“The future’s in the air
I can feel it everywhere
Blowing with the wind of change”
Even before Vincent Velasquez’ arm died Wednesday afternoon, I started to get the feeling that the winds of change would be blowing through the rosters of the Lehigh Valley IronPigs and the Reading Fightins this weekend. The draft starts tomorrow, and that’s usually about the time they start moving guys around a bit, and both teams will be returning home for weekend series.
First, with the roster packed to the gills at 25 after the addition of INF/OF Emmanuel Burriss (who accepted his assignment following his Phillies DFA) the IronPigs have no room for OF David Lough, who remains in some kind of “Option-Limbo” as far as I can tell. He’ll need to be activated in some capacity once the team returns from their tour of the deep South on Friday. This doesn’t allow for Carlos Alonso–who held his own rather admirably, despite adversity, in his first attempt at AAA–who deserves to come back from Reading.
Down in Baseballtown, as the Fightins do just that in Akron, Cuban free agent addition Osmel Aguila was added from Clearwater. Aguila is a 6-foot right-hander who hit .280/.384/.447 in the Cuban professional league and will turn 27 next month. If he’s going to make it, it has to be now–so he’s being pushed up the system after starting in Clearwater with a gaudy .083/.154/.083 over a small sample. Meanwhile, speedster Roman Quinn is battling hamstring issues of unknown severity–just when he was heating up, of course.
To make room–and in a somewhat puzzling move–the Fightins send Friday’s starter, John Richy, back to Clearwater.
So I’m going to ask some questions. Then I’m going to answer them. Let’s be clear in acknowledging that I neither make these decisions nor endorse them. I’m just guessing, for entertainment purposes:
Let’s start at the top. Do the Phillies need anything right now? What if Velasquez has to miss time?
I don’t think they’re ready to promote anyone from the IronPigs on merit just yet. Nick Williams is doing very well on the road trip, but I think they want to see a little more and see it for a little longer before they call him up for good. Then again, he’s been in right field for 6 of the last 7 games, which is just what I said would happen prior to his call. But, they just got Paredes, and I’m not sure they’re ready to end the Bourjos experiment just yet. Darin Ruf is hitting well, too, but that will be a need-based recall when and if it comes to that.
As far as Velasquez is concerned, they’re calling it a bicep strain for now. Zach Eflin has pitched very well, and would be “on-turn” to make Velasquez’ next start, if it comes to that. He’s pitching tonight, so watch to see if he gets pulled earlier than you’d normally do in a game. Likewise, watch to see if Buchanan is limited in any way in tomorrow’s lunchtime affair in Georgia, should the Phillies want a veteran arm.
If a DL stint is involved for Vincent, then a reliever could go up initially. It might be time for Edubray Ramos to get that call, because I’m not sure what more there is to do for him in AAA, except close. And, I don’t want to be the one to tell The Chief that he’s not the closer anymore, so…
What else is going to happen with the IronPigs?
I don’t think David Lough did anything wrong in his 30 appearances with the Phillies, and I think they’d like to keep him around. Plus, because he has the option on board, he can be shuttled if that becomes necessary. To make room for him, it might be time to say good-bye to a veteran like Nina or Venable, unless the pitcher move opens up a spot. I think Cedric Hunter stays, regardless.
What do we do for a starter if Eflin or Buchanan go up?
In the short term while in Georgia, Seve Gonazalez probably fills in the best he can. One of the other veteran bull-pen arms could be tapped to stretch out, a la Russell, perhaps Mariot or Herrmann. From Reading, I really like Nick Pivetta and he’s paid his dues at AA–I’m just not completely sure he’s ready. They still have our old friend Anthony Vasquez there–but he hasn’t looked terribly good in his last couple starts. They could also hit up the Independent Leagues for a starter as well. I think I read 2-3 weeks for Asher or Appel to be ready to return–best case scenario.
What the heck is going on in Reading?
Well, they can DL Roman Quinn retro-active if he’s not ready to go by Friday. That would be one way to open a spot. I’m not sure Richy made the flight back to Clearwater; I’m thinking it might have been just a paper move because he had just pitched and they didn’t want him out of commission for 7 days for a DL stint. However, there could be something for him to work on down there, I suppose. I hear there may be one or more guys ready to come up from Clearwater as well, although they may want to finish out the first-half schedule on the 16th, first.
Alonso looks like he’ll be there in Reading for a while–ostensibly to get more playing time, although he doesn’t appear in the lineup as often as I’d like. I think Alfaro, Cozens and Hoskins will stay put for this round of moves–the “Bash Brothers of Baseballtown” still have some things to work on and there’s no real room in Allentown anyway. Now is a good time to mention: I really think the Phillies want to take their time with guys. It’s one thing to challenge them, but another to have them struggle unnecessarily, and perhaps make the wrong adjustments to their games.
Do you have your eye on anyone in Clearwater, who might be ready for Reading?
Well, the thing is, I’m not sure there’s space–let along playing time–but I’ve got my eye on 2B prospect Scott Kingery and lefty starter Elniery Garcia. We’ll see.
So watch your Twitter this weekend; moves might be coming,