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Phillies stockpile arms by adding four minor-league pitchers to 40-man roster

Left-hander JoJo Romero leads a group of four pitchers, including three lefties, who were added to the Phillies' 40-man roster before Wednesday night's deadline.

Phillies pitcher JoJo Romero faces the Detroit Tigers during a spring training game in 2019.
Phillies pitcher JoJo Romero faces the Detroit Tigers during a spring training game in 2019.Read moreYONG KIM / Staff Photographer

In setting their 40-man roster prior to Wednesday night’s deadline, the Phillies loaded up on arms — left ones, in particular.

The Phillies added minor-league lefties JoJo Romero and Garrett Cleavinger and right-hander Mauricio Llovera to the roster, thereby protecting them from being picked in next month's Rule 5 draft. They also acquired minor-league lefty Cristopher Sanchez from the Tampa Bay Rays for infielder Curtis Mead and put Sanchez on the roster, which stands at 39 players.

Also notable, however, were three players who were left unprotected: former first-round pick Cornelius Randolph, $4 million international signing Jhailyn Ortiz, and catching prospect Rafael Marchan.

Randolph and Ortiz, in particular, have struggled in four minor-league seasons and will be available in the Rule 5 draft. If selected, though, they must remain on a big-league roster all of next season or be offered back to the Phillies.

Given the Phillies need to remake their pitching staff, they appear to be attempting to build depth by stockpiling potentially promising arms. Cleavinger, for instance, is a hard-throwing lefty who exhibited better command en route to a strong finish (2.25 ERA in the second half) at double-A Reading.

Romero, 23, has the most triple-A experience of the group. But the 2016 fourth-round pick struggled last season at Lehigh Valley, posting a 6.88 earned-run average in 13 starts.

Llovera, 23, recorded a 4.55 ERA in 14 appearances (12 starts) at double-A Reading last season before missing the final month with an elbow injury.

Sanchez, 22, posted a 2.26 ERA and 73 strikeouts in 75 2/3 innings last season between three minor-league levels in the Rays’ system.