Looking To The Lynx

At some point in the season, every team has to reach out to their Triple-A team for some help. When the Phillies reach, they have to reach across the border, but just how much help is there?

The Philadelphia Phillies don't have the best possible situation with their Triple-A team this season. The switch from Scranton to Ottawa wouldn't seem to be the best move for this season, but it's actually more of a long-term move that will allow the Phillies to park their Triple-A club in the Lehigh Valley starting next season. That will bring the highest level of minor league players just a little more than an hour away from Philadelphia when Ottawa moves to the Lehigh Valley and morphs into the Lehigh Valley IronPigs for the 2008 season.

In any event, the Phillies will be looking toward Ottawa when they look for help from Triple-A this season. Just what will they find?

Well, for starters - and we mean starting pitchers - there's J.A. Happ. The Phillies prospect was in major league camp and impressed the Phillies with how he worked while he was in camp. If not for the fact that the Phillies prefer to keep him in the starting rotation, he might have found his way to the Phillies bullpen to open the season. Instead, the Phillies gave spots to prospects Joe Bisenius and Zack Segovia. Happ is the real deal and will help the Phillies at some point down the road, possibly as early as this season. Pulling him south to work out of the bullpen on a short-term basis isn't out of the question and should they find themselves in need of starting pitching, they'll have Happ's number on speed dial.

The rest of the pitching prospects aren't as worthy. Names like Eude Brito and Fabio Castro dotted the Phillies roster in the past, but aren't figured on to provide much help this season with the big league club. Brian Sanches was in the major league bullpen last season, but will only be there if absolutely necessary this season. Then there's Yoel Hernandez, who has to show that he's healthy and can stay that way before he would get the call to Philadelphia. Names like Kane Davis and Brian Mazone are more than likely going to spend the summer with Ottawa rather than get a vacation to Philadelphia.

Is there a Chris Coste among the group? Actually, when he's healthy, Chris Coste himself may be among the group. But if you're looking for a veteran minor leaguer who deserves a shot, look to Gary Burnham. This guy has spent time in a couple different minor league organizations and just simply hasn't gotten a shot at playing in the majors. Like Coste, he's put up solid minor league numbers and has done whatever has been asked of him. There ought to be some rule that a guy like Burnham gets an automatic roster spot in September, because it's definitely earned. Burnham could get a call if the Phillies need help on the infield, but again, it's a long shot that he will see Philadelphia.

Brent Abernathy has major league experience and would likely be considered for a utility infielder's job if needed. There's also Danny Sandoval and Brennan King. Sandoval made a quick exit from spring training, but King left an impression on the Phillies brass and he could see Philadelphia by the end of the summer.

In the outfield, there are veterans like Ron Calloway and Lou Collier along with minor league veteran Jim Rushford. After that, prospect Chris Roberson will be at Ottawa awaiting a return to the majors.

Jason Jaramillo and Dusty Wathan are the catchers at Triple-A, so Coste would likely be the best bet for a utility role when he's healthy, if he's not kept on the major league roster. Jaramillo is a solid prospect, but needs time at the Triple-A level to be ready for the majors. Wathan is more of a mercenary type who is unlikely to be with the Phillies at any point during the season.

The numbers game always plays a role. Brito, Castro, Hernandez, Sandoval and Roberson are all on the 40 man roster, meaning that they could get the first calls if the Phillies need help.


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