The future has arrived in Philadelphia. After spending weeks in minor-league purgatory to open the condensed 2020 campaign, Phillies’ top prospects - right-hander Spencer Howard and third baseman Alec Bohm - have finally been given an opportunity to make an impact at the major-league level as the franchise aims to return to the postseason for the first time since 2011. Less than a week after Howard made his big-league debut against the division-rival Braves; Bohm - the third overall selection in the 2018 MLB Draft - started at the hot corner and went 1-for-4 with a double on Thursday in his major-league debut against the Orioles.
The 24-year-old corner infielder entered the abbreviated 2020 season as one of the premier offensive prospects on fantasy radar screens after posting a robust .305/.378/.518 triple-slash line with 21 home runs and six stolen bases over 125 games last season between three different minor-league levels. From a fantasy perspective, Bohm projects as an immediate four-category impact contributor and is worthy of a speculative pickup in standard mixed leagues. He’s a solid contact hitter with above-average over-the-fence raw power, thanks to his ability to consistently drive the ball to all fields. In a fantasy landscape oversaturated with one-dimensional power-only sluggers, Bohm’s solid plate skills - 73 strikeouts (13.5 percent) over 540 plate appearances last year - could separate him from the rest of the crop at third base or first base in the future. He’s primed for long-term success as a key component of a loaded Phillies’ lineup in an extremely hitter-friendly ballpark.
Here’s Rotoworld prospect guru Chris Crawford's condensed scouting report from his Top 10 Prospects article last week, “Bohm has a smooth, right-handed stroke from the right side, and his power is just a knock below his ability to hit for average. Bohm also could provide a handful of steals, but you shouldn’t count on it. It’s hard to imagine that he’s not one of the best players on the Phillies right now, and if he does get that promotion - and I believe it’s more of a when then an if - I wouldn’t hesitate to add him to my (fantasy) roster.”
As far as his immediate big-league role is concerned, Bohm has plenty of avenues to everyday at-bats oscillating between third base, first base and even designated hitter over the next six weeks. The Wichita State product figures to get most of his playing time at third base, with veteran infielder Jean Segura likely shifting to second base and utilityman Scott Kingery seeing more action in center field. There are some long-term concerns regarding his ultimate defensive home, but those are not a short-term issue. His size and pedestrian fielding at the hot corner may spark a transition across the infield dirt eventually, but for now, he’s an option for the Phillies at either spot. Given incumbent Rhys Hoskins omnipresent offensive struggles - 8-for-42 (.190) with zero home runs and one RBI - after spending the offseason overhauling his swing, it may only be a matter of time before Bohm takes over full-time at the cold corner in Philadelphia.
Editor’s Note: Unlock our daily, weekly and rest-of-season projections, all-new weekly positional tiers, Lineup Adviser, Trade Analyzer, Player Tracker and much more! Get our in-season tools for as low as $3.99/month!
Cardinals Promote Carlson, Set To Return Saturday
It's surreal that the Cardinals haven’t played baseball since July 29 due to the organization’s COVID-19 outbreak, but they’re finally expected to return this weekend. President of baseball operations John Mozeliak told reporters on Thursday evening that there's a good chance the team will be able to play this weekend. He also confirmed that the team’s top prospect Dylan Carlson will be promoted to the major-league roster ahead of their Windy City road trip. Here’s an oversimplification: the Cardinals will play three consecutive doubleheaders against the White Sox and Cubs to make up for lost time. With Friday night’s contest against the White Sox officially postponed, the two teams will square off with a twin-billing on Saturday. The Cardinals will remain in Chicago to play a pair of doubleheaders versus the division-rival Cubs on Monday and Wednesday, respectively.
The schedule logistics are complex and could change depending on the team’s COVID-19 test results later this week, but that shouldn’t put a damper on the excitement surrounding Carlson’s impending debut. He put together an impressive bid to make the Cardinals’ Opening Day roster by tearing the cover off the ball in spring training, hitting .313 (10-for-32) with seven walks and only five strikeouts. Simply put, he’s one of the most electrifying offensive prospects in the game. The 21-year-old switch-hitting sensation posted a sublime .292/.372/.542 triple-slash line with 62 extra-base hits (26 home runs) and 20 stolen bases over 562 plate appearances last year between Double-A and Triple-A. To put those numbers in context, Carlson was one of only 10 minor-league hitters to record at least 20 homers and 20 stolen bases last season.
