NEW YORK — The triple-A Lehigh Valley team won its final six games to sneak into the International League postseason and create a bit of an unexpected scenario. That forced the Phillies to juggle their minor-league rosters. The IronPigs made 13 transactions Wednesday morning to prepare for their best-of-five series against Scranton, a Yankees affiliate, that begins in Allentown.
The IronPigs will attempt to win that series without three-fifths of the rotation that helped push them down the stretch. Thomas Eshelman, Jose Taveras and Brandon Leibrandt were all shut down because they had reached innings limits.
That means the IronPigs will use a rotation that includes five pitchers with a total of four starts at triple A this season. Righthander Drew Anderson, a member of the 40-man roster, will start Game 1. Lefthander Elniery Garcia, another 40-man-roster player, will start Game 2. Then it'll be Jacob Waguespack, an undrafted righty who began 2017 at high-A Clearwater; Henderson Alvarez, who made three starts for Lehigh Valley after leaving independent ball; and Franklyn Kilome, a righthanded prospect who pitched at Clearwater for most of the season.
The postseason will provide a good test for the young arms.
Lehigh Valley added Mark Appel, activated from the disabled list after missing two months with a shoulder ailment, to its bullpen. Victor Arano, who missed half the season with an elbow injury, was promoted. So were infielders Mitch Walding and Malquin Canelo. They could form the left side of Lehigh Valley's infield for the postseason.
Eshelman, 23, reached 150 innings in his second full professional season. He had a 2.40 ERA. Taveras, 23, captured the organization's strikeout crown for the second straight season. Leibrandt, 24, had a 3.63 ERA in 136 2/3 innings — his first full season after shoulder surgery. Both Taveras and Leibrandt are eligible for selection in this winter's Rule 5 draft if they are not added to the 40-man roster. Same for Kilome.
IronPigs play-by-play man Matt Provence noted the incredible turnover with this fact: The 25-man postseason roster features just eight players who began the season with triple-A Lehigh Valley.