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Phillies looking well for future

The Philadelphia Phillies are not a good team. They were expected to be a poor excuse for a Major League Baseball franchise in 2016, and they have come through with flying colors.

So why the optimism? Because Philadelphia is outplaying its expectations, with some believing this group would lose 100 games or more. The Phillies are a modest 60-70, a full 15 games of out first place in the National League East. Yet, they have the look of a team not all that far away, especially if the ownership opens up the wallet and signs some quality free agents to bolster the starting rotation.

Philadelphia has found some young talent, which is maturing faster than anybody could expect. While Ryan Howard and his rancid .194 batting average continue to be an anchor on this group, there are so many players to be excited about. Maikel Franco is shining as a 24-year-old outfielder. The Dominican Republic native has a team-high with 22 home runs and 72 RBI, albeit with a .304 on-base percentage. If Franco could get on base just a touch more, he would be one of the elite players in the game with more experience.

Then there is rookie outfielder Odubel Herrera. Herrera, 24, is hitting a robust .281 with 13 home runs and 42 RBI. Herrera can also run with 19 stolen bases, giving him an outside shot to swipe 30 bags this season and a legitimate chance at 25. With Herrera and Franco in tow, the Phillies have some very quality outfielders to build the rest of the lineup around.

Second baseman Cesar Hernandez also looks like a player. Hernandez, 26, is coming into his own in his third season. The youngster has a team-best .294 average with five dingers and 34 RBI, all while stealing 14 bases. That said, Hernandez needs to learn better base-stealing practices, having been caught nine times.

The main weak spot on this roster is the starting rotation. While Jeremy Hellickson has had a decent year with 10 wins and a 3.80 ERA, there isn’t much else to speak of. Even Hellickson, who was once a huge prospect with the Tampa Bay Rays, is nothing more than a middle-of-the-pack starter.

If the front office can continue to build up the arm talent in the organization, the Phillies could be competing with the likes of the New York Mets, Washington Nationals and Miami Marlins sooner rather than later. It would be quick to compete in 2017 with those teams, but 2018 is a very real possibility. Considering where this franchise was only last year, that is a huge victory.

For Philadelphia, there is still a legitimate road to hoe, but at least it has hope in the short-term future.

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