and Scott Kingery for the center field job to open up on the 2021 season on April 1st against the Atlanta Braves. Herrera, who got off to an extremely hot start to kick-off Grapefruit League play, is now just hitting .222 with a .243 OBP. Herrera has three home runs, a walk, and seven strikeouts. Kingery, who has been absolutely terrible this Spring, is 4-for-33 (.121) with 14 strikeouts.
Adam Haseley, who hasn’t played since March 4th due to a strained left groin, was back in the lineup last night and is expected to start in centerfield on today. The Phillies originally thought that Haseley would miss four weeks, keeping him out of through Opening Day. Haseley was initially the front runner for the job and batted .286 with one home run, two walks, and two strikeouts before getting hurt. He went 1-for-2 in his return last night.
With seven games until Opening Day, Haseley might not be able to regain the lead for centerfield, but a roster spot is still available. It’s looking likely that Roman Quinn might have done enough in Spring Training to land the centerfield job if he can close out the final six games of Grapefruit League play on a high-note.
As for the bullpen, it’s likely that Hector Rendon will not make the ball club. When looking at Brandon Kintzler and Tony Watson, Kintzler definitely has the edge in terms of performance this Spring. It’s still unclear if the Phillies will carry both bullpen arms to start the regular season on April first. Watson could be the odd-man out if the Phillies decide to keep Vincent Velasquez in the bullpen and carry a younger Jojo Romero instead.
My personal favorite Mickey Moniak was optioned to Triple-A yesterday. Moniak had a fantastic Spring Training, batting .273 (6-for-22) with two doubles, one triple, two home runs, two RBIs and a 1.112 OPS in 18 games. Ranger Suarez was also optioned to Triple-A.