It’s become somewhat controversial recently, but on September 1st each year, baseball teams can expand their roster with any player on the 40 man roster that wasn’t already on the active roster. Teams use this opportunity differently. Teams out of contention like the Reds and Cubs use September to get prospects acclimated to the big leagues and give some potential AAAA players a chance to prove they belong. Teams like the Phillies generally don’t lean on inexperienced players in September or really have a need to. Some veterans will be up as extra bodies in emergency situations, and sometimes younger players like Greg Golson and Lou Marson can observe big league life and get into a game or two.
This year was a bit unusual for the Phillies. Their AAA affiliate made the playoffs for the first time since 2006 as the Scranton Red Barons. Instead of bringing up players as soon as they could early in the month, they let the IronPigs’ season run its course before bringing everyone up. This was frustrating for some fans, especially during the team’s extra innings loss to the Marlins. It was a courteous move by the Phillies that will surely remembered when the teams need to negotiate a new player development contract next season. With virtually two weeks of meaningless baseball being played, some new players are getting a chance. Here are the players the Phillies brought up.
LF Domonic Brown – His recent AAA struggles are well documented at this point. The Phillies are making the right decision by sending him to instructional ball to get more reps in left field and report to Clearwater in 2012 with a chance to be an impact player. He’ll need the at bats to continue to gain experience though. No one learns to hit major league pitching by watching it, they have to be on the field.
RHRP Justin De Fratus – De Fratus is a potential 8th inning guy. After converting to the bullpen full time in 2010, he was able to focus on his fastball and slider and started moving through the system quickly. So far, he’s shown a fastball in the 90-92 range, but he’s sat in the mid 90’s before, and he should work back to that velocity soon. He has good command of his fastball, and he’s able to throw a slider with good downward movement. If he can get that movement more consistently, he can be a really good reliever.
C Erik Kratz – After Dane Sardinha seemingly did everything wrong to a lot of fans after his extended stay as the backup catcher for the Phillies this season, he went back to Lehigh Valley and played even worse. In September, the Phillies went a different direction for the third catcher and brought up Kratz. The local product had a nice year in AAA hitting for power and handling the pitching staff. The minor league veteran gives the Phillies more flexibility to pinch hit for Brian Schneider and use Carlos Ruiz as a defensive replacement when necessary.
OF Brandon Moss – Moss has the most ML experience out of anyone the Phillies called up. He had about one and a half seasons of plate appearances with the Red Sox and Pirates, and he was involved in the three way trade involving Manny Ramirez and Jason Bay in 2008. He was once a top 100 prospect, but he never hit well enough to stick in the majors. With Lehigh Valley this year, he hit a career high in minor league home runs with 23 and was a huge contributor in their playoff run.
LHRP Joe Savery – Savery is one of the most intriguing stories in all of minor league baseball this year and recent memory. His career as a starter was quickly spiraling towards irrelevance, so he started out 2011 as a first baseman. When he was needed in relief for a 23 inning game with Clearwater, suddenly his fastball velocity had returned. When he was promoted to Reading, he started getting used in relief more and more, and now he’s exclusively a pitcher again. No one really knows what he has to offer yet, but it’s certainly a great story.
RHRP Michael Schwimer – Schwimer wasn’t really a September call-up since he made his debut in August, but he’s still a player many probably aren’t familiar with. The big right hander has posted great strikeout rates at every stop in the minors, and he was one of minor league baseball’s best minor league relievers this year. He’s mainly a fastball/slider guy that can sit in the low 90’s, and he also mixes in a changeup that will need to get better if he wants to be more effective against left handed batters.