The Phillies added four pitchers – three of them lefties – to their 40-man roster ahead of the deadline to protect players from being selected in the Rule 5 Draft. One of the pitchers, Cristopher Sanchez, was acquired from Tampa Bay just prior to the deadline and had to be protected. By adding the four pitchers, the Phillies 40-man roster now stands at 39 players. The Rule 5 Draft is scheduled for December 12th as a wrap-up to the Winter Meetings, which are being held in San Diego this year.
In addition to Sanchez, the Phillies added fellow left-handers JoJo Romero and Garrett Cleavinger to the roster along with right-hander Mauricio Llovera.
Romero struggled in 2019 and was dropped back to Double-A Reading after opening the season with Triple-A Lehigh Valley. The Phillies drafted Romero in the fourth round of the 2016 Draft out of Yavapai College in Arizona. The 23-year old made 13 starts with Lehigh Valley and pitched to a 6.88 ERA after seven starts when his ERA had reached 9.74 with the IronPigs. At Reading, he was 4-4 with a 4.84 ERA in his 11 starts. He returned to Lehigh Valley in late July and made six starts with a 3.86 ERA.
Cleavinger, 25, was acquired from Baltimore in July of 2017 along with Hyun Soo-Kim for pitcher Jeremy Hellickson. The Orioles had drafted Cleavinger in the third round of the 2015 Draft out of the University of Oregon.
With Double-A Reading, Cleavinger was 3-0 with a 3.66 ERA in 34 relief appearances this past season. Over five minor league seasons, he is 19-12, 4.08 in 140 relief appearances. He has struck out 12 batters per nine innings, but has struggled with control at times, walking 5.3 batters per nine innings in the minors. Cleavinger was part of the contingent that the Phillies sent to the Arizona Fall League in 2017 and he made 11 relief appearances and pitched to a 6.35 ERA in the AFL.
Llovera turned 23 this past April and spent the entire season at Double-A Reading where he made 12 starts and two relief appearances. Llovera was 3-4 with a 4.55 ERA and struck out 72 in 65 1/3 innings of work for the Fightins. Over five minor league seasons, he has a 3.45 ERA and has whiffed 9.7 batters per nine innings while walking three batters per nine.
The Phillies believe that Llovera has the velocity and the ability to harness his command to the point where he can be a solid middle or back of the rotation starter.