IronPigs Roster Report: Who Will Be Back

The off-season isn't just for major league players. Minor league players can find themselves moving around as well. We start our rundown of who might be where with a look at the Lehigh Valley IronPigs position players.

Mike Cervenak (minor league free agent) - Is a fan favorite in Lehigh Valley and is perfect to have in the clubhouse to help young players looking for some input. Along with Andy Tracy, Cervenak is the leader of the IronPigs and the Phillies could do much worse than to bring him back for 2010.

Jason Ellison (minor league free agent) - Ellison has played over 300 games at the major league level. In his first season in the Phillies organization, he played a key role for the IronPigs. If he can find a spot with a club not as set in the outfield as the Phillies are, he could potentially leave the Phillies and look for another shot at playing in the majors.

J.J. Furmaniak (minor league free agent) - Another veteran minor leaguer who joined Lehigh Valley this season and wound up getting playing time all over the infield because of injuries and call-ups. He's another good guy to have around to help young players, but there may be better opportunities elsewhere.

Could Paul Hoover find himself battling for a job to backup Carlos Ruiz at the major league level?
(Photo: Philly Baseball News)

Tuffy Gosewisch (Rule 5 eligible) - The Phillies are going to have to decide whether or not to put Gosewisch on the 40 man roster or risk losing him in the Rule 5 Draft. He doesn't exactly figure prominently in their plans, so odds are that they'll leave him exposed, but that doesn't mean he'll be chosen by another club. He's a pretty good defensive catcher, but he just doesn't hit enough to cause too much concern over losing him.

Paul Hoover (minor league free agent) - The Phillies did bring him to the majors for the month of September, but then removed him from the 40 man roster. He's a decent enough catcher for the Triple-A level and could potentially be a back-up at the major league level if necessary. The Phillies will likely try to re-sign him, especially since Paul Bako is a free agent at the major league level and a door could open slightly for Hoover.

Carlos Leon (minor league free agent) - A career minor leaguer who crossed the 1,000 minor league game plateau this past season, Leon is versatile as to where he can play and the Phillies have also shuttled him back-and-forth among levels to fill in for injuries and call-ups. He doesn't seem to have much potential to ever play in the majors, but his versatility should get him another couple of seasons in the minors.

John Mayberry Jr. - Since Mayberry is on the 40 man roster, the only way that he would be headed out is through a trade, which isn't out of the question. With the Phillies major league outfield set and Michael Taylor and Domonic Brown well down the path toward reaching the majors, Mayberry could be a spare piece of the puzzle. His best shot with the Phillies would be to win a spot as a right-handed bat off the bench, but the Phillies have Ben Francisco for that role and appear to be perfectly happy with him, so dealing Mayberry could be a very legitimate issue.

Gus Milner (Rule 5 eligible) - The Phillies like Milner, but probably not enough to add him to the 40 man roster. He's 25 and reached Double-A for the first time in his career in 2009 and then moved to Triple-A for the last couple games of the season. It's likely that the Phillies will take their chances with him in the Rule 5 and it's likely that they won't lose him.

Kevin Nelson (minor league free agent) - At 28, Nelson has played a handful of games at the Triple-A level in his career. He's a nice catcher, but hasn't shown anything spectacular and odds are that, at best, he's going to be a major league back-up. He needs more work at the Triple-A level though, but again, with the Phillies looking for some veteran-type catchers for the organization, there's a good chance that he'll return.

David Newhan (minor league free agent) - There has been some speculation that Newhan could end his playing career. Actually, he gave it some thought early last season when he was still looking for work, but after a season with Lehigh Valley, where he put up decent numbers, he seems to have grown more comfortable with playing the role of a "veteran" minor leaguer who can help out younger players. If he doesn't come back as a player, rest assured that he'll find a job coaching.

Terry Tiffee came back from a back injury that sidelined him to start the season and put up some nice numbers at Lehigh Valley. Could he serve as insurance at third base?
(Photo: Philly Baseball News)

Pablo Ozuna (minor league free agent) - While he was a nice player to have at Triple-A Lehigh Valley, Ozuna was busted for violating the substance abuse policy and the Phillies might not want to bring him back. It will be interesting to see where he winds up.

Jeremy Slayden (Rule 5 eligible) - The Phillies were able to sneak him through the Rule 5 Draft last year and will likely try it again. He didn't put up any impressive numbers during his time at Triple-A and his prospect status is starting to sink at least a little.

Michael Taylor - Could possibly win a spot as a right-handed bat off the Phillies bench, but it's much more likely that he'll wind up back at Triple-A Lehigh Valley as part of a potential outfield that could include Domonic Brown and John Mayberry Jr. That would be a big, powerful and fast outfield.

Rich Thompson (minor league free agent) - Thompson has been a good addition to the Lehigh Valley roster and the fact that he's from nearby Berks County makes it a nice place for him to play. He's got speed and good, natural instincts, but whether or not the Phillies have enough room for him on the roster is something that we'll have to wait and see about.

Terry Tiffee (minor league free agent) - With the third base job unsettled, Tiffee should be trying to get himself back into the organization. Of course, the Phillies will plug that hole, but there aren't any other options coming along at third base, so Tiffee would be a nice insurance policy to have.

Andy Tracy (minor league free agent) - Tracy's return might depend on how much the Phillies value Kevin Mahar, who hit .314 with 12 home runs at Double-A Reading in 2009. Perhaps more than any other player, Tracy is the face of the Lehigh Valley franchise thanks to his two seasons with the IronPigs. He did a decent job coming off the bench for the Phillies in September and could look for a club that would offer him a chance at winning a bench job. Of course, the Phillies bench will be needing a big left-handed bat, so something could work there.

Jorge Velandia (minor league free agent) - Bothered by one of those mysterious shin contusion injuries that sometimes hamper players, Velandia didn't see much action with Lehigh Valley in 2009. Instead, he served as a pseudo coach for the club and seemed to accept the role. He is playing winter ball though, so perhaps he's not quite ready to put his playing days behind him.



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