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Phils in Winter Ball: Part Two

Last week we took a look at Phillies position players who saw action in the Dominican, Mexican, Puerto Rican or Venezuelan Leagues this winter. Today, it's the pitchers.

Name (League) W-L ERA G GS IP H BB K
Eude Brito (Dominican) 1-3 5.73 10 0 22.0 26 13 19
Gavin Floyd (Puerto Rican) 1-1 3.89 8 8 34.2 32 17 21
Yoel Hernandez (Venezuelan) 0-3 2.20 28 0 32.2 31 6 33
Aquilino Lopez (Dominican) 4-2 2.95 9 0 42.2 42 10 36
Travis Minix (Dominican) 0-2 3.68 8 5 29.1 39 9 19

The Phils' recent trade for Arthur Rhodes probably doesn't bode well for the chances of any of these players to break camp with the big-league club. Rhodes' assumption of setup relief duties pushes Ryan Madson to the rotation, worsening Gavin Floyd's chances at claiming a starter job this spring. And the addition of Rhodes, a lefty, to a bullpen already featuring southpaws Aaron Fultz and (like it or not) Rheal Cormier probably keeps Eude Brito at AAA to start the year. Still, it would be a surprise if the 2006 season plays out without one or more of Floyd, Brito, or Yoel Hernandez seeing time with the Phillies.

Floyd, of course, is the 2001 first-round pick whose rise to stardom took a detour through Paul Abbottville in 2005, as he compiled a 10.04 ERA in limited time with the Phils and a 6.16 mark with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Pitching in the Puerto Rican League, Floyd didn't really do much either to reaffirm his prospect status or deepen concerns that he's lost whatever he had. Though Floyd's 3.89 ERA in a league not considered one of the more competitive in winter ball is less than thrilling, reports are that team officials who scouted him were relatively pleased with the 23 year-old's performance. GM Pat Gillick reaffirmed last week that Floyd would have the opportunity to compete for a starting job. Even so, with Cole Hamels, Daniel Haigwood, Gio Gonzalez and Scott Mathieson all likely to begin 2006 at AA or higher, Floyd could find himself quickly overtaken within the system if he gets off to another bad start this spring.

Brito, the veteran minor-leaguer who turned in a couple good starts for the Phils late last season, was used exclusively as a reliever in the Dominican League this winter. His stats there--5.73 ERA, 39 baserunners allowed in 22 innings--seem to further support the notion that, for whatever reason, he's better suited for starting. He'll presumably join Floyd and Haigwood in Scranton's rotation this April.

Hernandez, Aquilino Lopez and Travis Minix, all dark-horse candidates to round out the Phillies' bullpen, probably helped themselves with strong winter ball performances. Hernandez in particular impressed with a 2.20 ERA and better than a strikeout per inning in the Venezuelan League, following a solid 2005 season for Scranton. Lopez, a mid-season from Colorado whom I think must have flipped the bird to every GM in the majors--given his performance over the last few years, it's not otherwise clear why this guy doesn't have a regular bullpen job somewhere--posted a 2.95 ERA with 36 strikeouts in 42 innings for Gigantes in the Dominican League.

Three more staff candidates, Robinson Tejeda, Julio Santana and Ricardo Rodriguez, also all made cameo appearances in winter ball, pitching less than 4 innings total each.