Ahh, roster games. You have to love them. On Saturday, major league teams can expand their roster from 25 all the way up to 40 players if they want. Few teams ever add 15 additional players but that doesn’t make the additions any easier. The catch is that players who are added have to come from the organization’s 40-man roster and there are precious few of those roster spots left. The Phillies are definitely in a tough position when it comes to spots on the 40-man roster. They’ve currently at the maximum of 40 and also have two players – Jerad Eickhoff and Pedro Florimon – on the 60-day DL and both are set to return to the Phillies meaning they’ll need to clear two spots.
With all of that in mind, players who aren’t on the 40-man roster aren’t likely to be added to get major league playing time in September. That means players who have put up big numbers at Triple-A will be going home rather than heading for Citizens Bank Park.
The toughest to pass up is first baseman/outfielder Joey Meneses. In the final few games of the minor league baseball season, Meneses has an outside shot at winning the triple crown in the International League. Coming into Wednesday night’s game, Meneses is tied for the IL lead in both home runs (22) and RBI (78) and is second in hitting with a .315 average. Odds are that he won’t catch Pawtucket’s Rusney Castillo, who is batting .323 for the PawSox.
Meneses, 26, signed with the Phillies as a minor league free agent after spending seven seasons in the Braves organization. This season was his first in Triple-A and he walked away with the league’s MVP award and Rookie of the Year award, equaling what Rhys Hoskins achieved with Lehigh Valley last season. If the Phillies don’t add Meneses to the 40-man roster, he’ll again be eligible for minor league free agency.
Cole Irvin is in a different position. Recently named the IL Pitcher of the Year, Irvin set an IronPigs record for wins in a season (13) and has lost just four games this season. In 25 games – 24 starts – Irvin has posted a 2.67 ERA and has pitched 155 1/3 innings for Lehigh Valley. The 24-year old is a definite pitching prospect for the Phillies, so why don’t they just find a spot for him on the 40-man roster and bring him up in September, especially considering that the Phillies could use some
The clear reason comes back to the business side of baseball. The Phillies selected Irvin in the fifth round of the 2016 Draft meaning that they don’t need to protect him from being taken in the Rule 5 Draft this winter, so they don’t have to use a roster spot for him. With roster spots at an absolute premium, the Phillies aren’t likely to start the clock running on major league service time with Irvin until they have to or feel that he’s a definite fit to stick long-term in the majors. His lack of a 40-man roster spot is also the reason why b
The Phillies definitely need bullpen help and there are a couple of arms that could be in the mix if there were open roster spots. Pedro Beato, 31, is a veteran pitcher with just over two years of major league service time pitching for the Mets, Red Sox, Atlanta and last year, pitching in one game with the Phillies. In 85 MLB relief appearances, Beato has a 4-2 record with a 4.31 ERA. He’s set the IronPigs mark for saves in a season last year with 33 saves and is likely to break the mark again this season, needing just one save in the final five games. He’s posted a 3.23 ERA in 60 relief appearances with the IronPigs this season.
Left-hander Tyler Gilbert, a 24-year old, has had ups and downs this season but overall has put up some pretty good numbers for Lehigh Valley. He’s made 23 relief appearances and is 3-1 with three saves and a 3.58 ERA. Left-handed hitters are batting just .147 against him while righties have hit him at a .247 pace this season with Lehigh Valley.
As big of a season as Meneses has had for Lehigh Valley, Dean Anna may have been more consistent at the plate this season. Like Beato, Anna is 31 and has some major league service time having played 12 games with the Yankees in 2014 and one game with the Cardinals the following year. He hit just .130 in 26 plate appearances, but is hitting .278/.370/.346 with Lehigh Valley this season and earlier this year had a 22-game hitting streak, the second longest in Pigs history behind the 23-game mark that Scott Kingery set last August.
With the love of positional flexibility that the Phillies have, Anna is the perfect fit. He’s played a considerable amount of games at short, second and third and has legitimate time in left and right in left and right field and has even played a few games at first.