Joe Savery Designated Hitter?

Yes people it is true! Joe Savery was used as the team’s DH in the Clearwater Threshers game vs the Daytona Cubs. Savery was 1-3 at the plate with a sac bunt, two ground outs and a double in the game.

After not swinging a bat in a game for more than a year he was called on to do just that for the Threshers in the game on Friday night. NEVER in my 10+ years of going to minor league games in Clearwater has a pitcher been put into a game as the DH. Never even to hit for one single at bat.

I don’t even want to be the one that starts the rumor mill going, but either this was a desperate move by the Threshers’ manager for a team in last place or a calculated move by the Phillies office. Either this team has reached an extraordinary low or the Phillies front office may be shopping Joe Savery for a trade. Is that even possible?

I can’t believe that a minor league manager would be allowed to do this in the Phillies minor league system without some sort of up top approval.

Video coverage of last night’s game here.

P.S. The Clearwater Threshers had Andrew Carpenter bobblehead night tonight as well, and even that was messed up. The team name was misspelled on the bobblehead as the CLEARWATER THRESAERS.

About Jeff Crupper

It depends on which blog you are reading, but now now you have either discovered that I am a huge baseball fan, or that I have a twisted sense of humor and like to rant about just about anything. Whichever it is I hope you enjoy your stay and spread the word.

56 thoughts on “Joe Savery Designated Hitter?

  1. I’ll chime in. I have no real knowledge of what happened, but Im going to try and find out. My first thought was, Savery has had a long season, mentally he’s tired, and they thought maybe this would give him a jump start. Hes obviously a gifted hitter. There’s no way the manager would have authority to do this, it had to be okay’ed with the front office. I think there’s very little chance he’s being shopped.

  2. I would think there is very little chance that last year’s first round draft pick is being shopped either, but this was an extraordinary event. As I said, NEVER have I seen a pitcher bat even once in all of my years of going to games in Clearwater.

    It was a bizarre experience from the standpoint of a fan at the game. I had no idea what to make of it.

  3. Just a quick question..

    Lets say that pitching doesn’t work out for Savery.. What type of hitter would he be ?

  4. Anyone know if Carlos Zambrano ever DH’ed in the minors? I know the Cubs were talking about using him as a DH in games against the AL. I guess that would give confidence to your bench players, wouldn’t it?

  5. i wonder if this has anything to do with an arm injury concern.

    with all due respect, i don’t buy the theory that DH’ing a player gives him a jump start as a pitcher. if they wanted to do that, then i think that they should drop him a level and let him dominate the SAL. mow people down. make them look silly. they could use Meyers as an example so he doesn’t take it personal.

    that being said, even as a noted savery basher, i think that it is too early to give up on this guy as a pitcher (excluding any injury risk). when they drafted him they noted that he never concentrated on pitching and that is what they are going to do.

    however, wouldn’t it be interesting if they kept him at DH for a little while and he lit it up.

  6. Does anyone know for sure if blaine O’Brien is definitely going to college. I read where he has played a lot of baseball and has off the chart potential.

  7. I agree with PP. I think this would serve to light a spark under a guy, reminding him if he gets to the bigs he’ll be batting a lot.

  8. To be frank, I think this might just be some lineup desperation in Clearwater. They’ve been using a kid from GCL to play 1B and had to sign some guy named Gary Cates to play 3B who can’t hit a lick. Perhaps they were just shorthanded from a position play point of view and Savery volunteered.

  9. You really think the manager would have to get higher-up approval to use a pitcher as a DH? I can understand not wanting him to play a position, but surely just swinging the bat a few times a game isn’t going to hurt him. This isn’t Chien-Ming Wang, this is a guy who is used to hitting and running the bases.

  10. Wow! This is a lot of fuss over very little.

    The guy is looking for consistency and better command of his pitches, but IMO the Phils’ FO is plenty pleased with his likelihood to reach the bigs probably sometime in ’09.

    Remember, when he was drafted the Phils said that it’d take some time for him to catch up with other college pitchers who didn’t have to cope with arm surgery during their [short] college career. He recognized that in saying that he was looking forward to get some “real” professional pitching coaches to make him the whole pitcher he could be.

    Note: he was drafted from Rice whose past record is replete with pitchers having arm difficulties at/after their college tenure. Savery is still in “recovery” mode, but making very good progess.

