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A closer look at the minor league signings

1. Brian Sanches

He spent the first two years of his career with the Phillies, leaving the organization after 2007 to sign with the Nationals, where he played in 2008 before spending the next three seasons with the Marlins. He should have a good opportunity to compete for a spot on the Opening Day roster, as the Phillies' bullpen is largely unsettled after Jonathan Papelbon, Antonio Bastardo, Jose Contreras and Mike Stutes. Sanches has put up solid numbers while averaging 61 innings over the last three seasons -- 2.92 ERA, 7.8 K/9, 4.4 BB/9, 0.9 HR/9 -- but his fastball velocity has dropped steadily and last season sat 87-88 MPH. Still, he has a decent strikeout pitch in his splitter and also mixes in a slider. Although he does not project as anything more than a low-leverage, front-of-the-bullpen guy, he could give Manuel another batter-by-batter match-up option. Last season, he held righties to a .198/.271/.328 line with 34 strikeouts and 11 walks in 116 at-bats, while struggling mightily against lefties. At the very least, he'll give the Phillies some veteran right-handed depth at Triple-A that they did not have last season.

2. Raul Valdes

The 34-year-old lefty appeared in seven games in September for the Yankees, striking out eight and walking two with eight hits and two earned runs in 6 2/3 innings. But don't expect too much out of him as a potential lefty specialist: in 125 big league plate appearances, lefties have hit .322/.371/.565 with four home runs off of him. He's a soft-tossing lefty who relies heavily on his slider. Still, he has some big league experience and should provide depth at Triple-A.

3. Scott Elarton

He's one of the more recognizeable names on the list, but he is a reclamation project in every sense of the word. A former 17-game winner with the Astros way back in 2000, Elarton has not pitched in the big leagues since 2008. In fact, he has not pitched professionally since 2010, when he posted an 8.24 ERA in 16 appearances for the White Sox's Triple-A affiliate. No harm in taking a flier on the guy.

4. Kevin Frandsen

A positive test for Adderall derailed what had been a solid season at Triple-A Lehigh Valley last year. The veteran infielder, who will be 30 next May, finished the year hitting .303/.356/.412 with 10 steals and four home runs in 322 plate appearances for the IronPigs, despite the 50-game suspension for the positive test. His natural position is second base, but he can also play short stop and third.

5. Scott Podsednik

Foot issues sidelined him for most of the 2011 season. In 2010, he hit .297/.342/.382 with 35 steals for the Royals and Dodgers. He was an All-Star in 2005, when the White Sox won the World Series. If he is healthy, he could compete for a spot on the bench, especially if the Phillies do not end up signing another left-handed hitter. At this point in his career, he is probably more of a left fielder, but he has spent plenty of time in center as well.

All things considered, it looks to be a solid crop of veteran signings that should provide the Phillies with some good experienced depth at Triple-A. Keep in mind that this is only the first round of minor league free agents.


There were no indications that the Phillies were seriously pursuing David DeJesus, but the 31-year-old's signing with the Cubs means you can at least cross one outfield option off of your list. DeJesus, a .300 hitter two years ago who struggled last season in Oakland, signed a two-year, $10 million deal with a club option with the new Theo Epstein/Jed Hoyer regime in Chicago.