It wasn't that long ago that Citizens Bank Park was the place to be in September. It was the prelude to "Red October," five consecutive seasons when the Phillies played meaningful fall baseball.
There will be some meaning to the baseball the Phillies play this September but not the traditional type. The Phillies, who will enter the last month of the season with at best, the second worst record in the majors, will audition a number of young players, who may or may not be a vital part of the next core of Phillies.
As far as starting pitching goes, it's already a treat watching Aaron Nola, 22, who has lived up the hype as the number seven overall pick in the 2014 draft.
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"He really knows how to pitch," a NL scout said. "He looks like he's going to be a good one for a long time."
And then there are the rest of the Phillies young starters. Adam Morgan, 25,has dialed it in. He has thrown 24 2/3 consecutive innings without giving up a walk.
"He has composure out there," Pete Mackanin said. "It's about not giving up the walks. He's impressed."
Jerad Eickhoff, 25,the first of the five Rangers prospects the Phillies acquired in the Cole Hamels deal, has opened eyes. Eickhoff dominated the Marlins in Florida and set down 16 straight Mets in his Citizens Bank Park debut last week.
"I'm just trying to get outs," Eickhoff said. "I'm trying to execute pitches."
Alec Asher, 23, another of the prospects the Phillies picked up from Texas,made his major league debut Sunday afternoon when he started against the Padres.
"You can never have enough young arms," an NL scout said. "The Phillies have done a good job stockpiling arms in those trades. If one or two of those kids become part of their rotation, they did their job."
It's not just the starting pitchers, who will be auditioning. Will Cesar Hernandez, 25,who has hit .221 since the All-Star break, bounce back? Is Freddy Galvis, 25,an everyday shortstop?
The Phillies finally have some intriguing young big bats in the outfield. Aaron Altherr,24, has displayed impressive gap power and Darnell Sweeney, 24,has considerable pop. His initial major league homer in Miami was a 445-foot blast.
Altherr and Sweeney should get the majority of reps over the disappointing Domonic Brown and Cody Asche.
"I would love to get a chance here," Sweeney said. "I'm so happy I was traded (from the Dodgers, who have a ridiculous surplus of outfielders) here. Hopefully I'll get some playing time for the rest of the season and show what I can do. I'm very excited to have an opportunity with the Phillies."