Future Phillies Report: Potential September Call-ups

With minor-league seasons wrapping up and big-league rosters expanding from 25 to 40, this week's Future Phillies Report will focus on which players we likely will and won't see debut in the majors this month.

The Phillies will call up three players on Friday, according to CSN's Jim Salisbury, but don't expect those three names to be all that intriguing. Here's why:

SS J.P. Crawford (AAA)
It looked for a while like Crawford would get a look in September. But it seems more likely now that his first promotion to the majors will take place in 2017. The reasoning is three-fold.

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First off, Crawford is part of Triple A Lehigh Valley's core and every indication has been that the Phillies will keep those top prospects together during their teams' championship runs. If the IronPigs or Reading Fightin Phils make it to their leagues' championships, the season wouldn't end until around Sept. 15-17. 

Second, Crawford hasn't exactly kicked down the door to the majors. He's hit .181 over his last 85 plate appearances, and he has 10 errors in his last 43 games. 

Third, and perhaps most importantly, it just doesn't make a ton of sense from a roster and service time standpoint. The Phillies have numerous players — Nick Williams, Dylan Cozens, Andrew Knapp, Mark Appel — they must add to the 40-man roster this winter to protect from being taken away from them in the Rule 5 draft. Crawford has another year before he'd be exposed, so using up a precious 40-man spot before it's absolutely necessary could hamper the Phils' flexibility.

And regarding service time, if the Phillies call up Crawford in September and then have him break camp with the big-league team next April, he could possibly become a free agent a year earlier than expected. 

This is an organization that currently values the long-term over anything else, so don't be surprised if Crawford's debut is delayed.

OF Nick Williams (AAA)
Williams' chances of being called up in September are "iffy," according to Salisbury. That's not all too surprising given how poorly he's handled the strike zone this summer.

Williams is down to .263 with a .292 on-base percentage. He's hit .165 over his last 26 games. He has one walk and 47 strikeouts in his last 41 games. That's not going to impress a front office that values plate selection.

Still, we shouldn't lose all hope for Williams. He turns 23 next week. No, he's never walked a lot, but he's going to get a whole lot of constructive criticism this winter from the Phillies and will hopefully understand that he needs to alter his approach a bit to be successful. It's so difficult to learn plate discipline once you get to the majors and face the world's best pitchers. Ideally, the Phils would like to see some more selectivity from him in spring training and perhaps next April in Triple A before giving him his shot.

And since I'm seeing a lot of this lately from Phillies fans, I feel like it's important to note that Williams is not Domonic Brown 2.0. They're such different players. Brown was a raw, toolsy outfielder with a long, loopy swing who had poor instincts in the field and average speed. Williams is also raw and toolsy, but unlike Brown he has impressive bat speed. Unlike Brown, he's an above-average baserunner and a decent defender. Williams has trouble with lefties and with breaking balls, but he has time to develop.

C Jorge Alfaro (AA)
Alfaro had a one-day stint with the Phillies last weekend based entirely on circumstance. Aside from Cameron Rupp and A.J. Ellis, he's the only catcher on the Phillies' 40-man roster. When Carlos Ruiz was traded and Ellis hadn't yet arrived, the Phils needed a backup catcher for a game and promoted Alfaro. 

He'll almost certainly be up again once Reading finishes its season. And even though Rupp has had a productive offensive season, it would behoove the Phillies to give Alfaro some starts over the season's final two or three weeks. Let him catch a veteran like Jeremy Hellickson. Let him show off his throwing arm. Let him face big-league pitchers and see if he can show off that solid, line drive stroke.

It's unclear what the plan is for Alfaro in 2017. Could he break camp with the Phils? If he hits next spring, why not? He's already on the 40, and he's pretty clearly the catcher of the future. He impressed in big-league camp this past March. 

Yes, Rupp has earned his right to stay in the Phillies' lineup in 2017, but the Phils could create some flexibility if they have Rupp play some first base this spring. It would open up the option of playing both Alfaro and Rupp at the same time if Tommy Joseph is slumping, and it would allow the Phillies to have Alfaro on the big-league roster without having him sit most of the week.

That's just one man's opinion. The Phils could also have Alfaro open next season at Triple A, but he's a better player than Andrew Knapp. Might make more sense to get Alfaro up here for good next April and keep Knapp at Triple A until/unless he warrants a call-up.

OF Dylan Cozens (AA)
Cozens' two-run home run Wednesday night was his 38th of the season, tying Darin Ruf for the Reading record. His numbers at hitter-friendly FirstEnergy Stadium have been absurd all year: .291/.372/.744 with 29 homers and 83 RBIs. On the road, he's hit 20 fewer homers and his OPS is 347 points lower.

Wednesday's homer aside, Cozens has been mired in a slump. He's 6 for 48 (.125) over his last 12 games with two extra-base hits, three walks and 22 strikeouts. Cozens has struck out 174 times this season and could reach 190 if Reading makes it far in the playoffs. 

If you're striking out that much at Double A, it doesn't bode well as you climb the ladder to the majors. And what happens when Cozens doesn't have the benefit of playing in Reading? If the real version of him is somewhere in between his home and road numbers ... is that enough to make up for 200 K's?

That's a question the Phillies will find the answer to next season when Cozens makes the jump to Triple A.

1B Rhys Hoskins (AA)
Since June 3, Hoskins has hit .294 with a .405 on-base percentage, 28 homers and 80 RBIs in 81 games. Again, the power is aided by Reading's park. But the improving plate selection is all Hoskins.

He has 50 walks and 70 strikeouts in his last 81 games. In August, Hoskins walked 25 times and struck out 24 times. That's mighty impressive from a slugging first baseman, and given the value the Phillies place on controlling the strike zone, it bodes well for Hoskins' future.

Overall this season, Hoskins has hit .275/.370/.563 with 37 homers and 113 RBIs. His home-road splits are not nearly as pronounced as Cozens' — Hoskins has 35 extra-base hits at home and 28 on the road.

CF Roman Quinn (AA)
Quinn suffered a concussion last weekend but is expected to return next week, according to Salisbury. That's a sigh of relief for the Phillies, who have watched Quinn lose so much development time to injury the last few years.

Quinn was on a roll before the concussion, going 12 for 35 (.343) over his last nine games with two doubles, a triple, three homers and two steals. 

He'll likely be up with the Phillies when Reading's season ends. Why not? He's already on the 40-man roster, and even if the Phils can't give him regular playing time, he would serve a need as a pinch-runner and defensive replacement. The service time considerations wouldn't be the same as with Crawford because it's unlikely Quinn will battle for a big-league job next spring before first tasting Triple A.

RHP Alec Asher
Asher returned from his 80-game PED suspension to make three appearances for the Gulf Coast League Phillies at the end of August. He's still building back his arm strength, pitching one inning, then two, then three.

Asher is another player to expect up in September. The Phillies could give him a few starts to see if the two-seam fastball he developed after last season has made him a more effective pitcher.

RHP Nick Pivetta (AAA)
Pivetta struggled with control his last time out, walking four and putting 11 men on base in a short outing. But the recent uptick in his fastball velocity has been promising. If he can pitch at 93 or 94 mph regularly, his ceiling would be higher.

Pivetta has missed a lot of bats in four starts at Triple A, striking out 25 in 19⅔ innings. His swinging strike rate in those games is 11 percent, up from nine percent in 22 starts with Reading.

OF Mickey Moniak (GCL)
Moniak's first half-season as a professional is about to come to an end. In 194 plate appearances in Rookie ball, he's hit .284/.340/.409 with 11 doubles, four triples, a homer and 28 RBIs. Not bad for a kid who turned 18 in mid-May and was facing high school pitchers a few months ago.

LF Cornelius Randolph (A)
August was the best month of Randolph's two-year pro career. The 2015 first-round pick hit .306 with a .363 OBP in 124 plate appearances with Lakewood. 

Randolph missed all of May and most of June with a shoulder/upper back injury. He's hit .275 with a .350 OBP in 59 games with Lakewood. He's going to need to show more power next season, as he has just three homers and 32 extra-base hits in 487 pro plate appearances at the minors' lowest levels.

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