You have to wonder if there's a free agent relief pitcher that the Phillies haven't talked to this winter. New GM Matt Klentak continues to add new faces to a mix of pitchers, some of whom will compete for major league jobs and others who will serve as insurance in the minors. The latest additions are left-handers Edgar Ibarra and Jeremy Bleich, who both recently signed minor league deals with the club.
Ibarra has pitched int he majors, making his debut last June with the Los Angeles Angels. The 26-year old pitched in two games, allowing one earned run over four innings [2.25 ERA], walking three and striking out three. Ibarra has plenty of Triple-A experience, pitching in 96 games, 95 of which were in relief, in the Minnesota and Angels organizations. At the highest level of the minors, he's gone 9-3 with a 4.18 ERA and two saves, striking out 122 in 129 1/3 innings of work. The Phillies did not immediately invite Ibarra to spring training, but he could be added to the list of non-roster players coming into camp.
Bleich (pictured at left) hasn't pitched in the majors and has just 24 games at the Triple-A level with the Yankees and Pirates. Last season, Bleich pitched in 39 minor league games, going 1-2, 2.88 on the season.
In addition to Ibarra and Bleich, the Phillies also signed former Stanford QB Evan Crower to a minor league deal. Crower joins former Stanford football players Tyler Gaffney and Zach Hoffpauir at trying their hand at playing professional baseball. The Phillies saw Crower at a tryout for the California Winter League and signed him immediately after the tryout.
"It's crazy. I'm very excited for the opportunity and to start the grind," Crower told RuleOfTree.com after signing with the Phillies. Crower is 6' 5", 216 pounds and is a left-hander pitcher.
Crower had hoped to play both baseball and football at Stanford, but never made it onto the baseball field. In football, he served as a backup to both Andrew Luck and Kevin Hogan, completing 24 of 42 pass attempts for 324 yards and three touchdowns. Crowder does have a year of college eligibility remaining, but doesn't appear likely to return to Stanford, although he had considered a transfer to Michigan at one point as a graduate transfer. It's likely that Crower will pitch in extended spring camp for the Phillies and join either Williamsport or the GCL Phillies when their season begins in June. Right now, Crower reportedly has a mid-90s fastball and a good mound presence, so with a good spring, a shot at Lakewood wouldn't be out of the question.