Downtrodden Philadelphia Teams Stockpiling Talent

For years the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers were the laughingstock of the league, with its record-breaking losing records, culminating with an amazing 10-72 for the 2015-20156 season. But they put that mediocrity to good use with the NBA’s system of rewarding the worst run, most pathetic franchises, and now the 76ers have a group of super-talented young stars to be that could take the team to challenging for a league title very soon. The NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles in recent times have been a good but not great team, with some years better than others and with a recent low point coming just the season before last, when they had a down turn in performance at several skill positions. They quickly remedied all of that with the drafting of last year’s number one quarterback prospect and in bringing

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in established talent at both the running back and wide receiver positions. And then there are the Phillies.

After winning the National League East five consecutive years, the combination of aging stars and little in the way of minor league talent that could be transitioned to, lead to five consecutive losing records, including a 99-loss season in 2015. But the Phillies have rejuvenated their farm system, and combined with a couple of excellent trades, now appear to be on the verge of emerging as a new power in the league.

While the strength and depth of their pitching staff, and the health of some of their young pitchers, is still a question, they did acquire a future ace in yesterday’s starter and winner against the Dodgers and Clayton Kershaw, Nick Pivetta, in a 2015 deal for Jonathan Papelbon. Also in 2015, they acquired almost en entire team in the trade of Cole Hamels to Texas. In that deal, they received their future catcher, Jorge Alfaro, and two starting pitchers who, baring some continuing injury issues, could well be part of their starting rotation for several years – Jerad Eickhoff and Jake Thompson. But the key in that trade, and a rookie who is demonstrably a budding star after only 70+ major league games, is outfielder Nick Williams. The 24-year-old, left-hand hitting Williams brings both power and defense, and reports have repeatedly stated that he needs only more maturity and plate discipline to become a potential all-star.

Over the past three-four years, the Phillies have promoted some home-grown prospects who have shown their potential and who have already had some success, through inconsistently has been a pervasive problem with them all. This includes second baseman Cesar Hernandez, third baseman Maikel Franco, shortstop Freddy Galvis, first baseman, Tommy Joseph, center fielder Odubel Herrera, and last night’s Phillies’ game-winning hero, Aaron Altherr. In the past few weeks they also promoted another of their very best prospects, infielder J.P. Crawford who is showing why he has to be a regular in the Phillies 2018 lineup.

But the potential mega-star, who has had a record-setting first five weeks in the National League, is outfielder-first baseman Rhys Hoskins, who has clearly demonstrated that he is in the same talent class as the Dodgers’ Corey Seager and Cody Bellinger. Though only one-for-two with a walk yesterday, Hoskins is hitting .290 with an amazing, record-setting 18 home runs, along with 39 RBI, in 131 at bats over his first 38 major league games. Combine that with his 29 home runs in Triple-A, and 91 RBI, that gives him a 2017 total of

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47 home runs and 130 RBI in 153 games. Also of note is the fact that in 532 at bats, his strikeout total is a modest 108. Compare the with Aaron Judge, who has hit 44 homers with the yankees this season, in 506 at bats, while striking out, as of today, 198 times.

The Whirling Darvish will make the start this evening for the Dodgers against the Phillies. Darvish faced the Phillies once before in his career, defeating them in May, 2016, 5-1. The lineup he faced then did feature Altherr and Herrera and Hernandez, but when he takes the mount this evening against the new-look Phillies, the likes of Hoskins, Williams, Crawford, Alfaro will be in the lineup. Dervish is coming off his best outing as a member of the Dodgers, but his totals for the season are still mediocre, 9-12, 4.08 ERA, including 3-3, 4.34 in LA, and 26-24 total over his past three seasons.

After their horrid losing stretch, the Dodgers righted the ship with four straight wins, but suddenly they again have a losing streak. Though only two games now, getting back on the winning side is again essential as the season winds down and the post season approaches.

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