Pitchers Come and Pitchers Go for Phillies

Ranger Suarez pitching for the Lakewood BlueClaws early in the 2017 season. (Photo courtesy of the Lakewood BlueClaws.)

It’s all about the pitching. The Phillies on Monday announced that they had added right-handers Seranthony Dominguez, Franklyn Kilome and Jose Taveras, along with left-hander Ranger Suarez to the 40-man roster, which protected them from being snagged by another team in the Rule 5 Draft at next month’s Winter Meetings. In addition to adding the four pitchers, the Phillies claimed infielder Engelb Vielma from the Giants and placed him on the 40-man roster.

The Phillies had two spots open on the roster coming into the week and added three more. Pitcher Elniery Garcia was outrighted to Lehigh Valley, while pitchers Mark Appel and Alberto Tirado were designated for assignment.

The additions and subtractions leave the Phillies will a full 40-man roster.

Among the pitchers added to the roster, Taveras has reached the Triple-A level, while Kilome reached Double-A last season. Both Dominguez and Suarez pitched as high as High-A Clearwater.

Taveras opened the season at Clearwater and went 6-4 with a 2.38 ERA in 16 starts for the Threshers before being bumped up to Double-A Reading. The righty, who turned 24 earlier this month, made just two starts at Reading before being given a ticket to Triple-A Lehigh Valley when the staff there was thinned by call-ups and injuries. Taveras made seven starts with the IronPigs, going 3-1, 1.32. Overall, Taveras made 25 starts with a 9-6 record and a 2.22 ERA, striking out 140 batters in a career-high 154 1/3 innings. It’s likely that he’ll start the 2018 season with Lehigh Valley.

Kilome, 22, also opened the season with Clearwater and made 19 starts with a 6-4, 2.59 mark as a member of the Threshers starting rotation. His last five starts of the year were with Reading and he finished at 1-3 with a 3.64 ERA at the Double-A level to give himself a combined mark of 7-7, 2.83 and 103 strikeouts in a career-high 127 innings of work.

The 22-year old Suarez opened the season with Lakewood and made 14 starts before being moved up to Clearwater for the rest of the season. The lefty made eight starts with the Threshers, where he struck out 38 hitters in 37 2/3 innings of work, posting a 3.82 ERA with a 2-4 record. On the season, Suarez reached career-highs in wins (8), starts (22), innings (122 2/3) and strikeouts (128), while posting a 2.27 ERA, the best of his career for any season where he made 10 or more starts.

The Phillies had Dominguez at Clearwater for the full season, with the exception of two rehab starts with the Gulf Coast League Phillies. Dominguez left his start with Clearwater on May 13th with what was initially diagnosed as stiffness in his neck, but was later announced as shoulder stiffness. The Phillies did an MRI and found no structural damage and kept him sidelined until July 10 when he made the first of two rehab starts in the Gulf Coast League before returning to the Clearwater rotation on July 21st.

Dominguez turns 23 later this week and was a combined 4-4, 3.72 between the GCL and Clearwater, making 17 starts and two relief appearances. He struck out an impressive 82 batters – a career-high – in 67 2/3 innings on the season.

Vielma went to the Giants this past September when he was claimed off waivers from the Twins. The 23-year old reached Triple-A for the first time in 2017, playing in 87 games with Rochester where he hit just .206 with the Red Wings. Prior to joining Rochester, Vielma hit .287 in 34 games at Double-A Chattanooga. The switch-hitter is a career .256 hitter over six minor league seasons and is known as an above-average defensive player at both shortstop and second base. During his time in the minors, Vielma has played 466 games at short, 43 at second and 28 at third base since being signed as an amateur free agent by the Twins out of Venezuela in 2012.

Garcia was placed on the 40-man roster last November by the Phillies and he pitched well in spring training, but opened the year on the disabled list and was then suspended by Major League Baseball for 80 games when he tested positive for Boldenone, an anabolic steroid. Garcia, who turns 23 on Christmas Eve, made seven starts late in the season – two in the GCL and five with Reading – and went a combined 2-1 with a 1.47 ERA. Even while posting those strong numbers, Garcia struggled with his control, issuing 19 walks while striking out 13 in a combined 30 2/3 innings of work.

The Phillies acquired Tirado at the 2015 trade deadline when they shipped Ben Revere to the Blue Jays. Philadelphia also received right-hander Jimmy Cordero in that trade. Tirado is known for having a live arm, but struggles with control, having walked 259 batters in 391 1/3 minor league innings. The Phillies had hoped he would develop control as he matured, but this past season, he walked 60 batters in 77 1/3 innings. The 22-year old has a 25-12 record with a 3.47 ERA over six minor league seasons.

Mark Appel is the most interesting of the players removed from the 40-man roster. Appel was a key part of the trade that sent closer Ken Giles to the Astros almost two years ago, but just like when he was in the Houston organization, the number-one overall pick never flourished with the Phillies. This past season, Appel missed considerable time when he went down with a right shoulder strain in mid-July and didn’t return until the playoffs for Lehigh Valley. Appel, 26, posted a 5.14 ERA in 2017. His lowest ERA came in his first professional season when he had a 4.26 ERA in ten starts in A and Low-A ball for the Astros.

Chuck Hixson

Chuck has a wide and varied background in covering sports both locally and nationally. Living in the Lehigh Valley area of Pennsylvania, Chuck has the distinction of being the only person to have covered both the Lehigh Valley IronPigs and Lehigh Valley Phantoms in every season of their existence. Chuck began covering sports in 1998 when he was the first program director and morning host at WTKZ-AM in Allentown, Pennsylvania when the station switched to an all sports format. Chuck produced the stations coverage of the Allentown Ambassadors baseball team, which played in the independent Northeast League. From there, Chuck was the editor and writer of Pinstripes magazine, covering Phillies baseball. That led to Chuck founding Philly Baseball Insider in 2003. Chuck has done freelance work for national entities such as USA TODAY, CBS, FOX Sports, Washington Times and others.

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