Who deserves the call?
Which Lehigh Valley players could be summoned to finish season in Philly?
A group of four Lehigh Valley players went into manager Gary Jones’ office moments after the team was bounced from the International League playoffs on Sept. 8, 2018, by rival Scranton/ Wilkes-Barre for a third consecutive season.
Three walked out happy to get the news they were hoping for. The fourth had played his last game of the season.
For a Triple-A player, there is nothing like being summoned to the manager’s office to find out you’re a September call-up. Conversely, not much is worse than being told you’re not being promoted to the majors for the final month of the regular season.
That day is approaching for the IronPigs.
They are playing in Pawtucket on Aug. 31. Some players will get good news after that game ends, especially considering they are not in the IL playoff picture and the Phillies are entrenched in a dogfight for a National League postseason berth, which would be their first since 2011.
The 2018 Phillies, who were in a free fall from mid-August on, had a full complement of 40 players for September. It’s hard to believe they won’t be close to that number case again this season.
It seems unlikely the organization will promote two highly regarded Double-A players, shortstop Arquimedes Gamboa and starting pitcher Adonis Medina.
Gamboa has hit a combined .202 with 230 strikeouts and 39 extra-base hits in 820 at-bats spanning the 2018-19 seasons in Clearwater and Reading plus the 2018 Arizona Fall League. Medina has a 10.18 ERA and 1.036 OPS against in his last five outings and a 4.96 ERA
overall this year for the Fightins.
It seems safe to assume the nine IronPigs on the 40-man roster will be in Philadelphia at some point in September: pitchers Austin Davis, Enyel De Los Santos, Jerad Eickhoff, Edgar Garcia, J.D. Hammer and Cole Irvin; plus position players Maikel Franco, Jose Pirela and Nick Williams.
All but Pirela have been in Phillies pinstripes at various points this season.
That leaves six spots, though each would require a 40-man roster move.
Two maneuvers would be to shift Adam Morgan (left flexor strain) to the 60-day injured list and promote Drew Anderson (right elbow) and put him on the 60-day IL. He hasn’t pitched since June 23.
Those moves could open the door for utility player Phil Gosselin and catcher Nick Hundley, who was signed Aug. 13 and has hit .118 with eight strikeouts in six games.
The Phillies are hoping that outfielders Roman Quinn and Jay Bruce plus reliever Seranthony Dominguez will return from injuries at some point in September.
If you include those last five names, the Phillies’ roster would be at 39.
IronPigs reliever Fernando Salas (right elbow) would have received consideration, but has not pitched since Aug. 3.
Here’s a look at some other names who have earned the opportunity to earn big-league money in September (listed in alphabetical order):
LHP Tyler Gilbert: He has allowed earned runs in only four of his last 15 relief appearances and is growing increasingly comfortable and consistent with his new “out” pitch, a curve-slider combination. Utilityman Andrew Romine: Respectable slash line (.291/.341/.407 with 20 stolen bases (in 23 attempts). Hard to believe he has not gotten one call-up this season. Corner infielder/outfielder Austin Listi: He started the year batting .069 in 17 games at Double-A Reading, then had a 1.119 OPS in his final 19 games before being promoted. The 2018 Phillies minor league player of the year stayed hot with Lehigh Valley, then battled his way out by hitting .409 in the nine games before Wednesday’s game. Utility player Ali Castillo:
The 30-year-old was a roster filler in Reading to start the year. After batting .373 in 16 games, he earned a promotion to Lehigh Valley — where he’s hit .310 in 99 games.
He’s played six positions, including pitcher, and played hard every inning of every game. If the organization ever wanted to throw a player a bone — and send a message to others in the system — Castillo deserves it.
Lineup change: OF Nick Williams was pulled from the Wednesday’s lineup two hours before game time for an unspecified reason. He didn’t take batting practice and was not in the IronPigs dugout for the game.
Up next: LHP Jo Jo Romero (3-3, 7.31 ERA) faces Syracuse RHP Harol Gonzalez (3-0, 3.09) in a 7:05 p.m. start.
Morning Call reporter Tom Housenick can be reached at 610-820-6651 or at thouse[email protected]
Lehigh Valley IronPigs batter Ali Castillo prepares to lay down a bunt against the Norfolk Tides during a game earlier this season.
Enyel De Los Santos is among nine IronPigs who are on the Phillies’ 40-man roster and figures to be added to Philadelphia’s active roster for September.