There aren't a lot of big names or even names that casual baseball fans would know, but the spring invitations bring some interesting players to Phillies camp.
The "big three" of the invites are pitching prospects Cole Hamels and Gio Gonzalez and catching prospect Jason Jaramillo. None of them are expected to make the Phillies roster out of spring training, but all are figured on to play a role with the big league club in the not-too-distant future. For Hamels, 2006 marks a return to camp. He was with the club in 2004 and was impressive, but wound up suffering an injury. Because he was hopeful of making the club, he didn't disclose the injury to the Phillies and it started a spiral of injuries that have sidelined Hamels. This time around, Hamels will know that it's a long shot for him to make the club and he's only there to get a look at the club and for them to get a look at him.
Gonzalez came to the Phillies in the Jim Thome deal with the White Sox and figures to leave his mark on the Phillies' starting rotation before all is said and done. The 20 year old left-hander pitched in both low-A and high-A ball in the White Sox organization last season and, like Hamels, knows that he's not ticketed to go north with the club when camp breaks. Jaramillo will be one of the additional catchers in camp, who are needed to get pitchers their work. The switch-hitting Jaramillo was the Phillies' second round pick in 2004 and is in line for a major league job before too long.
Of the other invitations, seven are from within the organization.
Pitchers Ryan Cameron, Clay Condrey, Aquilino Lopez, Travis Minix and Brian Sanches all received invitations. Lopez spent some time with the Phillies last season, going 0-1 with a 2.16 ERA in 10 appearances. In 16 2/3 innings, he struck out 22 hitters. He may have the best chance of the invited pitchers of making the club. Clay Condrey was with the Phillies briefly last season, but didn't get to pitch in a game before being returned to AAA Scranton. He will be in his second season in the Phillies' organization. Travis Minix and Brian Sanches both pitched as high as AAA last season. Both are right-handers and both have an outside shot at winning a place in the Phillies' bullpen this season. Cameron pitched at AA Reading and is ticketed to pitch at AAA Scranton next season.
Chris Coste and Tim Gradoville are the remaining Phillies prospects who received invitations. Coste played at AAA Scranton and led the Red Barons in games (134), at bats (506), homeruns (20) and RBI (89). The 32 year old is hoping to win a utility role with the big league club. Gradoville is a catcher and played for both AA Reading and AAA Scranton. He holds the distinction of having played for both teams on the same day when he appeared in games with each club last May 24.
From outside the organization, the Phillies have invited eight players to Clearwater.
Pitchers Jeremy Cummings, Aaron Myette and Matt White all join the organization. In the case of Myette, he is rejoining the Phillies organization after spending a season in Japan, where he appeared in just three games. Cummings was in the Cardinals organization and went a combined 12-4, 3.76 in stops at AA Springfield and AAA Memphis. He pitched 18 games as a starter and another eight in relief. White is 28 and pitched in the Nationals organization at AAA New Orleans where he went 8-6, 3.72 in 35 games with the Zephyrs. He also made one start in the majors, giving up four runs in four innings of work and suffering the loss.
Veteran minor league catcher Dusty Wathan joins the Phillies after spending three seasons in the Indians' organization. Wathan reached the majors with Kansas City in 2003 and went 3-for-5 (.600), but hasn't been back to the big leagues since. He is the son of former Royals' manager John Wathan.
Infielders Bobby Scales and Joe Thurston join the Phillies organization in 2006 and both will be in camp with the club. Thurston is the better known of the two and was figured on to be the Dodgers everyday second baseman not long ago. He has hit .275 in 37 games with the Dodgers in his career. Last season, he was in AAA with both the Dodgers and Yankees and hit .272 with 8 homeruns and 42 RBI. Scales played second, third and left for Portland last season, hitting .274 with 14 homeruns and 61 RBI.
Among the outfielders, Peter Bergeron has major league experience with Montreal and was in the Expos starting lineup for part of the 2004 season. Last year, he spent most of the year with AA Bowie where he hit .296 and he also played for the Nashua Pride of the independent Atlantic League. Outfielder Shawn Garrett also joins the Phillies after he hit .295 with 17 homeruns and 82 RBI for Sacramento. In addition to playing outfield, Garrett can also play at first base.