Five games into the Phillies’ exhibition schedule, the competition – on the mound and in center field – is ramping up.
Matt Moore and Vince Velasquez made positive first impressions Thursday in their bids for spots in the starting rotation, while center-field hopefuls Scott Kingery, Odúbel Herrera and Mickey Moniak homered in a 15-0 rout of the New York Yankees at BayCare Ballpark in Clearwater, Fla.
Moore, a lefty who is returning to the majors after pitching in Japan last year, allowed one hit and one walk and struck out two batters in two innings. Velasquez followed Moore and fanned three of the six batters that he faced in two clean innings.
The Phillies will choose from among Moore, Velasquez, Chase Anderson and Spencer Howard for the final two spots in the rotation.
Center field, once regarded as primarily a three-way competition, is now shaping up as a five-way fight, with Herrera and Moniak playing their way into the conversation with Kingery, Roman Quinn, and Adam Haseley.
Herrera hit a titanic home run against Yankees starter Deivi Garcia in the second inning. He also dug out a ball in the right-field corner and made an accurate throw to cutoff man Nick Maton to nail a runner at home plate.
Before the game, Herrera spoke to the full squad to address his 2019 arrest on domestic violence charges and subsequent suspension by Major League Baseball. Unlike the other center-field candidates, he isn’t on the 40-man roster, which makes his odds longer to win a job on opening day.
Moniak, who has gotten praise from manager Joe Girardi for his plate approach throughout camp, came off the bench and went deep twice, making him 3-for-6 in exhibition games.
“I’ve said all along, he’s interesting,” manager Joe Girardi said. “He’s real interesting. He’s one of those guys that’s going to get dirty all the time. He’s going to fight and scratch and claw. I think he’s interesting in this mix.”
Rhys Hoskins went 1-for-3 with an RBI single in his first exhibition game since undergoing surgery on his left elbow 153 days ago.
Serving as the designated hitter, Hoskins hit an opposite-field line drive against Yankees reliever Albert Abreu in the fourth inning. He also just missed a home run in the third, flying out to deep center field.
Hoskins remains on track to be the opening-day first baseman.
It’s difficult to imagine Alec Bohm being even more impressive at the plate than he was as a rookie last year. But the Phillies believe the 24-year-old will hit for more power as he gains experience.
Bohm’s potential was on display in a nine-run fourth inning when he crushed a three-run homer to center field against Abreu.
At the risk of being nitpicky, Haseley (0-for-2 with a walk) was the only starter without a hit.
Bryce Harper will make his spring debut Friday when the Phillies host the Pittsburgh Pirates at 1:05 p.m. Anderson is expected to make his first start after signing a one-year, $4 million contract last month. Howard is also scheduled to pitch.
NBC Sports Philadelphia+ and MLB Network will televise the game.