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Phillies designate Kevin Correia for assignment, more moves coming?

The Phillies have opened up three roster spots over the last couple weeks, and two in the last 24 hours. Is something up?

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

In the end, I think we'll all remember the Kevin Correia era of Phillies baseball for the laughs.

Less than 24 hours after designating Sean O'Sullivan for assignment, the Phils did the same with recent free agent signee Kevin Correia. He got blasted in his last start, giving up nine runs on 10 hits in just 3 1/3 innings against Atlanta, and had been scheduled to start against the Dodgers on July 9. Instead, his spot in the rotation will be taken by 22-year-old Severino Gonzalez.

Of course, the trade-off between the two is negligible. In five starts, Correia went 0-3 with a 6.56 ERA in 23 1/3 innings, with 14 strikeouts and eight walks. Gonzalez is 3-2 in six starts with a 8.28 ERA in 25 innings, with 25 strikeouts and five walks.

The only difference between the two pitchers is their age; Correia is 34, Gonzalez is 22.

But with the DFAs of Correia, O'Sullivan, and Ethan Martin a few days ago, the team suddenly has three more spots open on the 40-man roster.

What does this mean?

In the near term, Correia's spot will be taken by Gonzalez, who has struggled mightily in his own right. But what about Aaron Nola?

General manager Ruben Amaro indicated their 2014 first round draft pick was almost ready for the call to The Show, according to MLB.com's Todd Zolecki.

"He's close," senior vice president and general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said Monday. "He's still working on some things. He struggled through a couple of games. He hasn't necessarily been knocked around, but it hasn't been easy for him. He's still learning some things and dealing with more veteran hitters in Triple-A, which is a good test for him.

"I don't think he's that far away, but when he's ready he'll be here. Just because our rotation is very poor right now, it doesn't mean we're going to bring him to the big leagues for that reason. We're going to bring him when it's time for him developmentally."

In 16 starts between Reading and Lehigh, Nola is 10-3 with a 1.97 ERA in 16 starts. In 12 Double-A starts he has a 1.88 ERA in 76 2/3 innings, with 59 strikeouts and nine walks. And in four Triple-A starts, Nola has a 2.28 ERA, with 24 strikeouts and 5 walks in 23 2/3 innings.

In Baseball Prospectus' Mid-Season Top 50 prospect rankings out this week, Nola was ranked #7 overall. In Baseball America's Mid-Season rankings, he was #12. And according to Matt Winkelman of Phillies Minor Thoughts, he's ready to go.

S0 the question becomes, where does Nola go from here and when is he major league ready?  The answer to the second question is easier, because he was major league ready the moment he signed a pro-contract.  However, he has done a lot to really go from a ready to go #3 starter to someone with a more polished arsenal that really is a #2 starting pitcher.  This feeds into what does he still need to do.  He needs to keep executing his pitches and pitching games.  Nola has such an advanced feel for the game you can see him making adjustments to his pitching during the course of the game.  He can step into the majors right now and is rapidly running out of things to work on in AAA, but his time has been well spent and the Phillies have helped him become a real building block for the their future.

So Nola is ready, but it's likely he won't be seen until after the All Star Break. But get ready for him, it won't be long.

As for potential trades, it's probably a bit premature to think this is a precursor for an impending deal of some kind, but the recent flurry of DFAs is interesting and certainly bears watching.

In the meantime, it appears as if the Phillies are ripping up their various lottery tickets one at a time.