Phillies GM Matt Klentak talks trade season, J.P. Crawford, struggling offense


Phillies general manager Matt Klentak met with a few reporters for 10 minutes after Mickey Moniak's introductory press conference and the GM spoke on a wide range of topics including the No. 1 pick, the Phillies' struggling offense and one of their top prospects.

Here are the main takeaways:

Trade season
Klentak said trade talks have been quiet so far but that he expects them to ramp up as the Aug. 1 trade deadline nears the five-week mark. The "feeling out process" has begun, but nothing has been seriously discussed, he said. 

Phillies trade candidates include Jeremy Hellickson, Jeanmar Gomez, David Hernandez and Carlos Ruiz. Hector Neris and Cesar Hernandez could be added to that list as well.

On J.P. Crawford
Crawford, the Phillies' top prospect, was promoted to Triple A after hitting .265/.398/.390 in 36 games at Double A. He struggled initially with Lehigh Valley, hitting .153 through his first 19 games, but in his last nine games Crawford has hit .316. Even though he's hit .200 through 132 plate appearances for the IronPigs, his on-base percentage is .290 because of his 14 walks.

Crawford has 204 walks and 207 strikeouts in his minor-league career. His plate discipline and pitch recognition have been praised since Day 1, and Klentak brought those skills up again on Tuesday.

"He's been better lately and it's not uncommon when a player, especially a 21-year-old, jumps from Double A to Triple A, to struggle at first," the GM said. "J.P. went through some struggles early, but he's been swinging the bat a lot better. 

"I've talked about this a lot with J.P. Crawford: Even when he was hitting .200 or under .200, he was still controlling the strike zone. His ability to recognize pitches was still really good. That's a really important skill set and especially to be as young as he is at advanced levels like he is, to be able to continue to show that is a very important thing.

"And the fact that balls weren't falling in and his batting average was low, that's just a product of making the adjustment from one league to the next. But he seems to be getting it going and hopefully he'll continue on that track."

Moniak headed to the GCL
The Gulf Coast League season begins on Friday and Moniak, the Phillies' first overall pick, will be in the lineup. Klentak said he'll play everyday in rookie ball. Last season, first-rounder Cornelius Randolph, also a high school outfielder, hit .302 in 53 games with the Gulf Coast League Phillies.

Signings to come?
Klentak said a few things require finalization, but that "it's reasonable to expect" that second- and third-round picks Kevin Gowdy (RHP) and Cole Stobbe (SS/3B) will be signed later this week.

Any way to boost big-league offense?
Despite the Phillies' 10 runs on Tuesday, the team has struggled offensively all season and especially over the last month. The Phils have lost 12 of 13 games and been outscored 97-33 during that stretch. The effect has been felt by the hitters, who are frustrated, the pitchers, who have no wiggle room, and even defensively, where some players have carried their struggles at the plate into the field.

"I think the most important thing for this group is to just keep grinding through it," Klentak said. "Over the course of a 162-game season, every team in the league is going to have their ups and their downs. And the Phillies aren't any different. We had a stretch for the first two months where a lot of things were going right. And we've had a stretch for the last month where not a lot is going right. But there’s a reason we play for six months and 162 games. 

"I'll add that us going cold has aligned with having to play some tough teams, and that's a tough combination for us."

Indeed it is. The difficult part of the schedule began on May 23 when the Phillies went to Detroit. Since then, they're 5-23.

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