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Non-Roster Invitee Preview

Update: Non-Rostered Invitees – Pitchers

Can Scott Elarton complete his comeback by winning a Major League roster spot? Photo: AP

As Spring Training’s third calendar week comes to a close, the Phils have fourteen non-rostered invitees still in camp. On Wednesday, the Phils reassigned four (Dave Bush, Austin Hyatt, Pat Misch, and BJ Rosenberg)  of the original ten pitching invitees to Minor League camp. We’ll take a look at the six remaining pitchers and reassess their chances of cracking the big league club. Our original preview can be found here. The remaining six pitchers are listed alphabetically for your convenience.

Scott Elarton

What I originally wrote:

Elarton comes with an impressive pedigree: former first-round pick out of high school. But, that was in 1994, turns 36 next Wednesday, and Elarton has not played affiliated ball in the US since he posted an 8.24 ERA in 19.2 innings for Triple-A Charlotte in 2010. I also have a sneaking suspicion either he or a family friend routinely edits his Wikipedia page based on all of the superlatives currently on it.

Projected Role: Likely released out of camp

Chances of Making Phils out of Spring Training: None

Chances of Seeing Time with Phils in 2012: Zero

What has changed?

Elarton had, by far, one of the most entertaining Wikipedia pages of all time. Perhaps at the end of the year, his comeback story may be something else to put on there. While by no means a lock to make the roster, Elarton has played his way into at least a spot at Lehigh Valley if not more with his Spring performance. His 8 IP rank 5th on the Phils out of 30 and his 0.75 WHIP is second on the Phils among starters, only behind Kendrick’s more astounding 0.48. Opponents are hitting just .185 against him. Elarton has gone from one-in-a-million to one-in-a-thousand; I would love to eat my words on what could be the Rocky Balboa out of camp. Take caution: there is a still a long way to go and plenty of righties ahead of him. Updated grades: D+ and C-.

Jeremy Horst

What I originally wrote:

Horst was acquired from the Reds for Wilson Valdez on January 25 presumably to save about $600K for future moves. Horst could be more than the product of a salary dump, though, should Antonio Bastardo and/or Dontrelle Willis face injury or ineffectiveness. Horst faced only 69 batters in 12.1 innings in the Majors last year for Cincinnati and hitters hit .290/.348/.468 against him, but fared better in Triple-A. In Louisville, Horst posted a 2.51 ERA with 7.36 K/9 IP with a .211 BAA. Horst could be groomed to be an effective long-man: on 6 occasions in 2011, Horst pitched 3 innings or more for Louisville and posted a 0.83 ERA in those outings.

Horst is 26 and will need a strong spring to leapfrog Joe Savery and Jake Diekman as the 3rd lefty option coming out of camp.

Projected Role: Lefty bullpen option for Iron Pigs

Chances of Making Phils out of Spring Training: D primarily for left-handedness

Chances of Seeing Time with Phils in 2012: C- primarily for left-handedness. Possible September call-up.

What has changed?

Horst has struggled a bit in early Spring Training action. In four innings, Horst has a 6.75 ERA and 2.00 WHIP. Like Valdes, Horst also benefited greatly from Willis’ departure. Also like Valdes, it is still a huge uphill climb to make the roster. Updated grades: No change and C+.

Joel Pineiro

What I originally wrote:

As discussed at the time he was signed, I felt Pineiro was a great depth signing. I just don’t think his present skill-set can outperform Joe Blanton, Kyle Kendrick, or Austin Hyatt to win a starting spot and I would list almost every other righty on the 40-man above Pineiro in terms of filling the bullpen. If some doomsday injury nightmare happens, Pineiro will be nice to have around, but let’s hope it doesn’t get that far.

Projected Role: Iron Pigs’ Staff Ace

Chances of Making Phils out of Spring Training: D-. The door isn’t completely shut and Pineiro’s veteran status helps with a manager like Charlie.

Chances of Seeing Time with Phils in 2012: D. Pineiro needs at-least two starters and likely a few relievers to fight injuries or ineffectiveness to get his shot in red pinstripes.

