Baseball season has come again, bringing with it the warm weather of spring. Though your favorite team may not have the brightest forecast for this year, the beginning of the season is a time for blind optimism. Anything can happen, right?
Opening Day is once again on a Monday, as baseball attempts to sink its television ratings even further. The season officially begins Sunday, but the true baseball starts Monday, April 4 with the Phillies’ first pitch scheduled for 4:10 p.m., a road game against the Cincinnati Reds.
The game can be watched on Comcast SportsNet and heard on the radio at 94.1 WIP.
Despite what the Phillies’ record will inevitably show, there is more reason for optimism than there’s been since their last postseason appearance in 2011. Third baseman Maikel Franco looked like a star in the making last year before a Jeremy Hellickson fastball to the hand ended his season. Ironically, Hellickson is now the Phillies’ Opening Day starter.
Beyond that, it will be interesting to see if starters Aaron Nola and Jerad Eickhoff and outfielder Odubel Herrera can build on their successful rookie seasons. Recently acquired OF Tyler Goeddel and new fire-balling fifth starter Vince Velasquez will also provide some intrigue despite what will likely be another arduous rebuilding season.
What might bolster the Phillies in the coming months are the expected debuts of several top prospects acquired through trades in the last calendar year. Mark Appel, Nick Williams, Jake Thompson, Jorge Alfaro and Thomas Eshelman are all names Phillies fans should familiarize themselves with to prepare for their possible midseason call-ups. All of them will start the season with either the Double-A Reading Phillies or the Triple-A Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs, teams loaded with players who could be in a major league uniform soon.
J.P. Crawford, the top-ranked Phillies prospect and routinely named one of the top five prospects in all of baseball, could also be a late-season addition to the roster. He will start the year in Reading.
The Phillies will return to Citizens Bank Park for their home opener on Monday, April 11. Aaron Nola will face the San Diego Padres at 3:05 p.m. Commemorative hats will be given out to all fans.
The Wilmington Blue Rocks’ season opener is also right around the corner, on Thursday, April 7. The single-A affiliate of the World Series champion Kansas City Royals may benefit from the strength of the Royals’ farm system. High-ranked prospects like 1B Ryan O’Hearn and OF Elier Hernandez, respectively listed as Nos. 13 and 14 in the organization by MLB.com, will start the season in Wilmington.