Diekman Gaining Notice

Lefthander making impressions in big league camp





CLEARWATER, FLA.—Catching the pitching coach's eye early in camp doesn't guarantee a trip to the majors. But it's certainly better than the alternative.

Lefty reliever Jake Diekman was an early standout in big league camp.

"You've got to love Diekman's arm," pitching coach Rich Dubee said. "He's got a tremendous high ceiling."

Diekman, 25, was a 30th-round pick out of Cloud County (Kansas) CC in 2007. He was used as a starter his first two years in the Phillies system before converting to the bullpen in 2009. In 2010, Diekman made another change and shifted to a sidearm delivery.

"We thought it was best to help him get to the big leagues," assistant general manager Benny Looper said. "He's picked it up well and gained deception."

The delivery served Diekman well in Double-A in 2011. He held lefthanded hitters to one extra-base hit and a .099 batting average. He built on that success in the Arizona Fall League and allowed just three hits and one earned run in 11 innings.

Diekman walked 44 in 65 innings at Double-A last season, so his control still needs work. But he did strike out 65.

Dubee likes the power in Diekman's arm. His fastball can reach the mid-90s. His challenge is to gain consistency with his slider.

"He's a little tougher from where his arm slot is now," Dubee said. "But he's got some thunder, too. That's a nice combination."

It's unclear whether Diekman will open at Double-A or Triple-A, but he will get important innings that could one day lead him to Philadelphia.

PHIL-UPS

• Righthanded relief prospect Justin De Fratus was slowed early in big league camp by an elbow strain.

• The consensus in camp was that hard-throwing righthanded reliever Phillippe Aumont is the pitching prospect who's closest to being able to help in the majors. Aumont projects to open the season as Triple-A closer.