Sure, the Phillies are in last place and spiraling downward in the National League, but Cliff Lee’s imminent return actually does matter — and quite a lot, at that.
Not only will having their left-handed ace back help the Phillies possibly end their free fall, he also represents the team’s best possible chance at landing a top prospect before the trade deadline.
If Lee is able to make a few starts in July to show he is healthy, it could go a long way in helping increase his stock and worth on the market among possible suitors like the Yankees or Angels.
Lee pitched two innings Sunday in Clearwater, both of them scoreless. He was slated to throw four, but the game was shortened due to rain.
After the start, Lee said everything was going according to plan.
“I felt fine,” Lee told reporters after the game. “I threw two cutters and everything else was a fastball. You could see the weather coming, so I was trying to hurry.”
Phils have two top prospects, one Triple-A All Star
For those fans completely fed up and feeling hopeless about the Phillies, there are some bright spots to look forward to.
Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus released their lists of the top 50 mid-season prospects, and two in the Phillies system made the list.
Though he is still just in high Class-A ball, 19-year-old J.P. Crawford found himself ranked at No. 36 (BA) and No. 23 (BP) respectively. The shortstop started the year in Lakewood and batted .295 with three homers and 14 steals.
Maikel Franco, the third baseman who impressed at spring training, was ranked No. 50 by Baseball America. He has been hot lately, averaging .342 in his last 40 plate appearances. He may make an appearance in Philadelphia sooner rather than later.
One more bright spot is the Iron Pigs’ lone Triple-A All Star selection Luis Garcia, who has allowed just two earned runs in 26.2 innings of relief.