Bullpen Full Of Young Studs?

If they decide to go with it, the Phillies could assemble a pretty impressive and young bullpen. Odds are though that at least a couple of the young pitchers will wind up at Triple-A.

Zack Segovia, Joe Bisenius, J.A. Happ and Jim Ed Warden have all impressed at various times this spring. While there's no way that all four would make the club, each could make an argument for being a part of the Phillies bullpen on opening day.

Warden is a Rule 5 pick, so if the Phillies don't keep him on the roster, he could be lost to them. With that as a possibility, the Phillies may give him the edge in the battle to win a spot with the club. Alfredo Simon is also a Rule 5 pick, but hasn't been as impressive as Warden in camp. For his part, Warden got off to a bad start this spring, but has pitched pretty well of late and could survive to win a spot.

Probably the longest shot at this point is J.A. Happ. The young lefty, who was picked as the top prospect in the organization by Philly Baseball News, is more likely to continue pitching as a starter at the minor league level rather than make the jump to the major league bullpen. "I'll do whatever they want me to do," said Happ on last weekend's Philly Baseball News Radio show. "I think that I'm ready to pitch in the majors. I also think that I could pitch in relief, but it won't devastate me if I don't make the club this spring," explained Happ.

Bisenius and Segovia have both pitched well this spring. The shining moment for Segovia came Tuesday night when he got the start against the Yankees, whose starting lineup was missing only Alex Rodriguez. Segovia was impressive and gave the Phillies five strong innings, giving up just one earned run on five hits while striking out two hitters. Earlier this spring, Segovia told Philly Baseball News that he would welcome the chance to pitch out of the bullpen even though his minor league career has been spent as a starter. "They've had me pitch in relief a few times and I liked it. I came on in relief in one game with a couple of runners on base and worked out of the jam and I thought 'this is pretty cool'," said Segovia. "I was joking with all the relievers about what a cool job they've got," laughed the young right-hander.

Bisenius has been an eye-opener all spring long for the Phillies. He's generally pitched well with just a couple of hiccups here and there. Bisenius pitched three no-hit, shutout innings against Boston Thursday striking out one and allowing just one walk. The outing lowered his spring ERA to 1.80 in the major league camp.

So, just how young the Phillies bullpen will be is still up in the air, but it could get very young very quick. With at least four strong, young arms ready to go at a moment's notice, the odds are good that there will be a youth movement of some sort during the season if not to start the season. With Tom Gordon, Ryan Madson, Geoff Geary, Matt Smith and probably, Antonio Alfonseca, locked in to spots in the bullpen and Jon Lieber likely to be there if Freddy Garcia is healthy, there is only one spot, at most, up for grabs. It figures that Warden is likely the leader based on his Rule 5 status and the fact that the Phillies are high on his potential. Bisenius, Segovia and Happ would round out the pecking order for young pitchers looking to win a spot with the big league club.

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