As his organization embarks on a year in which it hopes to see continued growth, Phillies GM Matt Klentak discussed the state of the club on MLB Network on Sirius XM (Twitter link). Klentak says he sees “a lot of growth,” with many young players joining major league camp for the first time. The club’s winter strategy was to “do everything we can to supplement this group” of young talent, he says, while being careful “not to stunt the development of our young players.” As for hyped shortstop prospect J.P. Crawford, Klentak says that having two established middle infielders in Freddy Galvis and Cesar Hernandez allows the team to avoid rushing him to the bigs after an aggressive promotional timeline through the minors.
Here are a few more notes out of the National League:
- Diamondbacks righty Zack Greinke has continued to exhibit slower-than-usual fastball velocity this spring, as Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports. The veteran didn’t crack 90 mph in his second spring outing; while he noted “it’s still early,” Greinke did acknowledge “it’s not ideal, either.” Skipper Torey Lovullo said that he’s not concerned at this point, but a rival scout does tell Piecoro that he observed a downturn in Greinke’s offerings. At this point, it’s just something to watch, but as Piecoro notes, there are some additional reasons concern, including Greinke’s late-2016 shoulder issues and his delayed start to spring (which the team says wasn’t due to health).
- Cardinals first baseman Matt Carpenter is playing, but only bunting in game action as he works through lower back pain. He’s about ten days from being ready to hit in a game, per Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (via Twitter). While that doesn’t leave a ton of time for Carpenter to ramp up for Opening Day, it seems he’ll be able to do so barring a setback.
- The Nationals played a reduced role on the international market for quite some time, but as Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post writes, the club was able to find value in older Dominican players. As ever, age is relative; the Nats were targeting players who had fallen through the cracks of the traditional July 2 market and remained unsigned at 17 or 18 years of age. Outfielder Rafael Bautista was late to the game, but showed enough to command a $35K bonus and has shown enough to earn a 40-man spot, as has first baseman Jose Marmolejos. Catcher Pedro Severino and infielder Wilmer Difo were some of the others who signed for little but have already reached the bigs as the Nats targeted “pitchers and middle-of-the-field players with tools,” as Castillo writes. It’s an interesting look at the organization’s strategy, which has certainly evolved over recent years.