Many IronPigs players will be moving on in 2020
Every Triple-A team has a certain turnover of players from one season to the next.
That’s mainly due to veteran players who sign one-year minor league deals and then wind up playing in another city the following season.
For the IronPigs, though, some familiar faces who came up through the organization and at one time were considered solid prospects, could also be finding themselves with another organization when the 2020 season rolls around.
The Phillies made little secret about their attempts to replace Maikel Franco at third base during the offseason. With Franco’s recent demotion to Lehigh Valley, the writing on the wall is pretty clear that his time in the organization is up. If the Phillies can’t find a trade partner for Franco, then it’s likely that the Phillies will simply not offer him a contract for next season rather than go to arbitration with him. That move would make Franco a free agent, able to sign with any other team.
“At the end of the day, I don’t control that,” said Franco about his potential future with the team. “I don’t know what they’re thinking. I just have to do my best and show that I belong up there somewhere.”
Not only did the Phillies not guarantee Franco’s future with the organization past this season, they also didn’t give him a guarantee that he would be recalled by the team on Sept. 1 when rosters expand.
Another player in much the same position as Franco is outfielder Nick Williams. While Williams has hit safely in 32 of his 35 games with the IronPigs this season, he’s struggled over the past two seasons when given an opportunity with the Phillies, batting a combined .236 in 200 games in 2018 and 2019. Williams had a strong 2017 season with the Phillies when he played in 83 games and hit .288 with 12 home runs and 55 RBIs, but he’s been unable to equal those numbers since. The Phillies appear to have run out of patience with Williams, who turns 26 next month and it’s likely that he too will either be traded or released during the offseason.
“I don’t worry about that,” said Williams when asked about his future with the club. “I just believe that if you play hard and show that you have value, something will work out. I’ve already been traded once and I won’t be shocked if it happens again. You just have to work hard no matter where you are.”
Among pitchers, Drew Anderson is a likely candidate to come off the Phillies 40-man roster. Anderson is out after having Tommy John surgery and will likely have to catch on elsewhere as the team looks to open up roster spots for young players who need to be added to the 40-man roster this winter to be shielded from the Rule 5 Draft.
Pigs lefty reliever Austin Davis has been back and forth between Philadelphia and the Lehigh Valley this season, but is another candidate to be pitching elsewhere in 2020. Over this season and last, Davis has pitched in 40 games with the Phillies and has a 5.21 ERA in the majors.
“I think every player here knows that in one way or another, they’re auditioning for 29 other teams,” said manager Gary Jones. “Some of these guys will be in other places next year and maybe it will work out better for them. Sometimes, a fresh set of eyes on a player can find things that help them, a change of scenery and coaches and situations can be a good thing.”
PACK THE PARK ... The IronPigs, Columbus Clippers and Indianapolis Indians are battling for the top spot in International League attendance. Columbus currently leads with an average of 7,665 fans per game, while Lehigh Valley is bringing in 7,492 per game. The Indians are right behind Lehigh Valley with 7,475 per game. The Gwinnett Stripers are at the other end of the spectrum, with just 5,231 per game.
IT’S A WRAP ... The season is winding down, and Lehigh Valley has just one more homestand, which begins on Aug. 19 and brings the Syracuse Mets and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders to town. The season ends with a seven-game road trip to Syracuse and Pawtucket.
WE’RE TALKING PLAYOFFS? ... Lehigh Valley doesn’t figure to be playing past Labor Day, when the regular season ends. They’ve fallen to fifth in the IL North, a full eight games behind Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. At 10 games behind Durham, they’re even further out in the wild card hunt.