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Rhys Hoskins’ struggles, potential bullpen contributors and other notes from end-of-year press conference

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The highs and lows of Rhys Hoskins’ 2022 season were brought up during the Phillies’ end-of-year press conference. (Don Otto/PhilliesNation)

Phillies president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski, general manager Sam Fuld and manager Rob Thomson all met with the media on Wednesday for the club’s end-of-year press conference.

A variety of topics were discussed, including Bryce Harper’s health, Nick Castellanos’ struggles and Rhys Hoskins’ up-and-down season.

Here are some takeaways:

In Defense of Rhys Hoskins

It’s hard for a player to hit six home runs in a single postseason and still have fans want to run you out of town.

That’s just the kind of year Rhys Hoskins had. Yes, there’s proof that Hoskins did improve as a defender, but he’s still prone to making costly errors at the wrong time. He went 3-for-25 with 10 strikeouts in the World Series. He’s had at least one head scratching defensive play in each playoff round starting in the Division Series.

Dombrowski confirmed that the team will be tendering him a contract in his final year of arbitration. That presumably means he’ll be back for a seventh season with the Phillies.

“He’s our leading candidate to be our Opening Day first baseman,” Dombrowski said.

In a funny exchange with WIP’s Howard Eskin, Dombrowski alluded to the harsh direct fan feedback he received on Hoskins and defended the first baseman’s work ethic and character behind the scenes.

“I’m only a little surprised because when I talk about the city of Philadelphia, in many ways, a blue collar type in nature and work ethic — Rhys Hoskins works his tail off,” Dombrowski said. “He works as hard as anybody possibly can. And he does the best to try to make himself the best player possible. But he’s not a Gold Glove first baseman, for example. I mean, it’s just he’s made himself better. He also is a somewhat streaky hitter. So when it’s going good, it’s great. And when it’s not going good, it’s not so good.

“But the one thing about him is consistency. Showing up in the clubhouse, working hard, you couldn’t find a better person than this. So to me, it’s one of those things where you have to understand your players. There’s a lot of good things about him, but he’s not the perfect player.”

Waves of pitching

The Phillies have two open spots in the 2023 rotation. One will presumably be filled by an outside addition and one will be reserved for an internal candidate, whether that be Bailey Falter, Cristopher Sánchez or one of Andrew Painter, Mick Abel or Griff McGarry, the top three prospects in the Phillies farm system.

“I can’t say there’s an anticipation that they’re going to make our rotation and start the season,” Dombrowski said when asked about the trio of top pitching prospects. “Some are further along than others. But they’ll be in camp and once you’re in camp, anything can happen.”

The Phillies have to feel good about their young pitching depth, which is not limited to just Painter, Abel and McGarry.

Great teams need quality pitchers with minor league options to get through a `162-game season and the team believes they have some pitchers that could be ready to contribute out of the bullpen.

When asked to talk about minor league pitchers that are in play for next season, Fuld named McKinley Moore, Andrew Schultz and Erik Miller as possible contributors.

“Those are the three that I think are probably closest to the conversation and they’re all similar in a lot of ways,” Fuld said. “They’ve got their warts like most minor league pitchers do, but we feel like any of those three could potentially help us in a really meaningful way.”

Moore, 24, was acquired by the Phillies from the White Sox in the Adam Haseley trade last March. The right hander spent the entire 2022 season at Double-A Reading and after a particularly rough first month, Moore pitched to a 3.34 ERA from May 13 to August 18.

Schultz, 25, missed all of 2021 after undergoing Tommy John surgery. After spending most of the season with High-A Jersey Shore, the right hander was promoted to Reading in August, where he posted a 2.45 ERA in 14 games for the Fightin Phils. The former sixth-round pick back in 2019 has a high 90s fastball, but needs to refine his control as he walked 43 batters over 55 2/3 innings.

The most interesting arm — and the one Phillies fans are perhaps more likely to see in 2023 — is Miller. Miller, who was ranked as the club’s No. 8 prospect by Phillies Nation last August, has posted excellent numbers throughout his minor league career, but has struggled to stay healthy. He has some of the best stuff in the minor league system and with the Phillies short on left-handed relief options, it makes sense that the Phillies have their eye on the lefty Miller as a potential bullpen arm.

Notes

  • Thomson was asked whether or not he had a conversation with Bryson Stott on a potential position change. If the Phillies signed one of the top four shortstops available in the free agent market, Stott would likely move from shortstop to second base: “I asked Bryson at the end of the year. I said, ‘What do you prefer, shortstop or second base?’ And he said, ‘big leagues.’ He said, ‘It doesn’t matter to me.'”
  • The Phillies manager also talked about his decision to take Zack Wheeler out in favor of José Alvarado in Game 6 of the World Series, a move that backfired and Thomson received criticism for: “It was the sixth inning. We’re up 1-0. First and third with one out. The crowd’s getting into it now and I really felt that that was the momentum changer in that game and that we needed a strikeout. We couldn’t let them tie the game. I felt like if we let them tie the game, the momentum shifts completely to them and we’re probably going to lose and we need to shut these guys out.”

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