What has changed?

Pineiro has not put enough distance between himself and the field to really stand out and make the roster. His 4.50 Spring ERA is twice as good as staff ace Roy Halladay, but Kyle Kendrick has been absolutely phenomenal (0.00 ERA, 0.48 WHIP, 9 Ks against 0 BB in 8.1 IP). Pineiro is good insurance for a Joe Blanton trade or injury, though. Updated grades: No change.

David Purcey

What I originally wrote:

Purcey saw action with Toronto, Oakland, and Detroit last year. The 6’4 lefty from the University of Oklahoma relies on a fastball-slider combo; Purcey had success in the high Minors and early in his career as a strikeout pitcher but has seen his strikeouts decline while his walks have increased. Purcey was one of many lefties stockpiled by the Phils. Like the others, he will have to leap a strong rookie crop already on the 40-man roster to get his shot to play in red and white pinstripes.

Projected Role: Main lefty option out of the ‘pen for Iron Pigs

Chances of Making Phils out of Spring Training: F, primarily for left-handedness

Chances of Seeing Time with Phils in 2012: F+, a strong Triple-A campaign could get the lefty to the big league club. But it probably won’t be enough.

What has changed?

Purcey, like Pineiro, has been solidly average in Spring Training in a very small sample. Purcey, too, will benefit from Willis’ departure but may have one of the biggest hills to climb of all the lefties. Purcey is a nice pitcher who is a great depth piece and could contribute with the Phils if needed but likely will be squeezed out in a numbers game. Purcey could very well help the Iron Pigs return to the playoffs. Updated grades: D- and D.

Brian Sanches

What I originally wrote:

Sanches was developed in the Phils’ system and saw action in 30 games across 2006 and 2007. Sanches, 33, was very effective last year against righties for the Marlins, averaging over a K/IP and posting a .195 BAA. Sanches could be a useful piece out of the bullpen, primarily against righties. Sanches has better splits than Chad Qualls and his fastball/slider/sinker repertoire profiles well for Citizens Bank Park.  It’s a relative long shot, but Sanches, to me, is the one veteran to watch in Spring Training to see if he can win a role in the Phillies pen.

Projected Role: Righty bullpen option for Iron Pigs

Chances of Making Phils out of Spring Training: D+, primarily for success against righties

Chances of Seeing Time with Phils in 2012: C. Sanches should not be slept on. If the Phils need an immediate stopgap reliever to plug in for an injury, Sanches should be in the conversation.

What has changed?

Sanches, to this point, has not had a particularly strong Spring in a very small sample. In four innings, Sanches has given up 8 hits and has a team-worst 2.25 WHIP. Updated grades: D and D+.

Raul Valdes

What I originally wrote:

Valdes, for me, is Sanches from the left side. Valdes, 34, was successful in 2011, in small samples, against both righties and lefties but had tremendous success striking out and retiring lefties. Valdes does not walk many batters and struck out over 12/9 IP. If there is one veteran lefty that could sneak up on everyone and make the Phillies out of camp, it is Valdes.

Projected Role: Lefty bullpen option for Iron Pigs

Chances of Making Phils out of Spring Training: D, primarily for success against lefties

Chances of Seeing Time with Phils in 2012: C, primarily for left-handedness

What has changed?

Valdes may have benefited the most out of any pitcher not currently on the 40-man roster from the departure of Dontrelle Willis. The lefty relies on FB/Slider/Ch combo and gets ground balls 33% of the time in his Major League career. In 13 games with the Yankees and Cardinals last year, Valdes put up a very impressive 11.25 K/9 IP. The only draw back? Valdes offered a free pass once every other inning (4.50 BB/9 IP). Still, Valdes’ solid spring ERA (2.25) and WHIP (1.00) have at least kept him in the conversation but I expect the Phillies to choose Jake Diekman (7 Ks, 3 IP) to fill the second lefty role. Updated grades: C- and B-.

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