Red Barons Update: Bullpen Could Provide Help

With the major league club struggling out of the bullpen, there could be help on the horizon at AAA Scranton Wilkes-Barre. Several young relievers have been getting the job done in the early going for the Red Barons.

The Red Barons bullpen has gone 3-1 with a 3.35 ERA through the first 13 games of the season. Opponents are hitting .250 off Scranton relievers, as compared to .318 against the starters, who have compiled an ERA of 6.68 in the early going.

With the Phillies having bullpen issues at the major league level - Geoff Geary, Julio Santana and Aaron Fultz have been especially shaky - are there candidates to help lurking at Scranton? Yes.

First, in long relief, how about Clay Condrey? The 30 year old right-hander spent two previous seasons in Scranton's starting rotation, before they sent him to the pen for 2006. Actually, it wasn't until 2002 that Condrey (0-0, 3.24) started his first minor league game when he was in the Padres' organization. He also made it to the majors with San Diego, splitting his time between starting and relieving.

To replace Geary, take your pick. There's Ryan Cameron (1-0, 1.29, 2 SV), Yoel Hernandez (1-0, 1.29, 4 SV) and Brian Sanches (1-1, 2.57). Prior to this season, Cameron had logged 73 innings at AAA with Colorado and Boston before coming to the Phillies organization where he pitched at AA Reading until this season. The 27 year old Sanches pitched well at Scranton last season and has a total of 89 innings at AAA, while Hernandez is just 23 and spent most of last season with the Red Barons, pitching well in 40 appearances. In other words, while none of them have major league experience, they've all pitched a decent amount of innings at AAA and have all had success at that level.

As for replacing Fultz, there's Jim Crowell. Crowell, who turns 32 next month, has pitched at the major league level with Cincinnati, Florida and with the Phillies (0-0, 3.00 in four games in 2004). His major league stats aren't anywhere near impressive (0-1, 11.37 in 10 games), but he's put together back-to-back AAA seasons in which he's pitched better than at any point in his career, going 9-7, 2.53 in 101 games at Scranton and Albuquerque.

Of all the potential replacements, only Hernandez is on the Phillies' 40 man roster, but there are currently two open spots, so the Phillies have some room to manuever. If the struggles continue, there are potential options waiting just up the turnpike in Scranton.

Red Barons Notebook: Matt White is the one Scranton starter who hasn't struggled this season. In two starts, White is 2-0 with a 1.38 ERA. Opponents are hitting just .163 against him this season. White has spent all or part of eight seasons in the minors, but he's still just 28 years old and is still hoping to help a major league club. He has pitched a lot of games in relief over the past few minor league seasons and could be added to the list of potential long relievers for the Phillies... Angel Chavez was promoted to Scranton last Saturday and is making the most of his promotion. Chavez has three hits and three RBI in his first nine at bats... Carlos Ruiz went 3-for-5 Tuesday night and is now hitting .395 on the season. He's currently on a three-game hitting streak and has hit safely in his last six games as a starter, going 13-for-23 (.565) over the span. The only blemish is an 0-for-1 that he took as a pinch-hitter on Saturday... Bobby Scales is hitting .450 (18-for-40) for the Red Barons and has been playing all over the field for them. He's played two games at second base, six at third base and three in left field and has made just one error this season.

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