Scout’s Corner: Former MLB scout breaks down Phillies-Braves Opening Day

Scout’s Corner: Former MLB scout breaks down Phillies-Braves Opening Day


MO2’s resident scout, Bob Johnson, offers his insights into the Phillies’ 3-2 win over the Braves on Opening Day.

By Joe Frisaro @ManOn2nd

The Philadelphia Phillies are improved, and the Atlanta Braves are still the team to beat in the National League East.

Those are two quick observations from former MLB scout, Bob Johnson, a regular contributor to Man On Second Baseball (MO2).

Johnson, who has four decades of professional scouting experience, spent Opening Day watching from home the Phillies edge the Braves, 3-2, in 10 innings at Citizens Bank Park.

Here’s what caught his eye:

“I think the Philadelphia ‘pen is going to be a little better,” Johnson said. “They have some veterans out there that I think will be helpful. They didn’t all pitch yesterday. But, I think, combining with what I saw in the spring, they’ll be better.”

The Phillies ‘pen threw 3 1/3 shutout innings in relief of Aaron Nola.

Hector Neris worked the ninth and Connor Brogdon took care of the 10th for the win.

“If I’m Philly, I’m very encouraged that things seemed to work together pretty good,” Johnson said. “Hector Neris managed to get out of the ninth inning, which for them is spectacular. He’s one of those guys, he will either get everybody out or give up a field goal. One of the two.”

Wind holds up potential homers:

In different conditions, Freddie Freeman, Dansby Swanson and Bryce Harper probably would have had homers on Thursday.

“But, the conditions yesterday in Philly were very windy,” Johnson said. “Atlanta lost two home runs to the wind — Swanson and Freeman. Harper had one too.”

Atlanta LHP Max Fried: 5 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 8 Ks.

“Fried, he couldn’t command his breaking stuff, at all,” Johnson said. “He hung a lot of pitches that they popped up. He was not sharp.”

Philadelphia RHP Aaron Nola: 6 2/3 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 6 Ks.

“Nola was sharp,” Johnson said. “I’m a little bit worried that they have him throwing cutters.”

Johnson says Nola should be more of a classic fastball, changeup pitcher.

Phillies defense/Andrew McCutchen:

“Philly’s defense tightened up over last year,” Johnson said. “Atlanta hit a lot of balls hard that were caught, because the Phillies got good jumps and they played pretty well. The other thing that stood out is McCutchen looks like he’s moving like McCutchen again.”

Phillies 3B Alec Bohm:

“He’s got a nice approach at the plate,” Johnson said. “He doesn’t expand the strike zone. He’s very willing to go the other way, which is rare for a young player. He made a couple of nice plays coming in. He throws good enough. He’s going to be OK. He’s going to hit alright, because he’s got a sense of the strike zone. I like Bohm.”

Braves OF Ronald Acuna Jr.:

“Acuna, he’s just a special player,” Johnson said. “He and [Juan] Soto [Nationals] are two of the most exciting players in the Major Leagues. It’s going to be interesting to track their progress.”

Bottom line:

“Philly is better. There is no question Philly is better,” Johnson said. “Whether they’re going to be better in the division, who knows? Atlanta and the Mets are clearly better.”


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