LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - The free-agent market has been a pricey place to acquire pitching.
The Phillies opted for a name on the bargain bin (Roberto Hernandez) in an effort to bolster their rotation. They used yesterday morning's Rule 5 draft to acquire what they hope translates into a diamond in the rough for the bullpen.
The Phillies selected righthander Kevin Munson with the fourth overall selection in the Rule 5 draft.
Munson, a reliever who turns 25 next month, was 2-4 with a 4.12 ERA and 14 saves in 53 games between Triple A Reno and Double A Mobile for the Arizona Diamondbacks organization in 2013. He struck out 66 and walked 22 in 54 2/3 innings.
"He's a power reliever, a two-pitch power guy," Phillies scouting director Mike Ondo said. "A big fastball with a hard slider. He's a guy that can create some depth in our bullpen. Get him in the mix. In the past he's been capable of giving you a two-inning outing. He's also a guy that can come in with that stuff and get a strikeout."
As a Rule 5 pick, Munson must stay on the 25-man roster for the duration of the 2013 season or be offered back to the Diamondbacks.
The Phillies also selected a player from the Diamondbacks in last year's Rule 5 draft, outfielder Ender Inciarte, but took him off the roster in early April and Arizona got him back. In previous seasons, the Phils took reliever David Herndon and infielder Michael Martinez in the Rule 5 draft and were able to keep them in the organization all year.
Munson has a chance to stick simply because the Phillies do not have many proven options in the bullpen beyond closer Jonathan Papelbon, lefthander Antonio Bastardo and the newly acquired Brad Lincoln. Veteran setup man Mike Adams, who had shoulder surgery on July 31, isn't likely to be ready for Opening Day.
Munson will join a long list of relievers competing for jobs that includes near-lock Jake Diekman, Justin De Fratus, B.J. Rosenberg, Mike Stutes, Phillippe Aumont and Jeremy Horst. According to Ondo, Munson has a fastball that tops out at 95 mph and sits consistently in the 93-94 range.
"I know the ERA was high, but the walks were down in Triple A," Ondo said. "And his strikeouts were still there. He started getting more ground balls in Triple A. We saw him both places this year, and we've seen him in the past. We've liked the arm in the past. The way he's progressed, we figured we take a chance on that stuff."
The Phillies lost two players in the Rule 5 draft. Righthander Seth Rosin, originally acquired from the Giants in the Hunter Pence trade, was chosen by the New York Mets while infielder Jonathan Roof was selected by the Boston Red Sox in the minor league portion of the draft. Rosin then was sent by the Mets to the Dodgers.
Phillies outfielder Domonic Brown, who makes his offseason home in Florida, already has been working out in Clearwater in preparation for the 2014 season. Brown has been working with hitting coach Steve Henderson.
Upon meeting up with Henderson recently, Brown got some friendly ribbing from the coach.
"I can't believe you're still here!" Henderson said to Brown.
"They're trying to build around me," Brown answered. "I saw Ruben's quotes."
Ruben Amaro Jr. relayed the story yesterday. Brown has been the subject of trade rumors throughout his professional career, including within the last month.
Amaro said he'd probably speak with Brown at some point about it, but added it's simply part of the business of baseball.
"You have to have thick skin, unfortunately," Amaro said. "Everyone has been there. If you're a good, young player, it's going to happen. With Bobby Abreu it happened. We sat him down and said, 'We're not trading you.' "
Of course, the Phillies did eventually trade Abreu, so . . .
Amaro said he will continue to scan the trade market in search for available outfielders. The Phillies would like to add athleticism in the outfield, particularly in the form of a righthanded hitter capable of playing centerfield . . . Amaro said the Phillies did not make an offer to veteran pitcher Bartolo Colon, who received a 2-year, $20 million deal from the New York Mets . . . The Phillies' coaching staff will be in Philadelphia next week for meetings.