Phillies Nation

2012 Spring Training

Update: Non-Rostered Invitees – Position Players

Frandsen might have to get as creative to break camp with the Phils. Photo: AP

As Spring Training’s third calendar week comes to a close, the Phils have fourteen non-rostered invitees still in camp. On Friday, the Phils reassigned catcher Steven

Lerud of the original eight position player invitees to Minor League camp. We’ll take a look at the seven remaining position players and reassess their chances of cracking the big league club. Our original preview can be found here. The remaining seven players are listed alphabetically for your convenience.

Kevin Frandsen

What I originally wrote:

Frandsen was the Iron Pigs’ hottest hitter in 2011, hitting .321 with 3 bombs across 30 games, before being placed on the restricted list for violating MiLB’s restricted substance policy for using Ritalin to treat ADHD without a MiLB approved-waiver. Frandsen, like Orr, plays 2B and 3B, and is a slightly better Major League hitter (.243/.302/.335 v. Orr’s .254/.286/.322). Frandsen, however, rates as a below average defender at 2B and 3B and his offensive output does not separate himself far enough away from Orr to leapfrog him.

Projected Role: Starting utility infielder (2B/3B, not an oxymoron) for the Iron Pigs.

Chances of Making Phils out of Spring Training: D-. Would need to outplay Martinez and Orr and benefit from an untimely injury.

Chances of Seeing Time with Phils in 2012: D. If Frandsen has a monster season in LV, he could earn a late call-up to the big club.

What has changed?

Normally, I’d say Frandsen would benefit directly from Chase Utley’s unknown status and Placido Polanco’s jammed finger. But Frandsen has not put any pressure on the Phillies to keep his name in the conversation (.185/.303/.370 in 27 ABs). It doesn’t help his case that both Michael Martinez (.320/.393/.520) and Pete Orr (.276/.353/.379) are playing above their career averages this Spring, either. Updated Grades: No change.

Tuffy Gosewisch

What I originally wrote:

Is this the year Tuffy reaches Triple-A and stays there? Gosewisch, 28, briefly had a cup of coffee with the Iron Pigs in 2009 (.200/.228/.255) but has spent the last two seasons in Reading. Gosewisch may end up serving one of two roles: keeping the plate warm in Reading for Sebastian Valle and serving as a mentor or being Erik Kratz‘s back-up in Lehigh Valley. Either way, Gosewich is good for what he is: a minor league catcher who plays good enough defense and surprises you with a little power now and again. While I don’t think Tuffy will reach the Phils, I do think Tuffy may spend significant time with the Iron Pigs.

Projected Role: Back-up catcher for the Iron Pigs, mentor in Reading for Valle.

Chances of Making Phils out of Spring Training: C-. This one is surprisingly high. Gosewsich is essentially fourth on the depth chart in terms of Phillies’ catchers and catchers get nicked up all the time.

Chances of Seeing Time with Phils in 2012: B-. Again, surprisingly high but consider this: the Phillies have gone at least four catchers deep each of the last three seasons and four out of the last five. Although, I suppose they could always just sign Paul Hoover.

What has changed?

Gosewisch has only seen 15 ABs this Spring but has put up a nice line: .267/.313/.333 that ranks a bit better than his career Minor League line. The catching playing time in Spring Training has been split pretty evenly between six players, including the reassigned Lerud; for what it’s worth, Gosewisch is outhitting Brian Schneider (.214/.214/.214 in 14 ABs) but these samples are far too small to put any sort of meaning behind. It looks like the former Sun Devil will be headed back to Reading, however, possibly to mentor Valle should he get there. Updated Grades: No change.

Hector Luna

What I originally wrote:

Luna, 32, enters camp as the best non-rostered infield hitter but the worst non-rostered infield defender. His .388 career slugging% caught me off guard, but his career triple-slash (.265/.317/.388) is inflated by two very good seasons (2005 and 2006) versus four poor or incomplete seasons. I don’t expect to Luna to contend for a spot on the Phillies this season and may have trouble breaking out of the crowded Iron Pigs infield.

Projected Role: Bench presence for the Iron Pigs or released before the end of camp.

Chances of Making Phils out of Spring Training: None. Luna has to leap everyone on this list and then some.

Chances of Seeing Time with Phils in 2012: None. If Luna sees time in Phillies pinstripes, the Phillies have likely faced the most unlikely series of injuries of all-time.

What has changed?

