The Lehigh Valley IronPigs figure to have a pretty veteran group of players on their roster this season, with just enough of a sprinkling of true prospects to make things very interesting at Coca-Cola Park.
When you look at the potential rotation, Joe Savery, Andrew Carpenter and Brian Mazone would seem like definites. If the Phillies decided that they were better off keeping Kyle Kendrick stretched out to start rather than stashing him in the major league bullpen, he would be another lock to put into the rotation. Nate Bump would figure to have won a spot at Triple-A and then, there's Brandon Duckworth and Ryan Vogelsong as potential starters, although neither are guaranteed of anything. The bullpen will have Scott Mathieson and Mike Zagurski moving up from Double-A and it's possible that Alex Concepcion and/or Patrick Overholt could also get a promotion either to start the season or later in the year. Jake Woods and Jason Anderson also appear to be back at Lehigh Valley this summer, as well.
That leaves just a few spots and plenty of names to consider, including Brian Gordon, Oscar Villareal and Ehren Wasserman.
The Phillies will have some catching moves to consider, as well. Paul Hoover, who is still in major league camp, will start the year at Lehigh Valley and former major leaguers John Suomi and Dane Sardinha are also going to get serious consideration. Tuffy Gosewisch is also deserving of a chance to be at Triple-A, but the Phillies are enamored with how he handles pitchers and value him so much in that regard, that he could start the year at Double-A Reading, where he'll get to work with some of the top pitching prospects in the organization. It's kind of a shame, but Kevin Nelson will also start the year at Reading rather than getting a return shot to Triple-A Lehigh Valley.
First base at Lehigh Valley is locked with fan favorite Andy Tracy. The defacto leader of the IronPigs is a key member of the club both on the field and off and is known for being a strong leader in the clubhouse and someone that young players can learn a lot from. Wilson Valdez and Cody Ransom are both with the big league club yet, but both figure to head for Lehigh Valley to start the season. Ransom will likely start at third, Valdez at short and Brian Bocock at second, with Neil Sellers getting a promotion from Double-A and splitting time between first and third. Tag Bozied, Melvin Dorta and Luis Maza will be scrambling for what's left on the IronPigs roster.
And then, there's the outfield. John Mayberry Jr. will return to Lehigh Valley after a nice spring and a failed long shot at becoming the Phillies right-handed bat off the bench. Quintin Berry gets a deserved promotion from Double-A Reading. Fans will enjoy watching Berry, who is an all out sort of player with plenty of speed and all-around talent. Rich Thompson is a fan favorite at Lehigh Valley, but his spot on the roster isn't guaranteed, although he would be a good player to have take Berry under his wing and help him learn the rigors of Triple-A ball. Former Pittsburgh Pirate Chris Duffy is hanging around camp, as is Freddy Guzman, who both have a shot at heading to Coca-Cola Park this season. DeWayne Wise will have to decide on whether to accept an assignment to Triple-A Lehigh Valley if he doesn't start the season with the big league club. Wise hasn't had a great spring and isn't likely at all to make the Phillies and it's also possible that they would simply release him if they don't see him being the right fit for their Triple-A club.
The problem is that nothing can be written in stone, thanks to a potential domino-effect which tends to happen every spring. Teams will be releasing a lot of players in the coming days and placing a bunch more on waivers. Should the Phillies find someone to their liking on those lists, the dominoes start to fall as they fit that player into the organization. It's also very possible that one of those players could find a home on the major league roster, starting the dominoes to fall from the very top down through the organization. Trades are also a potential hazard when you try to figure out minor league rosters at this time of the year and the Phillies have been known to be looking for some major league pitching help which could also make for changes down below. Then, you figure that injuries can happen at any time and it could all fall apart pretty quickly. All we know is that at some point, the dust from the falling dominoes will settle and umpires all over the country will be yelling "play ball" for real.