    His arm strength and durability also are works in progress; this is his first full pro season.

    I see him competing with Hamels for the #1 spot w/in 1 1/2 yrs. Keep in mind: Savery is one terrific ATHLETE. He had an excellent hitting record at Rice so using him in that role as DH keeps him “in the game” while moving his pitching progress forward. His personality is one of drive, ambition, and determination with his superior work ethic; I bet he asked to DH to help out AND to have some hitting updating for himself.

  11. I remember the Yankees using Rick Rhoden as a DH back in ’87 or so. IMO it may have served two purposes, pending approval from the higher ups. First, it may have been a bit of a gimmick to get some fans interested in a team that is floundering – other than Cardenas, Savery is probably the marquee attraction on this club. Second, I think it may be a shot in the arm/motivational/reward type tool for him – i.e. “we know you really enjoy hitting, so howzabout we let you DH occasionally.”

    And if they are shorthanded, why not move some guys from Williamsport – Overbeck and Hamilton, while not lighting the world things up, are experienced college players who could probably handle the jump (and will probably be playing at Clearwater next year anyway)

    – Jeff

  12. Not to rile anyone up, but if Burrell leaves after this season and Howard leaves after 2011 or is traded beforehand, we will need a 1st baseman.

  13. once again the genius of trading or not signing howard is heard you know your watching the best 1st baseman EVER to play for the phillies, but i guess well just pick another one off the tree. amazing, how long have you been a baseball fan.

  14. **I see him competing with Hamels for the #1 spot w/in 1 1/2 yrs. **

    honestly, the only way you see that is if you are looking through rose colored glasses. there is nothing that he has shown in A ball to suggest he is close to being an mlb pitcher let alone a all-star caliber pitcher. it is great to be a fan, but you need to keep objectivity. right now, he is getting lit up. he had 2 decent games in the past 10 games pitched. let’s not get carried away. it isn’t like he is mowing the hitters down.

  15. right now, he is getting lit up. he had 2 decent games in the past 10 games pitched.

    Actually, he’s allowed four earned runs in his last 19.1 IP (1.86 ERA), with 14 Ks and 3 walks. For the year, he’s at 4.28, with better than a 2-1 K/BB ratio. Not a bad full-season debut for a guy who wasn’t a full-time pitcher until he was drafted.

    Savery’s gonna be fine. Probably not an ace, but a decent #3-4.

  16. Savery is pitching like a rotorooter. In his last two starts he has 10 k’s and a 3.83 AO/GO. Opponent just can’t get the ball in the air against him. He’s given up one earned run in his last 13.1 innings. Probably getting ready to jump him to AA or AAA where the pitchers hit against NL opponents. Bet he will back charting pitches tonight for a start tomorrow afternoon against Daytona.

  17. Hold up on the rumors and theories… There is a simple explanation for this. (I think) Joe writes a blog for MiLB.com. Joe invites questions to be answered on the blog. So, Monday I sent him an email. I asked him:
    1. Does he miss not getting a chance to hit everyday?
    2. Does he ever get a chance to work on his batting skills?
    3. Since he is preparing to pitch for an NL team… Why doesn’t Razor (Shines) let him pinch hit on days that he doesn’t pitch or chart?

    I didn’t get a chance to ask him last night if I had something to do with this. But, it seems to be a pretty big coincidence.

    So, in less I’m mistaken… He not changing positions, not being shopped or anything else. He just wants to keep the batting skills that he has. BTW… He laid down a perfect bunt and hit a nice shot in the left-center gap for a double as well.

  18. Off the Savery speculation topic for a second…

    Now Jesus Sanchez, the catcher acquired in the Abreu trade, has been sent back to GCL to learn, a la Wellinson Baez, to pitch.

    Pitchers hitting and catchers pitching…cats and dogs living together…what’s the world coming to?

  19. Phillychuck… When did this happen? I didn’t see Jesus out there this morning. (I know him. He used to be a neighbor.)

    BTW… If anyone is looking for a prospect to get excited about… Keep an eye on Zach Collier. He’s got the tools, focus and makeup to be the real deal. Phils have him playing in Left and Right. Also, Hewitt made his debut yesterday as DH, but listed as OF. He didn’t play today.

