One of the less-discussed but clearly problematic elements of the MLB lockout is a lack of access to team employees and team facilities for players on the 40-man roster. As Scott Lauber of the Philadelphia Inquirer explores, that’s particularly detrimental for still-developing players like Phillies third baseman Alec Bohm, the 2020 NL Rookie of the Year runner-up who floundered through a pronounced sophomore slump in 2021. The Phils hired a new hitting coach (Kevin Long) and infield coach (Bobby Dickerson) in part with the hope that the pair could help Bohm recapture his 2020 form. Bohm was able to meet with Long to discuss his approach at the plate multiple times prior to the lockout, but his access has since been cut off, forcing him to work out on his own.
It’s not a problem that’s unique to the Phillies, of course. Every team has young talent that would benefit from meeting with coaches and player development staff, to say nothing of utilizing team facilities for offseason training. That said, Bohm is an especially important player for the Phils, who selected him with the No. 3 overall pick in 2018 and who could also greatly benefit from the development of a cost-controlled star, given their expensive veterans elsewhere on the roster. The lack of access to the Phils’ spring complex is also particularly unfortunate for Bohm, as Lauber notes that the 25-year-old bought a condo in Clearwater a couple years back in order to have easier access to the team’s Spring Training facility in the offseason.
Some more notes out of Philly…
- Unlike Bohm, catching prospect Logan O’Hoppe is free to communicate with Phillies staffers, as he’s not yet been added to the 40-man roster. The 21-year-old (22 next month) broke out with a big 2021 season, slashing .270/.331/.458 with 17 home runs across three levels before turning in an impressive Arizona Fall League showing. However, there’s no immediate path for O’Hoppe to rise to the big league roster thanks to the presence of J.T. Realmuto (and fellow catching prospect Rafael Marchan, in Triple-A). In a separate column, Lauber takes a look at O’Hoppe’s status in the organization. Phils farm director Preston Mattingly tells Lauber there’s “no question” O’Hoppe will remain a full-time catcher even with Realmuto signed another four years. While some young players may find it discouraging to be “blocked,” O’Hoppe instead tells Lauber that Realmuto’s presence gives him an opportunity to learn and become an even better catcher himself. Lauber chats with multiple scouts about O’Hoppe’s outlook and upside while exploring the possibility that at some point the team could deal from its catching depth, be it O’Hoppe or Marchan. Phils fans, in particular, will want to check out both Lauber columns for scouting insight on Bohm and O’Hoppe, as well as quotes from key organizational voices on the pair’s future.
- As part of a reader mailbag, Matt Gelb of the Athletic suggests the Phillies could be a plausible trade partner with teams like the A’s and Brewers whenever the lockout concludes. Philadelphia has a strong core, led by reigning NL MVP Bryce Harper, Realmuto and a quality group at the front of the rotation. Yet the team has potential weaknesses at both positions on the left side of the infield and in the two outfield spots alongside Harper, in addition to their seemingly annual bullpen question marks. Gelb floats Oakland righty Lou Trivino — who could be on the move as part of a broader A’s sell-off — and Milwaukee center fielder Lorenzo Cain among the players who might pique the Phils’ interest. With Cain set to make $18MM in the final season of a five-year contract, Milwaukee would probably have to include some cash to facilitate a deal. Yet even entering his age-36 campaign, the two-time All-Star would likely be an upgrade over Philadelphia’s lackluster in-house options at the position.