Minor Signings: A Look At Some New Phillies

Most of the free agent attention is focused, of course, on the major league free agents. Teams also track the minor league free agents and the Phillies have signed a number of minor league free agents, including some of their own free agents.

The Phillies own free agents that they've re-signed:

Mike Cervenak (3B) - The Phillies gave Cervenak his first shot at the majors last season and he hit .154 in 13 at bats with the big league club. At Lehigh Valley, Cervenak hit .311 with ten home runs for Lehigh Valley.

Jason Mackintosh (LHP) - The 28 year old split his time between the Mariners and Phillies Double-A teams in 2008. Mackintosh was 5-4 with a 2.83 ERA last season and has a career minor league mark of 24-26 with a 4.04 ERA.

Kevin Mahar (OF) - Mahar reached Triple-A with the Rangers in 2007 and hit .276, but found himself back at High-A Clearwater with the Phillies last season. He hit .277 in 34 games with the Threshers and it's likely that the Phillies will move him at least to Double-A in 2009 and possibly push him all the way to Lehigh Valley.

Scott Mathieson (RHP) - Nobody is still sure what the Phillies will get out of Mathieson. His health is still a question mark, but the Phillies wanted to be sure that they wouldn't lose him and prearranged a deal where they could non-tender him and then immediately re-sign him to a minor league contract.

Justin Pope (RHP) - Pope has eight seasons of minor league ball under his belt and posted strong numbers out of the bullpen for Reading last season. If the 28 year old is going to make a move to the majors in his career, he'll have to succeed at Triple-A, where he's struggled in the past.

Mike Spidale (OF) - Most of last season, Spidale played at Double-A Reading, where he hit .282 with eight home runs. He's a good, solid player to have in the minor league system and the Phillies look at him as a potential fourth outfielder down the road.

John Suomi (C) - The Phillies have a number of good catching prospects in their system, but Suomi is certainly not a luxury. Offensively, he's just adequate, but his defense is very solid and the Phillies love having those types of catchers in the organization.

Rich Thompson (OF) - Another veteran minor league outfielder that the Phillies will give a look to in camp to be a fourth outfielder. Thompson is a gritty outfielder who is perpetually in full-hustle mode on the field.

Andy Tracy (1B) - The 35 year old has played 140 games at the major league level and another 1,251 games in the minors. He'll give the Phillies a veteran minor leaguer to help at Lehigh Valley and some insurance should they need another bat off the bench.

Other clubs minor league free agents who have signed with the Phillies:

Ozzie Chavez (SS) - Chavez is 25 and came to the Phillies from the Milwaukee Brewers organization. He's played in the minors for eight seasons, including over 200 games at Triple-A. He's played primarily in the middle infield in the minors, but has also played 16 games at third base. If all of the other options fail, he could stick with the big league club to fill in for Chase Utley or Pedro Feliz to start the season.

Casey Craig (OF) - The left-handed hitting Craig is just 23 and hit .288 in A ball for the Mets last season. He has played as high as Double-A and may start the season with Double-A Reading in 2009.

J.J. Furmaniak (SS) - Played last season in the Japanese Baseball League and hit just .157 for Yokohama. He's played 29 games in the majors with Pittsburgh and Oakland and has a career major league average of just .186 in those auditions. On the other hand, he's played eight seasons in the minors and is a career .270 hitter.

Justin Lehr (RHP) - Lehr has pitched 66 games in the majors with Oakland and Milwaukee and has pitched ten seasons in the minors. Last season, the 31 year old right-hander was at Triple-A Louisville for Cincinnati and went 6-2 with a 2.10 ERA. He will get some consideration for the Phillies bullpen out of spring training, but is more likely going to serve as insurance at Triple-A Lehigh Valley.

Blaine Neal (RHP) - The Marlton, NJ product has pitched parts of five seasons in the majors with Florida, San Diego, Boston and Colorado. Last season, he was at Triple-A Toledo and posted a 1.21 ERA in 38 games out of the Toledo bullpen. He admitted to being a big Phillies fan, especially during the World Series, and it's a great position for him to be in. He'll fight for a bullpen spot this spring, but like Lehr, could serve as insurance at Triple-A Lehigh Valley.

Josh Shortslef (LHP) - The 26 year old left-hander has pitched both as a starter and reliever in the minors. He's got a career minor league mark of 4.22 in nine seasons. Shortslef appears ready to pitch at Triple-A, but the Phillies haven't decided whether he'll pitch as a starter or reliever.

Pete Sikaras (RHP) - Sikaras was in the Arizona and Detroit organizations before finding himself in independent baseball for the past two seasons. Last season, he was on the Golden Baseball League All-Star team and set a new league record for saves. Sikaras is 28 and could pitch at the Triple-A level for the Phillies.

Brian Stavisky (OF) - The 28 year old outfielder/first baseman played at Double-A last season for the Angels. He has played 55 games at Triple-A and has a .238 average at the highest level of the minors. He'll likely be at either Lehigh Valley or Reading, filling a hole for the Phillies.

Terry Tiffee (3B) - The switch-hitting veteran flirted with a minor league batting title last season. He's never been able to catch up to his once high potential, but he isn't the worst journeyman that the Phillies could find.

Chris Walker (OF) - Walker was one of the reasons why Stavisky couldn't reach the Triple-A level for the Angels last season. Walker hit .257 for Salt Lake City last season and can play all three outfield positions. He's got a little bit of speed and is an all around decent, but unspectacular player.



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