  20. guys – you can think whatever you want. but if you look at it objectively, savery is neither acting like a “rotorooter” nor having a very good year. in his last 10 games, he has had 3 quality starts, a 4.58 ERA and 1.61 whip. that is not good. now i know he had two good starts recently, but 10 ks in 13 innings is not blowing people away. top of the rotation starters blow people away in the minors. they don’t just get through innings. it is very clear that they are at another level. go back and look at hammels in the minors or other top pitchers. their numbers are insane. much better than even carrasco’s numbers (which are light years better than savery’s).

    this has been my issue with savery all year. he is not a top of the rotation guy. he just doesn’t have the swing and miss stuff right now. that doesn’t mean he sucks nor that we should cut him. just that we should re-adjust our expectations. best case scenario he is a few years away from being a back of the rotation guy (#4 or #5 starter). i think that he has Adam Eaton written all over him (who by the way also had very good minor league numbers). your expectations of him jumping a level this year are out of whack as are you assumptions that he will be even close to competing with cole hammels. these unrealistic expectations will only set you up for a disappointment. he ain’t goin no where this year and might very well start at A ball next year unless he dramatically improves at the end of this season.

  21. Johnfromphilly. You think we want howard to leave.The writers and others in print media have said going by the track record of this ownership.There is not a good chance they would pay over twenty million for any player. The phillies have quitely said things about his body type tends to wear down younger.By the way all you people who said lets bring up swindle do you see he isn’t a big league .pitcher now. You look at his aaa numbers and that’s all you see. He has nothing .

  22. For what it’s worth this question was asked of Ruben Amaro on the “Ask the GM” segment on the radio pregame today.

    Ruben’s response (my paraphrase) — “No big deal.” Sounds like they just wanted to get Savery some at-bats. He also stated they are not real concerned with Savery’s pitching numbers this year since he came back from his shoulder injury sooner than expected. He did, however, mention how good Savery was at the plate and this may benefit him down the road.

    Like any statement from Phillies management take this for what it is worth.

    Also Ruben was doing the pregame because everyone else is in Reading. Personally I found this bit of information more revealing because I suspect they are there to see more than just Myers and there are going to be some serious talks about possible moves during the break, especially after Eaton’s second clunker in a row.

  23. Jeff,
    I heard about the Sanchez thing this morning. He will probably leave Sunday since that is when Matt Rizzotti is rejoining the BlueClaws from the GCL where he played for a few games. Rizzotti is coming back from a broken hand.

  24. I think Savery should be allowed to hit more during the year. The minor leagues don’t have the pitcher batting very much (in the lower leagues, hardly at all), and he is such a great hitter, that I think they should let him continue to do it to “keep away the rust.”

    Besides, wouldn’t it be kinda cool to see a two-way major league pitcher in a couple of years?

  25. I REALLY was NOT trying to blow things out of proportion, but as I said…I had NEVER seen a pitcher hit in a game in the Florida State League. Not for any team EVER, and certainly never for the Phillies team.

    I was just so shocked by the event that I had to put something up here about it.

    It was probably nothing and I am turning it into more than it really is, but it certainly was an extraordinary event in my eyes at the time I saw it happening.

  26. I’m sure Savery DHing in one game is no big deal. I will note however that when I saw all the minor league pitchers take BP in spring training, one guy hit the ball out and that guy was Savery.

    No, they’re not close to trading him now. However, Jason Donald should probably pack….

  27. A few thoughts.

    1. Jeff was fine to start this discussion. Savery DH’ing is certainly newsworthy.

    2. We probably shouldn’t read anything into it, unless someone from the organization or Savery himself says that this is a sign of things to come.

    3. For some here, Savery could throw 10 straight CG’s, and he’d still be destined to flop as a prospect. Its best to just let things like that go and not get worked up over them.

    4. As for the notion that this wouldn’t have to be cleared with the higher ups, I disagree. If we’re talking about a minor league lifer or fringe prospect, maybe, but Savery is a 1st round pick that the team has already invested almost 2M into. You don’t just choose to DH him without getting approval.

  28. ****I REALLY was NOT trying to blow things out of proportion, but as I said…I had NEVER seen a pitcher hit in a game in the Florida State League. Not for any team EVER, and certainly never for the Phillies team.****

    I didn’t mean anything by my comment Jeff. It was a big surprise that they’d DH him and it was definitely news. I apologize if it was taken the wrong way.

