PHILADELPHIA -- Somehow, someway, the Phillies have the third-best record in the National League and the fourth-best record in baseball since the All-Star break.
They have mostly young players to thank for that. Phillies fans will get a look at two of them for the first time this week at Citizens Bank Park, where the Phillies host the Mets in a four-game series. Rookie right-hander Jerad Eickhoff, whom they acquired from Texas in the Cole Hamels trade, starts Wednesday night against the first-place Mets. Rookie infielder/outfielder Darnell Sweeney, whom they acquired from the Dodgers in the Chase Utley deal, made his debut at Citizens Bank Park in Monday's 16-7 loss to the Mets when he flew out in the 7th inning as a pinch-hitter.
Eickhoff allowed five hits, one walk and struck out five in six scoreless innings in his big league debut Friday against the Marlins in Miami. Sweeney crushed a homer for his first big league hit Saturday against the Marlins. He started Sunday and walked three times in four plate appearances.
"I like him," Phillies interim manager Pete Mackanin said about Sweeney. "He looked like a sure-handed outfielder. He moves well. He went to the ball well. I was just talking to [bench coach] Larry Bowa and [hitting coach Steve] Henderson about the first time [Sweeney] took batting practice. The ball wasn't coming off his bat in batting practice very well. He wasn't really popping the ball. Then he hits that home run to left-center [at Marlins Park.]"
The ball traveled a projected 445 feet, according to Statcast™.
"He crushed it. That got rid of any doubts we might have had about his pop," Mackanin said with a smile.
The Phillies' farm system had been ranked near the bottom in baseball for years, but the prospects Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. and his staff acquired in the past month, along with strong Drafts the past two or three years, have jumped them to No. 7 in baseball, according to MLBPipeline.com.
Eickhoff and Sweeney are two of the reasons why.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his Phillies blog The Zo Zone, follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.