Luna got off to a blazing hot start to Spring and continues to play well (.308/.379/.615). Luna is proving he can hit but is not showing much with the glove but those are things known about Luna coming into Spring. I still believe that if there is an infield opening at this point, the Phillies will look to Martinez, Orr, and Frandsen in that order before Luna although I did underestimate his pop. Updated Grades: I have to give him credit for his strong Spring so D and D+.

Lou Montanez

What I originally wrote:

Montanez is the answer to an interesting trivia question: Which player was drafted third overall by the Chicago Cubs in 2000, 12 spots higher than Chase Utley? Montanez, 30, has shown power potential in the high minors but has yet to receive a consistent opportunity to display that in the Majors. Much like Pat Misch, I wonder why Montanez chose to sign with the Phillies when he may have had more of an opportunity elsewhere. Montanez is a career .223 hitter who doesn’t walk and strikes out at about a 16% clip. He probably could have seen time as a AAAA-type player for a lesser organization, but I suppose the allure of playing in front of a packed Coca Cola Park in Allentown chasing down an International League title was too good to pass up.

Projected Role: Starting right fielder for the Iron Pigs.

Chances of Making Phils out of Spring Training: F. Not particularly promising for Montanez, but he is the only right-handed non-roster invitee that plays the outfield.

Chances of Seeing Time with Phils in 2012: C-. It is possible, but improbable, that Montanez (who hit .318/.393/.489 in Triple-A in 2011) puts together a season like Brandon Moss had last year and earns a September call-up. Montanez’s right-handedness helps him.

On offensive numbers alone, Montanez may be the Phillies Spring Training MVP (.400/.407/.600). He has done literally everything he can at this point to earn a spot with the Phillies. It may not be enough but he has come into camp hitting lights out. Monitor the Laynce Nix rib situation: if Nix hasn’t played since he was pulled from the line-up on Tuesday. If that is a lingering issue, there’s a 1:10 shot Montanez is on the Phillies bench to start the season, especially considering the Juan Pierre/Scott Podsednik situation and Pierre’s contract out, which we will discuss later. Those odds improve if John Mayberry still is struggling once the season starts. Updated Grades: C and B-.

Pete Orr

What I originally wrote:

With Wilson Valdez gone, Orr enters 2012 with one less roadblock to make the roster. Orr surprised many last year when he broke camp with the big club. Last year’s inclusion on the Opening Day roster may have been due to opportunistic injuries of which Orr may benefit from again this year. Without Ryan Howard, the Phils stand to carry 13 position players and 12 pitchers. Orr’s chances to crack the roster out of Clearwater rely solely on the front office’s perception, and to a lesser extent the play, of Michael Martinez.

Orr has a plus arm and plus speed that I’d rate better than Martinez. Orr plays league average defense at 2nd and 3rd, though, whereas Martinez has more value and plays a fine shortstop. Despite hitting only .219/.279/.250 in 104 ABs for the Phils last year, Orr has a solid stroke and hits more line drives than pop-ups. Orr’s .254/.288/.322 career Major-League line is more reflective of what to expect with consistent playing time. Working in Orr’s favor is Martinez’s perceived flexibility as a potential outfield reserve. You can do a lot worse than Orr as an emergency infielder.

Projected Role: Starting utility infielder (2B/3B, not an oxymoron) for the Iron Pigs, injury call-up for short-term injuries.

Chances of Making Phils out of Spring Training: B. If there is an injury or Martinez is considered both the utility infielder and fifth outfielder, these odds increase to A.

Chances of Seeing Time with Phils in 2012: A. Orr is really well-liked within the Phils, as demonstrated by his travel with the team during the playoffs despite him not being on the playoff roster. Orr is the go-to, stop-gap fill-in for short-term infield injuries for the Phils.

Orr, as mentioned earlier, is having a nice Spring. I think Orr makes the Opening Day roster if Utley isn’t ready but Utley’s injury is not a 60-DL or a two 15-DL stint type of injury. Anything longer than that and I think Freddy Galvis is the Phils’ Opening Day and starting second baseman. Orr’s long-term chances do go down a bit though as Martinez is having an even nicer Spring and they do not view Mini Mart as the fifth outfielder solution. Updated Grades: B+ and A-.

Juan Pierre

What I originally wrote:

Pierre enters camp as the odds-on favorite to win the fifth outfielder spot and possibly compete for a spot in the left field platoon. Rumors of Pierre’s defensive demise have been greatly exaggerated: while he no longer provides the defensive value he once did while he terrorized the Phils with the Marlins in center field, Pierre still possesses great ball-recognition skills and response times. Pierre’s speed is slowing but is still a weapon and would jump start a Phillies bench or starting line-up immediately.