  29. It’s hard for me to take PPFan’s Savery v. Hamels comparison seriously when he constantly misspells “hammels”…spelling counts – it’s like listening to someone on talk radio constantly mispronounce a player’s name. It’s a big shot to their credibility.

  30. John —
    Don’t take any meaning from brass being in Reading, other than watching Myers. Only the scrubbinees playes, with Donald, Golson, Marson in NYC getting ready for futures game.

  31. Hate to say it, but after giving us hope last season that his career was resurrected, Harman really looks like a scrubbinee this year.

  32. Savery is pitching a two hit shutout after 5 innings today. The only thing different from his normal outings is he has an equal number of 5 AO and 5 GO to go with 4 K’s plus a pick off at first. So far he is having a great July. I could see them moving J.D. Dubin back to AAA and Savery to AA.

  33. The Clearwater game’s over, and Savery put up the following line:

    8.0 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 8 K

    That makes his numbers over his last four outings (27.1 IP, 22 H, 5 BB, 22 K, 1.01 WHIP, 1.32 ERA) very impressive. Maybe it’s just an extended hot streak, but fingers crossed, he may be turning the corner a bit after a rough stretch in May and June.

  34. It’s nice to see Savery progress so well. The expectations of him at Clearwater have been enormous given his level of pitching experience. If you look at the last few performances – it’s just about what we expected when the season started, no? Yes, it took him a little while to get there, but he seems almost to be over the hump.

  35. let’s play, name that prospect. in his age 21 season, this prospect put up the following stats:
    – 28 games (13 in A+, 12 in AA and 3 in AAA)
    – Combined 3.34 ERA
    – Combined 1.29 whip
    – 127ks in 167 innings

    …that was adam eaton, a first round pick with very good “stuff” who turned out to be a back of the rotation guy. he showed in the minors, at a younger age, the ability to get outs, but not blow people away stuff.

    next prospect, at age 19:
    – 18 combined games across A and A+
    – 147k s in 101 innings
    – 1.34 ERA and 0.99 whip

    …that was cole hamels (tjc spelling is correct here). his stats are night and day different. it is clear that he is a top of the rotation guy. he is at a different league then the other people. go look at the minor league stats for all of the top of the rotation starters. they blow people away in the minors.

    now go back and compare to savery. even if you want to give him the benefit of the doubt and only compare to his most recent hot streak. savery is getting outs, but his k rate does not show top of the rotation, blow people away type stuff.

    honestly, i am very happy that savery is doing well. i hope this is the start of a great 2nd half. i hope he goes up to Reading next year and then on to Philly. i don’t have anything against the guy. God Bless! i hope he turns out to be THE Man and wins us a pennant. i just think that your expectations are too high and unfounded. i don’t think that he is anything more than a back of the rotation guy if he stays healthy. and that is a big if.

  36. A little back and forth if I may, PP Fan.

    Here’s another round of name that prospect. In his age 22 season, this prospect put up the following stats:

    — 28 games (18 in AA, 10 in AAA)
    — Combined 4.48 ERA
    — Combined 1.22 WHIP
    — 136 K’s in 185 innings

    That was John Lackey, who finished third in last year’s Cy Young voting, was an integral part of the 2002 World Series champs, and sports an ERA+ of 167 this year (and a career ERA+ of 119). And he certainly wasn’t blowing people away with those minor league numbers (his second full year of pro baseball, by the way).

    Next prospect. This time it’s college stats for this prospect’s age 19 and age 20 seasons:

    — 32 games
    — 2.54 ERA
    — 1.22 WHIP
    — 191 K’s in 180.2 IP

    That’s Joe Savery. You’ve stated that you don’t think Savery will succeed because he doesn’t have swing-and-miss type stuff; I think these numbers fly in the face of that logic. Now obviously these are his numbers from before his shoulder surgery, and there’s certainly a chance that Joe never gets that kind of raw stuff back. But the Phillies gambled on Joe with two things in mind: (1) that he would have that stuff back once he was fully recovered; and (2) that by committing to pitching full-time, he would improve immensely as a pitcher.

