The Phillies resume play Monday night against Gerrit Cole and the New York Yankees after an eight day layoff that seemed longer than the 133 days between Spring Training being shutdown in March and Opening Day in July. But where are the team's top two prospects now that teams can bring up players without losing a year of service time?
They're coming... soon(ish).
Manager Joe Girardi has tabbed RHP Jake Arrieta to make his season debut Monday night against Cole, while RHP Aaron Nola will pitch Tuesday night against former Phillies LHP J.A. Happ. Beyond that, the Phillies have yet to announce their rotation, but it stands to reason that RHP Zack Wheeler and fellow righty Zach Eflin will finish out the series against the Yankees with RHP Vince Velasquez toeing the slab Friday night against the Atlanta Braves in Philadelphia. After that, however, is largely unknown.
This is where top pitching prospect Spencer Howard could make his major-league debut, especially is Velasquez fails to impress against a very tough Braves lineup. The right-handed 24-year-old pitcher is, of course, the team's top option if an injury occurs in the rotation, but fans (and the front office) believe he is ready to play a major role even if everyone stays healthy. A home start against a tough division rival could very well be the best way to debut the power arm of Howard, even if just for 3-4 innings.
As for the team's other top prospect, IF Alec Bohm, he may be waiting at Lehigh Valley a bit longer. Again, Bohm is the top option from the 60-man player pool to make an impact if there is an injury on the major-league roster, but the Phillies do possess a lot of infield depth that may make it harder for Bohm to find regular at-bats.
He could play a role as the DH when Jay Bruce or Babe Ruth Phil Gosselin are not in the lineup, but Bohm needs time in the field to develop at the big-league level. It would not be surprising to see some time in left field if Andrew McCutchen's knee injury is not quite fully healed, although Bohm's playing time in the outfield is extremely limited.
Bohm could also force Scott Kingery to a full-time role in center field if he comes up as a third baseman (his natural position), shifting current 3B Jean Segura to second base, where he has a career 1,172 innings.
While both Bohm and Howard are on the 60-man player pool, neither are on the current 40-man roster, so personnel moves will have to be made.
In any scenario, the two young stars are expected to be contributors on the 2020 Phillies; the only question that remains is when the calls will come.
UPDATE: Todd Zolecki has tweeted out the following news confirming the Phillies rotation this week, as well as an update on Spencer Howard.
If a hurricane doesn't rain out Tuesday's game, the #Phillies rotation sets up like this:— Todd Zolecki (@ToddZolecki) August 3, 2020
Tuesday - Nola
Wednesday - Wheeler
Thursday - Eflin
Friday - Velasquez
When will Spencer Howard get the call? Joe Girardi said discussions have been centered on his pitching. Howard pitched Friday in Allentown and threw the ball "pretty well, which is obviously encouraging. As far as a date of calling him up, we have not come to a conclusion."— Todd Zolecki (@ToddZolecki) August 3, 2020