Look for the ‘Pigs bullpen to be almost completely revamped from the Pen of last year, with a number of free agent signings that have Major League experience. Although probably almost totally devoid of any big time prospects, the Lehigh Valley bullpen should provide the Phillies with some reliable depth if any of the relievers on the big club are down for a significant period of time.
32 year old Philadelphia native Mike Koplove, joins the organization with 222 games of Major League experience with a big league ERA of 3.82 and a WHIP of 1.31, both decent numbers. Koplove spent last year in the Dodgers organization, going 2-1 in 41 games for AAA Las Vegas. He had a 3.46 ERA and a WHIP of 1.12 in his 54.2 innings pitched, striking out 46 with 9 saves.
29 year old RHP Gary Majewski is a familiar name to Phillies fans, having pitched 229 games in the National League over the last 5 seasons. He had a difficult year with the Reds last year, going 1-0 with a 6.53 ERA in 40 appearances last year with an atrocious WHIP of 1.90. Majewski also through in 22 games for Louisville (AAA), going 2-1 with a 3.76 ERA. If Majewski can return to his 2005-06 form where he threw over 140 games at the Major League level with an ERA right around 4, this would be a very good depth pick up for the Phils.
Along the same path as Koplove and Majewski, comes 32 year old Dave Borkowski, out of the Astros organization, having appeared in 130 Major League games in relief over the last 3 years. Borkowski was 0-2 with a 4.25 ERA in 26 appearances last year for the Astros, with a high WHIP of 1.88. He threw in another 27 games at (AAA) Round Rock, going 2-2 with a 2.43 ERA and an impressive WHIP of 1.16.
Soon to be 31 year old, local product Blaine Neal may have the inside track on the closers position having saved 26 games last year for AAA Toledo. Neal was fantastic last year, going 1-0 with a microscopic 1.21 ERA and an equally impressive 1.10 WHIP. A very large, 6’5, Neal has consistently struck out a batter each inning in the minors. Neal last appeared in the Majors in 2005 with the Rockies, having amassed 113 appearances between 2001-05 in the Major leagues.
27 year old lefty Jake Woods pitched at Tacoma (AAA) in the Seattle organization last year, going 6-1 with a 4.08 ERA in 32 appearances. He had a WHIP of 1.42 to go along with 54 strikeouts in 64 innings. Woods was called up to the Mariners for a short while, going 0-0 in 15 games, with a very high 6.16 ERA. Woods showed a good deal of promise back in 2006 with the Mariners appearing in 37 games including 8 starts, goign 7-4 with a 4.20 ERA.
Joe Bisenius, 26, has been a mystery for the Phillies. He has fallen off the prospect radar screen a bit, with two consecutive difficult seasons in the minors. Bisenius was a combined 3-5 with a 4.66 ERA in 33 appearances between Reading and Lehigh Valley last year, with most of his success coming in Reading. His WHIP was a high 1.55 and he walked 42 and struck out 54 in 63.2 innings pitched. While he has very good stuff, he must show more consistency this year to reappear on the true prospect screen.
24 year old RHP, Scott Nestor, was acquired from the Marlins organization in the off-season and also figures to play a role in the ‘Pig bullpen. Coming off a difficult season in AAA last season, Nestor is hoping to reestablish the potential seen in years prior.
Finally, 29 year old Jason Anderson, was re-signed by the Phillies organization after putting up good numbers at Lehigh Valley last year. Anderson went 3-2 with a 3.89 ERA in 30 appearances (44 innings), giving the ‘Pigs some fairly reliable depth when needed. Anderson is not considered a prospect at this stage, however was a useful resource for a Lehigh Valley team in desperate need of innings last year.