    Okay, final mystery prospect, and it’s related to my point #2 above. Here are the stats for another highly touted two-way college player. These are from his first full season in the minors at age 22 (and, obviously, this was his first full season as just a pitcher):

    — 30 games (8 in A+, 22 in AA)
    — Combined 3.92 ERA
    — Combined 1.42 WHIP
    — 152 K’s in 172.1 IP

    That was Tim Hudson, who interestingly enough, is similar to Savery in a lot of ways (two-way player, good athlete, groundball tendencies). Here are Savery’s numbers from this year after today’s gem, which I think correspond fairly closely with those above (granted, Joe’s are all from A+, but he’s also had the injury issue to deal with, which he should get some slack for):

    — 19 games
    — 3.97 ERA
    — 1.51 WHIP
    — 90 K’s in 111.0 IP

    Look, my point is this: obviously a prospect who puts up insane numbers like Hamels is bound to be an ace. But there are legitimate #3, #2 and (as I think I’ve just shown with the Hudson and Lackey examples) #1 pitchers out there who didn’t always overpower people in the minors. I don’t think anyone’s claiming that Savery’s going to be an ace, but if he continues to devote himself full-time to pitching, there’s no reason to think he can’t project as a very good #3 starter at the major league level — which is far better than a “back of the rotation guy.”

  37. Hey they may as well let him hit in a game now and then. He’s gonna have to do it when he makes the big leagues anyways…

  38. PhillyFriar – that was the best response to my questions on savery that there has been on this blog. you make some very sound points and may very well be correct. i hope that you are. let’s see how it plays out, but i would be extatic if savery turns out to be hudson or lackey.

    p.s. for those of you who think that i post too aggressively, i do it is solely to get to a deeper discussion. simply saying he looked good 4 years ago, or give the kid a chance, or questioning my logic because i misspelled a players name isn’t a good enough answer for me. this post was a great answer and PhillyFriar should get his props.

  39. Maybe the DH thing worked – helluva game for Joe S last night. 8 shutout innings, only 4 hits allowed, 2bb, 8k. The only nitpicky knock was that he didn’t have a high GA-AO ratio (7GA, 8AO)

    His ERA is now below 4 (and below 3 in his last 10 games)

  40. Thanks, PP Fan. Some may say I’m cherry picking numbers a bit, but I think the Hudson comparison especially is a legitimate one.

    The truth is that the vast majority of prospects never reach their potential, so Savery may be a long shot to ever become the solid #3 starter we’re projecting. But the fact is that the potential is most certainly there, and it just remains to be seen whether he can get there in time through focusing solely on pitching. Fingers crossed, right?

  41. I believe that some here–and maybe most here–are misconstruing Savery’s p[itching future, Though it is very early in his pro career, he IS a college pitcher albeit with limited pitching due to arm problems.

    That he is an exceptional athlete is not contested.

    Thr quotes emanating from him in interview squibs show him to be a grounded guy with maturity and who wants only to learn and refine his pitching skills. Remember that he was a lock to go very high in the draft before his arm problems at Rice.

    Add in that he throws ground balls [a big plus in CBP], can strike people out, and that he is that prized addition to any ML staff: a lefty pitcher.

    Finally, we are now seeing the result of the “professional pitching coaches” that he longed for when coming aboard with the Phils.

    IMO his “coming together” [assuming continued excellent progress] so soon, this being his first full pro season indicates just what a little more burnishing of this gem would bring.

    The so-far unsawed limb that I sit on says this guy and Hamels will be a great duo with the possibility that their intra-competition will be fun to watch for several years.

    To reiterate, I don’t mind offering this outlook. What a great Phils’s “happening” this will be….!!

  42. I used to live near Philly and I’m in Hawaii now. I saw Joe Savery’s last game (CWS) and (since the Phils had just drafted him) got him to sign a couple of balls for my kids. Nice guy to take the time to sign since Rice had just been eliminated. Have been trying to follow his career since and this blog is terrific. I appreciate the thoughtful comments. By the way, for those Phillies fans who live away from Philly, Slingbox works great for me. I watch almost all of the games.

  43. Savery was the DH on 14 July when Carpenter pitched. So a think this was the 2nd time he was the DH.

  44. its very nice to see, should quiet down a lot of the uneccessary joe savery flop talk…. he has a ton of talent, it just needs time to develop, and he is finally getting it…. I firmly believe we will see him in philly starting games sometime in the next three years for sure.

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