We’ve known about some of the Phillies minor league signings that were officially announced Wednesday, but other names were added to the list. Of the 10 players signed to minor league deals that came along with invitations to spring training were four players who were in the organization last season and six from outside of the organization.
Pedro Florimon, Pedro Beato, Mitch Walding and Logan Moore were the four players re-signed by the Phillies. We knew about the signing of Florimon, Beato, Walding and Moore. Both Florimon and Beato saw time with the Phillies in 2017, although Beato’s time was severely limited to one short outing that ended with him being escorted off the mound by the team trainer. Florimon played well in a utility role and could win back the spot vacated by the departure of Andres Blanco, who is a free agent. Walding will likely begin the season at Lehigh Valley.
In addition to re-signing those four players, the Phillies also signed pitcher Steve Geltz, catcher Eric Fryer, catcher/first baseman/outfielder Matt McBride, infielders Will Middlebrooks and Heiker Meneses and outfielder Danny Ortiz.
McBride is an interesting signing, because he grew up only about five miles away from Coca-Cola Park, the home of the Lehigh Valley IronPigs. It’s most likely that McBride would be playing for Lehigh Valley at least for most of the 2018 season. The 32-year old was initially drafted by Cleveland in the second round of the 2006 Draft out of nearby Lehigh University and has played 92 games in the majors over parts of four different seasons. Most of McBride’s time was spent with Colorado and he was last in the majors with Oakland in 2016. McBride spent all of last season with Triple-A Nashville in the A’s organization and hit 10-49-.231/.229/.434 in 79 games with the Sounds.
Will Middlebrooks is a somewhat familiar name to baseball fans. The former Red Sox prospect played in over 200 games with Boston between 2012 and 2014 before being dealt to San Diego following the 2014 season. Middlebrooks, 29 played in 83 games with the Padres in 2015 and has also played in the majors for Milwaukee (2016) and Texas (2017), signing with the past two teams as a free agent. In 347 major league games over the past six seasons, Middlebrooks has hit 43-155-.228/.272/.391 and has worked primarily at third base, but has also played short, first and a couple of games at second base in his major league career.
Eric Fryer, 32, joins a fairly complicated catching situation with the Phillies. Jorge Alfaro is out of options and the team also has both Andrew Knapp and Cameron Rupp who have spent time in the majors, but both have options remaining. Moore has considerable time at Triple-A and with McBride available, Fryer makes six players for five spots, at most between the majors and Triple-A.
The veteran backstop has played for Pittsburgh, Minnesota, St. Louis and Pittsburgh in his career. In 159 games, Fryer has just two major league home runs and 27 RBI. He’s a career .232 hitter with a .320 on-base percentage. He has thrown out 23-percent of would-be basestealers, just below the league average of 27-percent during his time in the majors. He has a career .992 fielding percentage behind the plate, which is right around the major league average. He’s played one game each in left and right field in his career.
Heiker Meneses has yet to reach the majors after 10 minor league seasons in the Boston and Minnesota organizations. The 26-year old was signed as an international free agent by the Red Sox out of Venezuela in 2008. In his career, he’s played mostly at shortstop (348 games) and second (301), but has also played third (154) and first (3) in his career. Offensively, Meneses is a career .245 hitter with 15 home runs and 267 RBI and a .316 OBP.
Ortiz, who turns 28 on Friday, is another graduate of the Twins organization, having been drafted by Minnesota in the fourth round of the 2008 Draft and playing in the organization’s minor league system until 2016 when he signed with the Pirates. Ortiz reached the majors with Pittsburgh last season, playing in nine games with 13 plate appearances and hitting .083 (1-for-12).
As a minor league outfielder, Ortiz has a slash line of 106-511-.259/.301/.430 in 984 games.
The lone pitcher signed by the Phillies so far, is Steve Geltz, a 30-year old right-hander. Geltz last pitched in the majors for Tampa Bay in 2016 and went 0-2 with a 5.74 ERA in 27 relief appearances. Overall, he’s pitched in 110 major league games – including two starts – and is 2-9 with a 4.23 ERA and 99 strikeouts in 104 1/3 innings of work.
Phillies pitchers and catchers report to Clearwater on February 14th.