Since officially joining Phillies Nation in 2011, I have had the pleasure of providing previews of the non-rostered players that will be joining the Phillies in Spring Training. This year’s crop of players feature a large group of young players, including some of the Phillies top prospects. With pitchers and catchers reporting on Thursday, we will start this year’s fun with the relievers.
The qualifications for the group we’re looking at are as follows: the non-roster invitee in question must have served primarily as a reliever during last season. The Phillies used 19 pitchers in relief last year, not including the pitching cameos by infielder John McDonald and outfielder Casper Wells, meaning 13 players not on the Opening Day roster pitched in relief in 2013. The Phillies have 15 relievers on their 40 man right now meaning that if the Phillies use pitchers at the same rate as last season, four of the players listed below may see some time in the Majors in 2014.
Camp, 38, is a 6’0″ righty reliever that led the National League in appearances in 2012 after pitching in 80 games. Camp’s career 4.40 ERA is scary and his 1.445 WHIP is scarier – his career ERA is higher than 13 Phillies relievers in 2013 and his WHIP higher than nine others. Camp’s fastball sat at 86.3 MPH last season, losing a full MPH+ from 2012 and it was easy to hit: in 23 innings for the Cubs, Camp posted a 7.04 ERA, ranking 269 out of 273 out of relievers that pitched 20 innings or more in 2013. Camp has never been a strikeout reliever (career 6.1 K/9 IP) and has struggled with walks (2.7 BB/9 IP).
Chances of Making Phils out of Spring Training: None. Camp is in camp as filler. He comes with years of big league experience and could be a positive influence out of camp. The odds are long that any of the relievers on this list make the team out of the camp because of the fact that 15 relievers are already on the 40-man roster.
Chances of Seeing Time with Phils in 2014: F-. The Phillies love veteran players but Camp seems like he is a veteran running out of steam. Camp only has five MPH separation on his fastball and change up as 2013 and finally seemed to lose the “veteran, reliable reliever” tag he had earned from 2009 through 2012. I don’t think Camp will see any time with the Phillies. —–
Gaudin, 30, had one of the best seasons of his career in 2013, posting career-bests with a 3.06 ERA and a 1.247 WHIP. Gaudin has the potential to be the best bargain in all of baseball among all of the non-roster invitees in baseball. A solid reliever that follows an 80 MPH slider with a 91 MPH fastball, Gaudin has seemingly found his stride as a swingman, posting back-to-back solid seasons with the Marlins in 2012 and the Giants last year.
Chances of Making Phils out of Spring Training: C+. Gaudin piques my curiosity. Gaudin had his best seasons since 2006 and piled one off of the other. Gaudin is likely better than a handful of relievers on the 40-man roster, including Luis Garcia, Roberto Hernandez, and Joe Savery so if he doesn’t make it, it won’t be for a lack of talent.
Chances of Seeing Time with Phils in 2014: B+. Gaudin is almost a sure-fire bet to see time with the Phillies in 2014. Or at least should be. Gaudin is better than Hernandez and can start or relieve.
Jimenez, 29, relied on big-time strikeout capability to make his way through the minors and has been rewarded with a few cameos in the Major Leagues. The lefty saw action in 19 games, posting a 3.71 ERA in 17 innings for the Phillies in 2013. His 5.29 BB/9 IP were a career-high and his 5.82 K/9 IP were his lowest since 2006. Jimenez pitched well in 66.1 IP for the Triple-A IronPigs, posting 3.12 ERA and 8.68 K/9 IP.
Chances of Making Phils out of Spring Training: F+. Jimenez has a long road ahead of him to make the team out of camp. Among others, Jimenez has Antonio Bastardo, Jake Diekman, Jeremy Horst, and Joe Savery in front of him as lefties. Bastardo and Diekman are virtual locks to make the team while Horst has a shot to make the team out of camp as well.
Chances of Seeing Time with Phils in 2014: D+. Last year, I gave Jimenez an F+ chance of making the roster but, having seen time with the Phillies last year, I feel slightly more optimistic about the lefty’s chances in 2014.
The Young Flame-Thrower
If you haven’t heard of Ken Giles by now, you have probably been living under a rock. The 6’2″, 23-year old righty from Albuquerque, NM hit 103 MPH on the radar gun for the Clearwater Threshers and represented the Phillies in the Arizona Fall League. Described by Jim Salisbury as “an extreme long shot” to make the team out of camp, Giles has the fire power necessary but needs to work on his control in the opinion of Farm Director Joe Jordan. Giles repeated Clearwater in 2013 after battling injuries.
Chances of Making Phils out of Spring Training: None. In the aforementioned article by Salisbury, Jordan says Giles needs to work on his control to earn a spot in Double-A Reading. Giles’ numbers (5.8 BB/9 IP) bear this out. Crazier things have happened but this just isn’t Giles year to make the team out of camp.
Chances of Seeing Time with Phils in 2014: C-. On the flipside, the power arm is tantalizing enough for some to say Giles may see time in Philadelphia in 2014. Should the Phillies go through their usual parade of bullpen arms, Giles likely has slightly less than a 50/50 chance of making the club during the 2014 season. Giles has a few things working against him, namely control, the number of relievers already on the 40-man roster ahead of him, and his relative inexperience. But power arms get to the Majors quick and Giles, who will turn 24 during the season, is suddenly behind schedule. Don’t be surprised to see Giles zoom ahead of some of the folks currently ahead of him on the depth chart.
Here’s a recent MLB.com feature on the 100 MPH man: