Inbox: How does Saunders fit into lineup?

Phillies beat reporter Todd Zolecki answers fans' questions

Inbox: How does Saunders fit into lineup?

Why Michael Saunders over Roman Quinn or Aaron Altherr as the starting right fielder, if the Phillies are trying to develop talent?
-- Dan M., Long Beach Island, N.J.

This is a good question, because the Phils have said they want to learn as much as possible about their young players in 2017. But here are a few reasons why I think Philadelphia acquired Saunders:

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Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Schilling sees HOF votes decrease in 2017

Former Phils right-hander received 45 percent of vote while Wagner got 10.2

Schilling sees HOF votes decrease in 2017

PHILADELPHIA -- Curt Schilling must wait at least another year for enshrinement into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

The Hall of Fame announced its 2017 inductees Wednesday night on MLB Network. Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Ivan Rodriguez received 75 percent of the vote required from the Baseball Writers' Association of America for enshrinement. Schilling received 45 percent of the vote, and former Phillies closer Billy Wagner received 10.2 percent. Former Phillies outfielders Pat Burrell and Matt Stairs received no votes and will no longer appear on the ballot.

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Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Hoskins makes MLB Pipeline's Top 10 1B Prospects list

Dodgers' Bellinger ranks first, Pirates' Bell, Mets' Smith follow once again

Hoskins makes MLB Pipeline's Top 10 1B Prospects list

MLBPipeline.com will unveil its 2017 Top 100 Prospects list on Saturday, Jan. 28, with a one-hour show on MLB Network at 8 p.m. ET. Leading up to the release, we look at baseball's top 10 prospects at each position.

No position in the big leagues places a greater premium on power than first base, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that MLBPipeline's list of the Top 10 first-base prospects is loaded with sluggers. Four of them have plus pop, led by Cody Bellinger's 65 grade on the 20-80 scouting scale, and the rest all have average or better power. Meanwhile, the top four first basemen all ranked among the top six a year ago, while Bellinger and Casey Gillaspie leaped into the top half of the list.

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Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Jim Callis

Alfaro makes MLB Pipeline's Top 10 C Prospects list

Converted infielder Kelly, Mejia grab top spots, Alfaro remains No. 3

Alfaro makes MLB Pipeline's Top 10 C Prospects list

MLBPipeline.com will unveil its 2017 Top 100 Prospects list on Saturday, Jan. 28, with a one-hour show on MLB Network at 8 p.m. ET. Leading up to the release, we look at baseball's top 10 prospects at each position.

Heading into 2016, MLBPipeline's two top-rated catching prospects were Willson Contreras and Gary Sanchez. You may have heard something about their exploits last year. Contreras took over the starting job on a Cubs team that won its first World Series in 108 years, while Sanchez tied an 86-year-old record for fewest games needed (51) to hit 20 homers.

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Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. Listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Nola feels '100 percent' after injury-shortened 2016

Nola feels '100 percent' after injury-shortened 2016

READING, Pa. -- If Aaron Nola pitches as well as he said he feels, there might not be any competition this spring for the fifth spot in the Phillies' rotation.

Nola joined Phillies manager Pete Mackanin and teammates Maikel Franco and Roman Quinn on Tuesday night at the Crowne Plaza Hotel as part of the Phillies' Winter Caravan. Nola finished last season on the disabled list with a low-grade sprain of his UCL and a low-grade strain of his flexor pronator tendon in his right elbow. But after a PRP injection in August and a successful rehab in Clearwater, Fla., in October, he said he is ready to go.

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Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Phils' Dominican Republic academy opens

Club will share 85,000-square foot facility with Twins

PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies' new baseball academy in the Dominican Republic is open for business.

The Phillies and Twins announced Tuesday the completion of their shared academy in Boca Chica, which is east of Santo Domingo on the south side of the island. The $18 million, 85,000-sqaure foot facility is housed on 45 acres. The teams said prospects from both teams will live and train at the academy, and they will participate in education and cultural development programs.

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Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Phils announce 1-year deal with Saunders

Phils announce 1-year deal with Saunders

PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies got a hitter for the middle of their lineup.

The team announced Thursday it signed a one-year, $9 million contract with outfielder Michael Saunders, who made the American League All-Star team last season with the Blue Jays. The deal includes an $11 million club option, which can jump to $14 million with escalators. There is a $1 million buyout.

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Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Addition of Saunders will improve lineup

Prospect Quinn likely to open at Triple-A Lehigh Valley

Addition of Saunders will improve lineup

PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies entered Spring Training last year with Odubel Herrera, Peter Bourjos and Aaron Altherr as their projected Opening Day outfield. It ended up being Herrera, Bourjos and journeyman Cedric Hunter following injuries to Altherr and Cody Asche.

