How are the Phillies doing in winter ball?
The winter-ball season is halfway complete. The Phillies have quite a few players who have come and gone in the Dominican Republic, Venezuela and Puerto Rico. Let's check in on a few, in no particular order:
Dylan Cozens: It was an eventful 25-game stint in the Dominican for Cozens, who reportedly had an altercation with a teammate after that teammate criticized Cozens' ability to hit breaking balls. The 22-year-old outfielder's winter-ball test did not go well. Cozens hit just .165/.268/.353 in 85 at-bats with the Aguilas. He struck out in 38 percent of his at-bats. He did hit four home runs, and all four were against lefthanders. That is notable because just five of his 40 homers last season with double-A Reading were against lefties.
Carlos Tocci: No Phillies hitter has had more playing time this winter than Tocci, the 21-year-old, rail-thin centerfielder. He has thrived in Venezuela with a .328/.399/.387 line in 137 at-bats. Of his 45 hits, just seven are for extra bases. The Phillies have left Tocci unprotected from selection in the Rule 5 draft for the second straight winter. A team could snatch him as a fifth outfielder; Tocci's defense is said to be major-league ready. He still must add elusive strength.
Alec Asher: The Phillies sent Asher to the Dominican to recoup innings lost during his PED suspension. He made eight starts before returning home. The 2.14 ERA in 42 innings could be deceiving; Asher did not strike out many (21) although he limited his walks (five). He still projects as an extra arm, perhaps as a long man in the 2017 big-league bullpen.
Tommy Joseph: He appeared in only five games for Escogido before a wrist injury sent him home. Matt Klentak, earlier this month, said Joseph's injury was not serious.
Alberto Tirado: The hard-throwing righthander just added to the 40-man roster is doing Alberto Tirado things in the Dominican with this line:
5 2/3 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 10 BB, 6 K
His (brief) time in major-league camp this spring will be quite the adventure.
Jorge Alfaro: He was named player of the week in Venezuela for last week's action. The catching prospect has a .281/.333/.531 line in 64 at-bats. He homered for the Tiburones in back-to-back games last week. Alfaro struck out 17 times with two walks in his 64 at-bats.
Brock Stassi: So this is interesting. Stassi had about as good of a 32-game run in Venezuela as possible. He batted .297/.448/.541 with an eye-popping 31 walks against 23 strikeouts in 111 at-bats. And, 10 days ago when Stassi departed the team to return to America for his wedding, his Tiburones manager held a meeting. That manager is Ozzie Guillen. He loved Brock Stassi.
Here is what happened, via a Venezuelan news service translated by Phillies communications assistant Diego Ettedgui:
"It is the first time I arranged a meeting to fire a ballplayer," Guillen said about the first baseman who traveled to the United States to get married and it looks like he won't return to the team, even though that door is not totally closed. "He is an important player in this league, not only for what he has done offensively and defensively, but also for the way he plays baseball. Everyone should look at themselves in that mirror. He earned his money in this country."
Stassi will come to big-league camp as a non-roster invitee. He is 27, and he'll have to hit for consistent power because he's a first baseman. But there could be a bench job for Stassi, especially if Major League Baseball expands to a 26-man roster.
You can follow all of the Phillies in winter-ball action here.