Ever look through an old high school yearbook that didn’t belong to you or in some cases, even your own yearbook if you went to a large school? You scroll through the pages with intrigue trying to find someone you recognize. You pick out a few familiar faces but the rest are pretty foreign to you.
That may very well be the fan’s perspective when they begin watching the Phillies on Opening Day this Monday.
To avoid that situation, let’s run through the roster and meet the 2016 Phillies:
The familiar faces:1B Ryan Howard, C Carlos Ruiz
These are the only two remaining players from the 2008 World Series teams. They’re the most identifiable players, but they’re also shells of their former selves as they both begin the yearin platoon situations entering the season. Howard could very well be moved at the trade deadlineif the Phillies can strike a deal with an interested party. There’s talent in the minors that could very well push both players out of a job at some point next season if not this year.
The “you know a lot about them” faces:3B Maikel Franco, SP Aaron Nola, SS Freddy Galvis, 1B Darin Ruf, CF Odubel Herrera
This is the group that fans are probably the most excited about, particularly with Franco and Nola. That duo will act asthe faces of this franchise and the central building blocks of the future. Franco tore spring training up, lacing nine home runs with 23 RBI — both led all of MLB. Meanwhile, Nola will assume the role of the team’s ace and is expected to take that next step in his progression going into his first full big league season. The likes of Galvis and Ruf have been around the club for quite some time now and will be reliable pieces this season. Herrera has a chance to be this season’s breakout player after batting .297 with 41 extra base hits in his first season.
The “somewhat know of them” faces:SPs Jerad Eickhoff and Vince Velasquez
While not on Nola’s projected track, these two have bright futures in the Phillies rotation. Eickhoff compiled a 2.65 ERA and a 3-3 record in eight starts last season. The 25-year-old is expected to continue developing his “out pitch” and cement himself in the Phillies future plans this year. Velasquezwas the prized piece in the Ken Giles deal. He beat out Adam Morgan this spring for the final spot and will be fun to watch as he continues to develop his mid-90s fast ball. Both players are going into their first full season in the big leagues.
The “vaguely know of them” faces:C Cameron Rupp, SP Jeremy Hellickson, SP Charlie Morton, RP David Hernandez, OF Tyler Goeddel, OF Peter Bourjos, 2B Cesar Hernandez, IF Andres Blanco
Many of these faces have been around the league such as Hellickson, Morton, Hernandez, Bourjos and Blanco. Hellickson will start on Opening Day and could turn out to be a surprise addition.The 28-year-old was a highly-touted prospect with Tampa Bay just a few years back but has bounced around a bit since. Morton is expected to be an innings-eater this season while Hernandez will assume the closer’s role when he comes back from a sore elbow. Bourjos will start in one of the corner outfield spots while Blanco will once again be a reliable utility player off the bench.
The other three — Goeddel, Hernandez and Rupp — could all be starters on Opening Day. At the very least, Goeddel will start opposite Bourjos in the outfield after putting together a productive spring following the loss of expected starter, Aaron Altherr. Hernandez will be back as the starting second baseman, as well. Last season, Rupp wound up taking over for Ruiz behind the plate. All signs point to that being the case this season in what’ll be a makeshift platoon.
The “never heard of them” faces:OF Emmanuel Burris, OF Cedric Hunter, RP Daniel Stumpf, RP Jeanmar Gomez, RP Brett Oberholtzer, RP Dalier Hinojosa, RP Hector Neris, RP James Russell
Six of these are relievers: Stumpf, Gomez, Oberholtzer, Hinojosa, Neris and Russell. These are arms that have traveled around the league and landed in Philadelphia’s bullpen to start this season. As the season progresses, the relievers will most likely be rotating as younger arms start to climb their way through the organization.
Hunter has been the surprise of the spring, batting .262 with 13 RBI and earning a spot on a major league roster for the first time since 2011 when he appeared in six games with San Diego. Along with Hunter will be Burris, both of whom will be coming off the bench.