If you haven’t noticed my review of International League teams has gone alphabetical, well I’m going to let you know now. It is. We are now on to our beloved Ironpigs. The Pigs in 2009 finally got us to .500 but never surpassed that level. They had a good finish to the season and got close but finished at 71 wins and 73 losses. Take one loss, make it a win and we’re .500 for the season but it just wasn’t in the card last year.
Looking ahead we have a lot of competition for jobs here in the minor leagues. Competition breeds a higher level of play and that’s just what Ironpig fans need and want to see. With offseason moves and free agents coming in this could go down to the wire.
Catchers - Expect a battle here. Paul Hoover re-signed, John Suomi is back and the young Tuffy Gosewisch had some time in AAA last year. I’m thinking Hoover and Suomi to start with Gosewisch coming up later in the year.
1st Base - No brainer here. If Andy Tracy isn’t DH’ing, he’ll be on the cold corner this season. With Cervenak and his average fielding off to the Mets, Tracy should see more DH time this year.
2nd Base, Shortstop, 3rd Base - This is where it gets tricky. With J.J. Furmaniak signing with Tampa Bay and no news on Terry Tiffee we have some prospects but noone familiar to the average Pig fan. Vying for some time in the Ironpig infield in 2010 are:
Wilson Valdez – Split time with Columbus, Buffalo and NY Mets in 2009.
Luiz Maza – Career minor leaguer.
Melvin Dorta – Played for Norfolk in 2009
Cody Ransom – Spent 2009 with the NY Yankees backing up Alex Rodriguez
Neil Sellers – Spent 2008 and 2009 with Reading Phillies
Tagg Bozied – Bozied split time in 2009 playing in Taiwan and Indianapolis
Now all these guys have talent. No real prospect value but these guys will play hard and put on a good show. With little room to advance to a healthy Phillies club they will be digging dirt at Coca Cola Park this summer.
Outfielder - What a selection of outfielder the Pigs have this year.
Rich Thompson – 3 year Ironpig veteran and fan favorite will likely be relegated to a platoon position.
John Mayberry – Also a returning Ironpig, Mayberry has a legit shot at making the Phillies roster to ride the bench. I don’t think the Phils will take away from his development and we should see him at CCP most of the season. I have this feeling when Domonic Brown comes up to AAA, John Mayberry goes to the Phillies.
Domonic Brown – Considered the Phillies top overall prospect, this guy is incredible. Stopping at Reading last summer I saw him lauch a ball over Route 61 in right field and he has an absolute cannon for an arm. This guy needs to be competative and get that fine tuning that AA is known for. Might be a later season call up, but if the Pig’s are overloaded on outfielders he might skip the Pigs and find himself warming up to replace Jason Werth in 2011.
Mike Spidale – A great guy who has taken hold in the city of Reading, Spidale will most likely see most of his season there. We might see him if injuries or call ups bring the Pigs up short but otherwise a high energy player with a positive attitude and hustle.
Dewayne Wise, Brad Wilkerson, Freddy Guzman – These guys have been around the Major Leagues are looking to get back. I have a feeling, just call it a feeling, that if they don’t make the Phillies 40 man roster that they will either be released or opt to retire. Wise is known for his defense, Wilkerson has spent his fair share of time in the show and the speedy Guzman would provide a lot of excitement on the basepaths.
Expect to see Brian Mazone back in 2010. Also we are most likely to see Drew Carpenter and Antonio Bastardo in the rotation. Kutztown University alumni Ryan Vogelsong looks to add himself to the roster in a bid to make a come back.
Mike Stutes – Spent 2009 in Reading going 8-8 with a 4.26 ERA. He appears to be on a fasttrack and should earn a trip to the Lehigh Valley in 2010.
Vance Worley – Another 2009 product of Reading should make a few appearance for the Pigs when they are in a bind for starting pitching. He rates higher as a prospect than his numbers show, but he needs work to get his body accustomed to the long season.
Joe Savery – Savery was red hot at Reading last season and earned a trip to the Lehigh Valley midseason. He will be back, oh yes, he will.. be back.
With bullpen struggles last season we really depend on who the Phillies send our way. Scott Mathieson will most likely be in the Phillies bullpen next season. If he doesn’t get there for Opening Day the Pigs should have him until he is needed. It’s just a matter of time. Look for B.J. Rosenburg to answer the call for a closer this season.