Anthony Contreras

Veterans dominate likely IronPigs roster

The official roster for the Lehigh Valley IronPigs is not out. Looking at the candidates that the Phillies have to pull from though, it’s easy to see the “veteran presence” that the team will have. Years back, Lehigh Valley manager Dave Huppert referred to these types of players as “whores for hire,” which set off a bit of a clubhouse storm, and rightly so. New Lehigh Valley manager Anthony Contreras is the new guy on the block as far as managers go and he is looking much more favorably on veteran players and what they can do to make the transition for him and younger players, much easier.

“I think on the pitching side, we are pretty well set,” said Contreras in what type of roster makeup he expects to see. “It’s more on the position player side where we are still finalizing the order and things like that and it’s all based off of how things are going and how things will shape up the next three days.”

One of the young guys who figures to be a part of the Lehigh Valley rotation is right-hander Hans Crouse, who came to the Phillies along with Kyle Gibson in last season’s trade with the Texas Rangers. The 23-year old Crouse made two starts for the Phillies last season, pitching to a 5.14 ERA and lasting a combined seven innings. Nerves likely impacted his control, leading him to walk seven batters in those innings after averaging 3.6 walks and 10.4 strikeouts per nine innings last season between Double-A and Triple-A in both the Phillies and Rangers organizations.

“He’s a special individual and a different cat on the field and off the field,” said Contreras of Crouse. “When you get to know the guy he is a tremendous human being and he just has a different way about him; the way he prepares, the way he pitches, the way he acts and everything, but it’s what makes him the person he is and I just want him to be himself out there.”

Crouse is one of just four pitchers who figure to be on the Lehigh Valley roster and are 25 or younger. Brian Marconi (24), Braeden Ogle (24) and Jack Perkins (24) are the other youngsters likely to pitch for Lehigh Valley.

It is likely there will be three catchers at Lehigh Valley with Rafael Marchan opening the season on the IL, leaving Donny Sands and Edgar Cabral to split time behind the plate. Rising prospect Logan O’Hoppe figures to be playing everyday at Double-A Reading to open the year, but he will likely rise to Triple-A at some point.

Nobody can say for sure if Bryson Stott will open in the majors or at Lehigh Valley, but either he or Alec Bohm will be an IronPig in 2022. The other – most likely Bohm – will be playing everyday at third base for the Phillies. That arrangement would give Stott more time to work out at third base and potentially at second base, as well to increase his value to the Phillies.

“I honestly don’t know where Bryson will be. I can tell you this, he’s not in that locker room right now,” said Contreras of the top Phillies prospect. “He works hard at what he’s doing and has the right attitude, but it’s not up to me where he plays, that’s a decision for the Phillies to make. Certainly, his goal is to play in the majors, so that’s my goal for him and if he starts there, that’s great and if now, we will do everything we can here to help him reach that goal.”

Veteran outfielders John Andreoli and Justin Williams figure to be members of the Lehigh Valley IronPigs with 23-year old Simon Muzziotti probably patrolling the grass at Coca-Cola Park, as well.

“When I looked at the roster, there was one thing that I was very happy to see in that we have guys like Aaron Barrett (infielder), Drew Maggi (infielder) and Andreoli around,” Contreras noted. “These guys have been around and they are all in their 30s and have all been around the game and have had a taste of the big leagues and been up there. The biggest think for me right now is just getting to know all of these guys personally and learning how they operate daily.”

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