As early December approaches, minor league teams attempt to fill in their organizational holes and the Phils are no exception. First, they have re-signed a group of players including 1B Andy Tracy, P Jason Anderson, P Alex Concepcion and OF Rich Thompson. Having watched many a Lehigh Valley game last year, these are excellent signings from an organizational perspective. Tracy, although in his late thirties continues to be a team leader and a very positive presence in Allentown. He plays a very good first place and has consistenly placed among league leaders in HR’s, RBI’s, Walks, and On Base %. He also gives you some organizational depth in that he can give you a professional at bat from the left side if called upon at the major league level. OF Rich Thompson is a personal favorite of mine as he personifies the word “hustle”. The 30 year old Reading native had a cup of coffee in the bigs a few years back, but is now viewed as an organizational guy that does many things at an above average AAA level. Good speed, a decent bat, and excellent fielding. More than likely Thompson will be the 4th outfielder in a crowded Lehigh Valley outfield.
Right Handed reliever Jason Anderson was probably the most consistent pitcher in the Lehigh Valley bullpen last year, graduating from a middle inning “inning eater” to a late game stopper, even closer at times, whose ERA hovered mostly around 2 for the year. Again, Anderson isnt necessarily a guy who is going to help the Phillies, but will be a guy that helps Lehigh Valley become competitive. 24 year old Alexander Concepcion saw time as a starter in Reading, pitching effectively and was called up to Lehigh Valley for a short time, pitching mainly in relief. Concepcion has shown a steady progression through the Phils system and should be a main cog in either the Reading or Lehigh Valley bullpen this year.
Signed as a free agent was 31 year old Wilson Valdez who played primarily SS in the Mets system at AAA Norfolk last year, but has the versatility to play all over the diamond. Valdez hit .247 in 91 games in AAA last year and is a solid fielder. Both Miguel Cairo and JJ Furmaniak saw duty as SS last year for the ‘Pigs, and absent their re-signing which seems unlikel, Valdez looks to be the man for the ‘Pigs next year at SS.
Finally, 31 year old DeWayne Wise was signed as a free agent to a minor league contract out of the White Sox organization. Wise, an outfielder who is best remembered for an amazing catch saving Mark Buehrle’s perfect game this year has very good defensive skills but is limited offensively. He could land in Allentown, but Philly seems more likely for Wise who has in excess of 650 major league at bats, good speed and can play all three OF positions. As the Phils heirarchy has stated that they want to concentrate on defense, the Wise signing seems to be a likely result. Wise hit .225 with 2 HR and 11 RBI in 152 AB’s for Chicago last season.