His ability to hit for average and power combined with above-average speed and stolen base efficiency make him an extremely intriguing fantasy prospect for 2020 and beyond. Carlson possesses the raw tools required to blossom into an elite, five-category fantasy monster someday, but he’s ready to make an immediate impact right now. Based on talent alone, he’s worthy of a mixed-league roster spot moving forward. There simply aren’t a ton of holes in his game. He may not boast elite power or stolen base potential, but he’ll make enough of an impact across every category to be a difference maker for fantasy managers.
McNeil Avoids Major Injury After Collision
Mets outfielder Jeff McNeil was carted off after crashing full-speed into the left-field fence to make a run-saving catch in the first inning of Thursday’s afternoon matchup against the Nationals. Following a lengthy discussion, he attempted to walk back to the dugout under his own power, but he was unable to do so. He was grabbing at his knee when medical personnel arrived on the scene. The 28-year-old tablesetter, who owns a .293/.358/.362 triple-slash line across 67 plate appearances this season, was diagnosed with a bone contusion in his left knee after MRI and X-rays came back negative. He may be sidelined for a couple of days, but the good news is that it appears McNeil has managed to avoid serious injury. Centerfielder’s Brandon Nimmo and Billy Hamilton are the most likely candidates to take over as everyday options in his absence, while J.D. Davis and Dominic Smith are also capable of filling in as well. He doesn’t appear to be a candidate for the 10-day injured list right now, but it’s a situation that fantasy managers will need to monitor closely over the next few days.
American League Quick Hits: Hunter Renfroe crushed a pair of homers to propel the Rays to a blowout victory over the Red Sox … Brandon Lowe went 2-for-5 with a homer, three RBI in the one-sided affair … Pedro Severino went 3-for-5 with a homer and three RBI to lead the Orioles past the Phillies in an interleague matchup … Rio Ruiz went 2-for-5 with a two-run blast in that contest … Xander Bogaerts remained absent from the Red Sox lineup on Thursday due to “fatigue in his lower half.” He’s expected to return on Friday … Chris Sale (elbow) is expected to resume throwing by the end of August … Yonny Chirinos (triceps) is scheduled to throw a bullpen session on Thursday or Friday. He could rejoin the Rays’ rotation starting rotation next week … Charlie Morton (shoulder) threw on flat ground from 120 feet on Thursday … Rangers placed RHP Edinson Volquez on the 45-day injured list with a right oblique strain … Trevor Richards will get the start for the Rays on Friday against the Blue Jays … Red Sox claimed INF Christian Arroyo off waivers from the Indians.
National League Quick Hits: Mookie Betts went 4-for-4 with three homers, four runs scored and five RBI in the Dodgers' blowout win over the Padres … Corey Seager walloped a two-run homer in his return to the Dodgers’ lineup. He’d been sidelined since last Friday due to lower back discomfort … Chris Paddack was tagged for six runs over three innings in the loss … Yu Darvish recorded 11 strikeouts over seven innings of one-run ball in a win over the Brewers … Christian Yelich went 0-for-3 with a stolen base in the losing effort. He’s hitting .167 (10-for-60) this season … J.T. Realmuto launched a pair of two-run homers in the Phillies’ loss to the Orioles … Colin Moran blasted his sixth homer of the season in the Pirates’ victory over the Reds … Anthony DeSclafani was obliterated for a career-high nine runs over two innings in a loss to the Pirates … Tomas Nido homered twice and collected six RBI to power the Mets to a win over the Nationals … Juan Soto launched his fifth home run of the season (in just eight games so far) in the losing effort … Cubs manager David Ross told reporters Thursday that he doesn't believe that Kris Bryant’s left ring finger and wrist injury is serious … Phillies general manager Matt Klentak told reporters Thursday that he expects Adam Haseley (wrist) to be ready to be activated off the injured list after 10 days … Dodgers manager Dave Roberts told reporters Thursday that Tony Gonsolin is likely to get another start … Victor Robles (hand) was held out of the Nationals’ starting lineup on Thursday afternoon … Amed Rosario (illness) remained out of the Mets’ starting lineup on Thursday … Nationals placed LHP Sean Doolittle on the 10-day injured list with right knee inflammation and also activated RHP Will Harris from the 10-day injured list … Pirates activated RHP Keone Kela from the COVID-19 injured list … Padres activated INF Jorge Mateo from the 10-day injured list … Brewers optioned LHP Eric Lauer to their alternate training site.