Things can change between now and Opening Day, but there is no harm in discussing what the Phillies' lineup might be, especially after Thursday's news that they had signed Michael Saunders to a one-year, $9 million contract.

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Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Prospect Quinn works with youth on MLK Day

Prospect Quinn works with youth on MLK Day

PHILADELPHIA -- Roman Quinn lifted up the netting to step inside the hitting cage Monday afternoon at the Ryan Howard Training Center.

A boy with a bat in his hands patiently stood next to the practice tee.

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Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Phils avoid arbitration with Galvis, Gomez

Club exchanges figures with Hernandez before deadline

Phils avoid arbitration with Galvis, Gomez

PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies have avoided salary arbitration with shortstop Freddy Galvis and right-hander Jeanmar Gomez.

They still have a chance to avoid salary arbitration with second baseman Cesar Hernandez.

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Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Phils' voice Andersen forever tied to Bagwell

Houston traded former reliever to Boston for future superstar in 1990

Phils' voice Andersen forever tied to Bagwell

Count Larry Andersen among those pulling for Jeff Bagwell to be elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame next week.

Andersen holds the unique distinction as the only player to be traded for the Astros legend.

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Austin Laymance is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Inbox: Will Phillies pursue a big bat?

Beat reporter Todd Zolecki answers Phillies fans' questions

Inbox: Will Phillies pursue a big bat?

Is there a chance Jose Bautista will sign with the Phillies?  
-- Teddy P., Chicago
Why don't the Phillies sign Bautista?
-- Byron S., Voorhees, N.J.

This is a familiar question, but the answer is worth repeating as the Phillies search for another hitter before Spring Training. By the way, I believe the Phils will find somebody, and possibly soon. Sources have said that Brandon Moss, Michael Saunders and Jay Bruce are the names to watch. Moss and Saunders are the best bets.

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Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Mike Trout tweeted after Green Bay beat the Cowboys

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Mike Trout tweeted after Green Bay beat the Cowboys

Angels star Mike Trout is a proud-and-true Philadelphia Eagles fan. He was spotted at Eagles home games singing along with his fellow fans, gave a pair of his shoes to every player on the team as a Christmas gift, and even caught a touchdown pass (basically). 

So, after the Eagles' NFC East rival Cowboys lost a thrilling playoff game to Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers on Sunday, how did Trout react? Well ... like this.

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Hoskins hoping to make bigs in 2017

Phils' No. 12 prospect among 16 spring non-roster invitees

Hoskins hoping to make bigs in 2017

PHILADELPHIA -- First baseman Rhys Hoskins got a bit of good news Wednesday at Citizens Bank Park.

Hoskins will leave the cold winter weather in Cleveland for the warmth in Clearwater, Fla., a little earlier than expected. The Phillies have asked him to Spring Training as a non-roster invitee. Three other Phils prospects received the same invitation at the organization's annual four-day prospect education program: right-hander Victor Arano, second baseman Scott Kingery and outfielder Andrew Pullin.

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Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Former Phillies pitcher Champion passes away

Former Phillies pitcher Champion passes away

Buford Billy Champion Jr., a Major League pitcher with the Phillies (1969-72) and Milwaukee Brewers (1973-76), died on Saturday in his hometown of Shelby, N.C. He was 69.

Following an outstanding career at Shelby High School, Champion was selected by the Phillies in the third round of MLB's first summer Draft in 1965 (58th player overall). His Major League debut came four years later with the Phillies. His final game was in 1976 with the Brewers.

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Larry Shenk is the editor and writer of the Phillies Alumni page. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Crawford among Phillies' 16 NRI additions

Club's top prospect, No. 2 overall, joined by fellow touted up-and-comers Hoskins, Kingery

Crawford among Phillies' 16 NRI additions

The Phillies have invited 16 players to Major League Spring Training as non-roster invitees, including top prospect J.P. Crawford, the team announced Wednesday.

Crawford, 22, is ranked as the No. 2 overall prospect in the Minor Leagues by MLBPipeline.com. The 16th overall pick in the 2013 Draft by the Phils, Crawford hit .250 with seven home runs and 43 RBIs in 123 games as a shortstop for Double-A Reading and Triple-A Lehigh Valley last season.

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Oliver Macklin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Moniak holds his friend to MLB Draft tattoo bet

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Moniak holds his friend to MLB Draft tattoo bet

Back when he was still a prep outfielder in California, Mickey Moniak agreed to a bet with childhood friend Ethan Abrams: If Moniak were drafted in the top 10, Abrams would get Moniak's name tattooed on his rear end.

As you probably know by now, Moniak was taken No. 1 overall by the Phillies in last June's draft. And, on Tuesday, the day of reckoning finally.

