Phillies Work on Minor League Free Agents

They don't get a lot of attention, but minor league free agents are scrambling to find teams for 2005. The Phillies hope that they have signed some players who can at least help at the minor league level and perhaps, beyond. So far, the Phillies have signed five free agents from other organizations and re-signed one of their own.

Chris Rojas, who will be 28 when the 2005 season begins, spent a season in the independent Frontier League before signing with the Pirates as an amateur free agent in 1999. In two seasons in the Pittsburgh organization, he went 6-7, 4.88 before joining the Padres Class A team in the Midwest League. Rojas became a minor league free agent after the 2004 season and signed with the Phillies, where he will likely be assigned to AAA Scranton Wilkes-Barre. In six seasons with minor league affiliates, Rojas is 40-41, 4.16 and has worked 124 of his 144 minor league games as a starter.

Career W L ERA SV G GS CG IP H R ER BB KO HR
'99 - '04 40 41 4.16 0 142 124 2 677.1 605 371 313 338 570 55

Left-hander Jeff Wilson, 28, signed with the Phillies after playing the past five seasons in the Orioles organization. Originally, Wilson was a 29th round pick of the Diamondbacks in the '97 Draft. He has pitched out of the bullpen most of his career and split his time between the 'pen and the starting rotation in 2004, starting 13 of his 24 games. He has pitched as high as AAA, pitching 39 games in the International League (15 starts) for Baltimore in 2000 and 2001, but hasn't been back to AAA since then. Wilson spent the past two seasons between high-A ball and AA ball and went a combined 5-4, 4.66 at Frederick (A) and Bowie (AA) in 2004.

Career W L ERA SV G GS CG IP H R ER BB KO HR
'97 - '04 37 47 4.01 12 250 82 3 749.0 737 391 334 300 624 67

Chris Coste came to the Phillies organization from the Brewers' AAA club in Indianapolis. Last season, Coste split his time playing catcher, third base, first base and second base. After attending Concordia College in Michigan, Coste spent four seasons in the independent Northern League, where he hit a combined .323 with 44 homeruns and 221 RBI. He signed with Cleveland and spent three seasons in their organization, before signing with the Red Sox for the 2003 season and Milwaukee for 2004. He has played a total of 337 games at the AAA level, reaching AAA with all three organizations. Coste will turn 32 in February.

Career HR RBI AVG G AB R H 2B 3B SB CS BB KO OBP
'00 - '04 25 195 .297 419 1497 180 444 98 9 22 5 99 212 .345

On Jayson Drobiak, Michael Greene of PinstripesPlus.com points out, "2005 will be a crucial year in Dobriak's career as it should be the deciding year in his fading prospect label." Unfortunately, that comment came in an article about the Yankes six biggest minor league disappointments of 2004. After a monster year in 2003 (30-86-.293), Dobriak was much less exciting in 2004 when he moved up a level to the Florida State League. Dobriak, who will be 26 when next season starts, is a big lef-handed bat and the Phillies hope that he can return to his earlier form and give them some solid time at first base. It's likely that they'll start him at Clearwater and hope for the best from there.

Career HR RBI AVG G AB R H 2B 3B SB CS BB KO OBP
'99-'00, '02-'04 48 202 .258 365 1305 189 337 81 11 31 10 111 324 .319

Shortstop Danny Sandoval, who turns 26 next April, was originally signed as an undrafted amateur free agent by the Chicago White Sox. Sandoval spent six seasons in the Chicago organization and then spent last season in Tulsa, the AA affiliate of the Colorado Rockies. Sandoval put up his best all around numbers this past season when he hit .319 and set career highs in homeruns (8) and RBI (66). He has played only two games at AAA, back in 2000. It's very possible that Sandoval will return to AA, since Danny Gonzalez is in line for a promotion to Scranton. Sandoval will also serve as some insurance in case the Phillies don't think Gonzalez is ready for AAA and if Pablo Ozuna, who played at Scranton last season, does in fact leave the organization as a minor league free agent.

Career HR RBI AVG G AB R H 2B 3B SB CS BB KO OBP
'98 - '04 24 322 .276 835 3052 410 842 152 17 178 96 236 415 .330

The Phillies also re-signed outfielder Jim Rushford, who played at AAA Scranton in 2004. Rushford hit 10-75-.275 for the Red Barons and was part of a strong, veteran minor league outfield contingent last season. The 30 year old Rushford was in his first season with the Phillies after two-plus seasons with the Brewers organization and part of a third season in the Rangers organization. Rushford played 22 games in the majors in 2002, hitting .143 for Milwaukee.

Career HR RBI AVG G AB R H 2B 3B SB CS BB KO OBP
Minors 45 294 .252 504 1844 284 464 118 11 14 10 191 201 .326
Majors 1 6 .143 23 77 8 11 2 0 0 0 6 9 .214

In addition to the signings, the Phillies announced that they released infielder Cesar Cespedes, who had spent the last two seasons in the Gulf Coast League. Cespedes hit .211 in his two GCL seasons.


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