Tryout Camp Nets Three Pitchers

The Phillies scouting staff were in Atlantic City recently, looking to gamble on some potential talent. At the end of the day, the Phillies walked away with three pitchers for their minor league clubs in 2008.

They're not household names and odds are that they never will be. But, if all goes perfectly, they will at least help the Phillies in some way, even if it's at the minor league level.

The Phillies added three pitchers - two lefties and a righty - to their organization with the signing of Jared Simon, Charles Merricks and Dan Schwartz to minor league deals for 2008. All three pitched in independent baseball last season, with Schwartz and Simon pitching in the Frontier League while Merricks was in the Golden Baseball League.

Simon and Schwartz were teammates on the Slippery Rock Sliders club, playing their first season in the Frontier League. Schwartz, a left-hander, pitched at Wichita State and finished his season with six saves and held opposing hitters to a .193 average. In 22 appearances, he struck out 28 hitters and walked just five. Simon pitched at Northwestern and was 205 in 12 games for the Sliders.

While Simon and Schwartz will be making their first attempts at affiliated ball, Merricks has been there before. He was drafted by the Colorado Rockies out of Cal State-Los Angeles in 2000. He pitched in the Rockies organization through the 2002 season before being released. After that, he has spent five seasons in independent ball and will look to catch on with the Phillies organization at the age of 29.

All three will have to prove themselves next Spring. The Phillies hope Merricks will show enough to start the season at Double-A Reading, while Simon and Schwartz are likely headed to Clearwater or possibly Lakewood after camp.

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