Pierre turns 35 in August, so age is a concern. Pierre was successful in only 61% of his base stealing attempts last year against a career 70% average. Pierre value is now no longer as a guaranteed base-stealing threat but as a veteran with great base-running instincts and good speed who can score from second on a hard hit ball to the outfield.

While it was, and still is, assumed that Pierre was signed to compete for the fifth outfielder role, a quick review of Pierre’s career numbers reveal that he is a better left-handed option than Laynce Nix. Pierre (.296/.345/.363) over his career has outhit Nix (.244/.288/.430), including better numbers against righties (.288/.334/.364) than Nix (.253/.296/.451). It may play to Nix’s advantage that Citizens Bank Park suppresses triples and helps left-handed home runs (source: cthabeerman, Is the Phillies Offense Good Enough). Either way, Pierre will be a Phillie in 2012.

Projected Role: Fifth outfielder for the Phillies.

Chances of Making Phils out of Spring Training: A+. Slam dunk and it would not surprise me if Pierre ended the season with the most starts in left field out of anyone on the team, including Mayberry.

Chances of Seeing Time with Phils in 2012: A+. It isn’t if Pierre will see time, it is how much time will he see.

Those A+s really should still be there. They should. But Pierre can’t close the door on Podsednik. Podsednik is outhitting (.353/.436/.500 v. .241/.353/.241) and outrunning Pierre (5 for 5 v. 2 for 4). My colleague Jon Nisula pointed out that Pierre doesn’t strike out, ever and Pierre has a quicker “out” clause in his contract that may entice the Phillies to give him an extended look whereas the Phils can stash Podsednik away in Lehigh Valley until they decide Pierre’s value to the team. Worth mentioning: Ruben Amaro Jr. has stated that it is highly unlikely both players start the year with the Phillies. However, like Montanez, Pierre, if outplayed by Scotty Pods, would benefit greatly from an extended Nix injury.  Updated Grades: A- and A-.

Scott Podsednik

What I originally wrote:

And the man Pierre’s signing effects the most? Scott Podsednik. Podsednik played 34 games through various foot injuries last year in both Philadelphia and Toronto’s systems in 2011. Before Pierre was signed, the general consensus was that the fifth outfielder spot was Podsednik’s to lose. Now, Pierre is definitely the front-runner.

Podsednik’s outfield defensive ability has steadily declined over the last few years and he never had a particularly good arm. His career line (.279/.340/.381) is somewhere in between Pierre and Nix, but the Podfather’s declining speed, he turns 36 in March, mixed with a history of recent foot injuries neuter a lot of Podsednik’s value. Podsednik steals at a better clip (74%) than Pierre (70%), but is outdone by Pierre in base-running value per season (3.99 v. 3.05).

Podsednik unfortunately finds himself behind Pierre on the depth chart but, with a great spring, could win the fifth outfielder spot. Long term injuries to a starter may not help either Pierre or Podsednik, as a long term opportunity may be beneficial for Dom Brown to log regular at-bats.

And D-Bo is looking jacked.

Projected Role: 4th outfielder for the Iron Pigs, behind Brown, Rich Thompson, and Lou Montanez.

Chances of Making Phils out of Spring Training: D. Candidacy was a slam dunk before the Pierre signing. Now, Scotty Pods, healed foot or not, is likely on the outside looking in.

Chances of Seeing Time with Phils in 2012: D+. Podsednik would need a lot of luck, and a lot of injuries, to leap Pierre and Brown, even for a September call-up. The Phillies currently have 38 out of 40 roster spots occupied, including injured players; it is highly unlikely that they would use one of those spots when they have such a similar player, Pierre, on the roster. A big year from Tyson Gillies in the minors could drive this to an F.

What has changed?

All Podsednik has done in Spring is hit. And steal bases. And hit some more. And steal some more. Podsednik on numbers alone has earned a Phillies roster spot but what may hurt him the most is the Phillies ability to send him to the Minors before camp breaks without penalty. Still, Podsednik’s odds, not even factoring in a lingering rib injury with Nix or Brown’s lingering injuries, have improved incredibly based solely on his play. That roster math that may have negatively effected Podsednik? Harold Garcia was out-righted off the 40 man, opening up a permanent spot, leaving 37 of 40 spots open with all top prospects who are Rule 5-eligible already protected. The pendulum has definitely swung in the Podfather’s favor.  Updated Grades: B+ and B+.

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