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Lefty bat Moss would fill need in right field

Lefty bat Moss would fill need in right field

PHILADELPHIA -- The weeks leading into Spring Training tend to be relatively quiet for most teams.

The Phillies are no exception, but here is one bold prediction with pitchers and catchers reporting to Bright House Field in Clearwater, Fla., in exactly five weeks: They will add an everyday right fielder before camp opens.

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Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Spring is in the air: First workout dates announced

Spring is in the air: First workout dates announced

Despite the frigid temperatures throughout many big league cities, Major League Baseball's announcement Tuesday of the first workout dates of Spring Training should be enough to warm the hearts of baseball fans everywhere.

The following are the first Spring Training workout dates, subject to change, both for pitchers and catchers and full squads of the 30 Major League clubs. 

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Phils' spring home renamed Spectrum Field

PHILADELPHIA -- The Spectrum is back.

The Phillies and Charter Communications announced Monday that Bright House Field -- which has been the Spring Training home for the Phillies in Clearwater, Fla., since 2004 -- has been renamed Spectrum Field.

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Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Inbox: Could Phillies use 6-man rotation?

Beat reporter Todd Zolecki answers fans' questions

Inbox: Could Phillies use 6-man rotation?

Suppose the Phillies come out of Spring Training with six, seven or eight starters pitching well. What are the chances they go with a six-man rotation to start the season?
-- Steven V., West Chester, Pa.

First, the Phils would love to have a problem like this. Second, the six-man-rotation question always gets asked by either fans or reporters. The manager or pitching coach typically replies, "Sure, I guess we'd consider that." Because hey, everybody considers everything, right?

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Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

More protective netting to be added at Citizens Bank Park

More protective netting to be added at Citizens Bank Park

PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies will have more protective netting at Citizens Bank Park in 2017.

The team announced Friday that it will extend eight-feet-high netting to the far ends of both dugouts. Philadelphia is informing season-ticket holders of the additions, and it has invited those affected in sections 114-118 and 129-133 to come to the ballpark once the netting is installed before the end of the month.

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Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Former Phillies player, Australia star Jelks dies at 55

Former Phillies player, Australia star Jelks dies at 55

Greg Jelks, a former Phillies player who became a baseball legend in Australia, died early Friday. According to the Perth Community News, Jelks was returning to Australia after visiting his elderly mother in Alabama when he fell asleep on the flight and could not be woken when the plane arrived in Sydney. He was 55. The cause of his death was unknown.

Signed as an amateur free agent by the Phillies in 1981, Jelks played for eight years in their Minor League system, including two seasons with the Reading Phillies (1984-85). His lone Major League experience was 10 games with the '87 Phillies. He played at first base, third base and in the outfield.

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Montgomery to receive Executive Leadership Award

Montgomery to receive Executive Leadership Award

PHILADELPHIA -- Phillies chairman David Montgomery will be honored this month by the Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation.

Montgomery will receive the Allan H. "Bud" Selig Executive Leadership Award, which will be presented by Selig, at the 14th annual "In the Spirit of the Game" Spectacular in Beverly Hills, Calif., on Jan. 14. The foundation has raised more than $1.7 million for scouts.

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Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Billy Joel returning to Citizens Bank Park

Piano Man will perform concert on Sept. 9

Billy Joel returning to Citizens Bank Park

PHILADELPHIA -- Billy Joel is returning to Citizens Bank Park in 2017.

The Phillies and Live Nation announced Thursday that Joel will perform Sept. 9, when the Phils are in Washington playing the Nationals. It will be the fourth consecutive year Joel has performed at Citizens Bank Park.

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Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

If Phils add OF, Quinn likely to start in Minors

Club wants to see No. 7 prospect play every day

If Phils add OF, Quinn likely to start in Minors

PHILADELPHIA -- There has been some buzz in Philadelphia this week following talk the Phillies are interested in free-agent outfielder Jose Bautista.

Sources told MLB.com that it won't happen.

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Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Offense key to Phils' chances of leap in 2017

Offense key to Phils' chances of leap in 2017

PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies improved eight games in the standings from 2015 to '16, but is it possible to make a similar jump next year?

Anything is possible, but the Phillies must make considerable improvements to challenge for a .500 record in 2017. They had the worst offense in Major League Baseball last season, and the only significant acquisition to the offense is left fielder Howie Kendrick, who posted a .691 OPS in 543 plate appearances with the Dodgers. They also had one of the poorest bullpens in baseball, which must improve.

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Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Howard's farewell Phillies' top moment in '16

Club sees improvement, believes it is on path to contention in next few years

Howard's farewell Phillies' top moment in '16

PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies hoped to see some improvement in 2016, moments that made them believe they were on the path to postseason contention again in the next few years.

They believe they are on that path.

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Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.