7 Minor-League Prospects Ready to Help the Phillies This Season
In a perfect world, the Phillies would not need to rely on replacement players in 2012. Everyone on the roster would stay healthy and perform well, and all the prospects in the minors would stay where they are.
But, seeing as how this is not a perfect world, some of the Phillies' minor leaguers will have to step up this season. From injuries to Ryan Howard and Placido Polanco to an unsure back-end of the bullpen, the Phillies may have to call up some prospects to fill holes.
Not all prospects are ready, though. Baby Aces, like Trevor May and Jesse Biddle, touted as they may be, are nowhere near prepared for MLB action.
This list includes seven prospects who are ready and likely to help in some way in 2012.
Schwimer isn't 100 percent new to the MLB, but his career 12 games for the Phillies, all coming last year, do not necessarily make him a shoo-in for a roster spot.
His 1.85 ERA in Class Triple-A Lehigh Valley last year make him the No. 1 candidate for the closer job there, and the organization would love to see him play another year down to better his pitching.
That being said, Schwimer is still ready for the MLB. His time in 2011 for the big club, in which he pitched in 12 games and amassed a 5.02 ERA, was less than impressive, and his .342 BABIP (Batting Average on Balls in Play) is nothing to get excited about, but in a pinch he'll be the first guy the Phillies go to.
Overbeck, who also played in Lehigh Valley (he split time between Lehigh and Class Double-A Reading) last year, is a strong possibility as a replacement because he satisfies two needs: His ability to play both first and third base allow him to fill in for Ryan Howard and Placido Polanco.
At age 25, Overbeck has shown that he has some pop in his swing, driving in 72 RBI and slugging .475 last year. Defensively at first base he was almost flawless, with just four errors in 96 games played, which would help him as a replacement player to come in for Jim Thome, who is anything but certain in the field.
Overbeck's .277 batting average in 2011 is respectable, and when you add in his fielding ability, he seems like a good choice in an emergency.
At age 21, it would seem like Phillippe Aumont needs a few years to prepare for any MLB experience. But looks can be deceiving, as he pitched as high as Class Triple-A Lehigh Valley in 2011, keeping a 3.18 ERA over 18 appearances.
His intimidating 6'7", 255 lbs. frame allows him to throw a fastball that consistently touches 98 MPH, and his slider is said to have good movement.
The only concern for Aumont has been his control and consistency, but like Schwimer he is ready in a pinch. He has the stuff to compete at the major league level, and I can see him used as a back-of-the-bullpen type guy, like David Herndon.
Prior to last week, the Phillies were seriously considering Galvis for the everyday job at shortstop. His speed and great glove make him an option as a utility infielder, and he may be called up instead of Michael Martinez if and when a space opens in 2012.
His hitting, though widely criticized, was above average in 2011, as he hit near .300 with Lehigh in 33 games towards the end of the season.
With all the hype Galvis built this offseason, don't be surprised to see him come in as a replacement utility man if Polanco is still bothered by a sports hernia.
Justin De Fratus
An end-of-the-bullpen type guy like Aumont, De Fratus also has a chance at helping the team in 2012. His MLB experience last year, as small as it may have been (four innings pitched), gives him a bit of an edge over Aumont.
His 96 MPH fastball and improving slider make him a viable candidate, and in his brief time with the big club, his ERA of 2.25 was far better than Schwimer's. Depending on how his spring training goes, De Fratus might be a serious contender for an MLB roster spot in 2012.
Although he hasn't played higher than Class High-A Clearwater, catcher Sebastian Valle still may make an impact on the Phillies' 2012 season. With two old backstops in Carlos Ruiz and Brian Schneider, an injury would force the Phils to go into their farm system to find a replacement. With the organization thin on young talent, Valle might be the one to get the call.
Described as the "catcher of the future," Valle is an extremely solid defensive catcher, who hit .284 in Clearwater last season. While obviously there is a huge jump, his ability behind the plate would make him a sufficient, short-term replacement.
Savery would have a better shot at making an impact in 2012 if it weren't for the log-jam of relief pitchers ready to play. Behind De Fratus, Schwimer and Aumont, Savery is a long-shot for making the club, but if he does, his two-dimensional play (both as a pitcher and a first baseman) would make an impact on the team.
Savery had a bit of an identity crisis in 2011, switching back and forth on whether to be a pitcher or first baseman. He started the year in Clearwater as an infielder, hitting .307, but after a call-up to Reading, he struggled and decided to pitch instead. After all was said and done, Savery left 2011 with a 1.50 ERA and a September call-up to the Phillies. He allowed one hit in 2.2 innings, and he was relatively good.
His biggest asset, other than the fact that he can pinch hit and play first base in a long extra innings game, is that he is left handed. Outside of Antonio Bastardo, the Phillies don't have many left-handed relievers, minor league or otherwise. Savery could make an impact in 2012 as a LOOGY, a left-handed one-out guy, and if he can repeat his success from 2011, he'll help out the team.