Phillies Prospects Get Winter Seasoning

Farmhands attend seminar in Philadelphia





PHILADELPHIA—The Phillies held their second annual prospect development seminar at Citizens Bank Park in early January. The two-day event offered reliever Justin De Fratus, a native of Southern California, the chance to touch snow for the first time in his life. He joked about making a snow angel in center field.

The seminar, overseen by director of pro scouting Mike Ondo, wasn't designed to give prospects a taste of the rugged Philadelphia winter. As De Fratus said, "It's about learning what it means to be a Phillie." Players listen to presentations from former major leaguers, club officials, media members and manager Charlie Manuel. This year, the Phils invited a handful of upper-level prospects getting ready to attend their first big league spring training camp.

"I'm ecstatic about it," reliever Michael Schwimer said of his invite to big league camp. "It's what I've wanted to do my whole life."

Among those inviteed to this year's event were four righthanded relievers—De Fratus, Schwimer, Michael Stutes and Chris Kissock. De Fratus was added to the 40-man roster in November. Schwimer and Stutes will be in camp as non-roster players. Kissock is slated to attend minor league camp after a nice showing in the Arizona Fall League.

With a bullpen approaching a possible transition stage, Phils officials clearly have their eyes open for righthanded relievers who could help in 2011 and beyond. As of mid-January, the team had not re-signed free-agent righthander Chad Durbin after a successful three-year run in the bullpen. Closer Brad Lidge could be a free agent after 2011 if the Phils don't pick up his option. Righthanders Ryan Madson and Danys Baez are both entering the final seasons of their contracts. So there could be opportunities for righthanders in the bullpen soon.

PHIL-UPS

• The Phils signed righthander Matt Anderson, 34, to a minor league contract. The No. 1 overall pick in 1997 has not pitched professionally since 2008. For more on Anderson, see Page 4.

• After a difficult season working as a starter, righthander Phillippe Aumont will move back to the bullpen in 2011, team officials said. Aumont was acquired from the Mariners in the Cliff Lee trade after the 2009 season.