Now that that other outdoor sports team on Pattison Ave is no longer the “Big Game” defending Champions, hopefully the Baseball agents, players, and front offices can start getting the seemingly endless FA period into higher gear. Once again the biggest story from the Philadelphia Phillies concerned a former player, and not much else. No I will not get into tabloid stuff about Manager Gabe Kapler that happened years ago, until and unless it actually affects the team itself. Instead I will continue my series on Non Roster Invitees (NRI), this week focusing on LHPs.
More Ex Phillie News: J-Roll Joins Up
On Tuesday the Phillies announced the hiring of Jimmy Rollins as a special adviser to Executive Vice President David Buck. Per the team announcement he will ” have a variety of duties on both the baseball and business sides of the organization, including – but not limited to – spring training coaching, meeting with sponsors and suite holders, fan engagement and community outreach.” Just going on how outspoken he had been as a player and an MLBNetwork commentator, it will be interesting to hear what Rollins has to say in the coming season and beyond.
NRI Notes: LHPs
While none of these players are on the top 100 prospects list just put out by MLB Pipeline, and the 2019 top 30 by team is not out yet, two of the below made the 2018 team list
2018 Phillies Top 30 MLB Pipeline NRI
JoJo Romero (5) 22, was picked by the Phillies in the fourth round in the 2016 draft. He had 18 appearances, all starts for AA Reading Fightin Phils in 2018. In 106.2 In he notched 100 ks, to only 41 BBs, going 7-6 with a 3.80 ERA. All in all he has given up less than a hit an inning (245/281.1) in his MiLB career.
Cole Irvin (10) 24, making his second trip in a row to MB spring training, was selected one round later in the same draft as Romero, but has progressed faster. He was the AAA International League‘s MVP pitcher with the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs, with a league leading 14 Ws in 25 starts, He also led the league with a 2.57 ERA, and 1.05 WHIP. Irvin was in the top five in In (2nd 161.1), Ks (3rd 131), and starts (4th 25) was second in innings (161.1), third in strikeouts (131) and tied for fourth in starts (25).
Last Three NRI LHPs:
Tyler Gilbert, 25, selected a year earlier than the above two in the sixth round of the 2015 draft, split last year between Reading and LHV appearing in 48 games, all out of the pen. Overall he has pitched in 166 games, 32 of which were starts. Philly.Com’s Bob Brookover has a great read on Gilbert’s ability to quickly pick up new pitches, with the help of then Clearwater Threshers teammate (now with Reading) Seth McGarry. As Brookover notes: Pitching in 48 games at double-A Reading and triple-A Lehigh Valley in 2018, Gilbert held all hitters to a .211 average. Lefties batted .169 and right-handers .234. All of those numbers were career lows by a lot, which is not typically the case for minor-league pitchers as they ascend in competition level.
“I just went up to him (McGarry) and said, ‘How do you throw that cutter of yours?’ ” Gilbert said. “He taught me the grip, and I actually learned it in one day and used it in the game the next night and it worked. He was pretty impressed. He was, like, ‘Hey, you picked that up in one day.’ It just felt so natural. It was really cool. It kind of gave me confidence in learning new pitches going forward.”
You can read the full story here.
Jeremy Bleich, 31, was drafted by the New York Yankees, back in 2008, as a compensation pick – 44th overall. He was signed to a MiLB deal back on 12/21/18 as a FA, and assigned to LHV, though it is not his first stint with the team. In 2016 he split time at AA and AAA, most of it at Reading. Bleich finally made his first MLB start on 7/13/18, with the Oakland Athletics.
Edward Paredes, 32, like Bleich was signed to a MiLB deal as a FA, on 1/11/19. He was originally signed by the Seattle Mariners as an amateur FA from the Dominican Republic, in 2005. He comes into camp with the most MLB experience of the five, having appeared in 25 games for the Los Angeles Dodgers the last two seasons. He went 3-0, with a 1.06 WHip. He put up zeroes his first 10 games in 2018, 7.2 In, 2H, 8K, 2BB, until he gave up 3 his next outing, 2H – one a HR, 1BB, 0K in .1 innings.
Except for the fact that pitchers and catchers report in nine days, your guess is as good as mine.