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Phillies Looking Forward To Closer Look

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J.P. Crawford (Photo by Bill Mitchell) J.P. Crawford (Photo by Bill Mitchell)[/caption] CLEARWATER, Fla.—You can read the scouting reports, crunch the numbers and watch video. But there’s no substitute for seeing a player up close and in person. That’s a big reason first-year general manager Matt Klentak invited a slew of top prospects to big league camp. "There’s nothing like actually getting down behind the cage and watching them take swings,” he said, "or watching them pick up groundballs.”
Shortstop J.P. Crawford, outfielder Nick Williams, catcher Andrew Knapp and righthanders Jake Thompson, Mark Appel and Zach Eflin are all prospects who received non-roster invitations to big league camp. Catcher Jorge Alfaro, picked up from the Rangers along with Williams and Thompson in the Cole Hamels deal, was in camp as a member of the 40-man roster. All of these players need more time in the minors, but several could reach Philadelphia before the season is over. "I think as a general rule, if there is a player who has a reasonable chance to impact your major league club in the upcoming season, having that player around the big league club, around the big league staff in spring training tends to be good,” Klentak said. Back in 2000, the Phillies brought a 21-year-old Jimmy Rollins to camp. Incumbent shortstop Desi Relaford looked across the clubhouse at Rollins and said he needed to pick it up because "that cat can play.” Rollins reached the majors that September, starting a 14-year run at shortstop. Crawford will play this season at age 21. After the Phillies improved their stock of prospects through trades, the last thing they want to do is rush a player. "We’re in a position to make sure players get the at-bats or innings we think they need before we move them,” director of player development Joe Jordan said. "We hopefully have the volume of players and prospects that we can put them on a schedule, and if they change that schedule, that’s good.” PHIL-UPS • The Phillies acquired utility infielder Taylor Featherston from the Angels in a cash transaction. He hit .162/.212/.247 in 154 at-bats for the Angels in 2015 as a Rule 5 pick. • The Phillies traded lefthander Jesse Biddle, the 2010 first-round pick, to the Pirates for reliever Yoervis Medina

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. Biddle will miss 2016 after having Tommy John surgery.

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