The Phillies added 11 players to their 40-man roster on Friday, thus preventing them from being taken by another club in next month’s Rule 5 draft.
Three additional spots on the 40 opened up Friday when left-handed reliever Elvis Araujo was claimed off waivers by the Miami Marlins and right-handers David Buchanan and Jimmy Cordero were designated for assignment. Cordero, a hard-throwing reliever, was part of the return from the Blue Jays in the 2015 Ben Revere trade. He had arm troubles in 2016.
It’s rare that a team adds 11 players to its roster. The number of additions is reflective of the Phillies’ improved farm system and the club’s desire to hang on to as much young talent as possible as it continues its rebuilding project. Six of the players who were protected joined the organization in trades that have coincided with the rebuild.
“We’re trying to build the right way,” general manager Matt Klentak said. “We believed this talent was strong enough that it needed to be protected. Many of these young players could spend time in the big leagues at various points this season.”
Here are the players that the Phillies added to their roster:
RHP Ben Lively
Lively was one of the team’s first acquisitions when the rebuild began after the 2014 season. The Phils picked him up from Cincinnati in a trade for Marlon Byrd. He went 18-5 with a 2.69 ERA and a 0.928 WHIP in 28 starts at Double A and Triple A in 2016. He turns 25 in March.
OF Dylan Cozens
The hulking, 6-foot-7 left-handed-hitting slugger led all of minor league baseball with 40 homers at Double A Reading in 2016. He was the Eastern League MVP. He needs to improve his plate discipline and work against lefty pitchers, but his potential is off the charts. The 22-year-old Arizonan lines up to play at Triple A in 2017 and could be the Phils’ rightfielder of the future.
LHP Elniery Garcia
He impressed by going 12-4 with a 2.68 ERA in 20 games (19 starts) for Single A Clearwater in 2016. A native of the Dominican Republic, he turns 22 in December.
RHP Nick Pivetta
The Phillies acquired Pivetta from Washington for Jonathan Papelbon in the summer of 2015. He pitched his way to Triple A in 2016 and was a combined 12-8 with a 3.32 ERA in 27 starts at Double A and Triple A. A British Columbia native, he turns 24 in February.
RHP Mark Appel
The much publicized, two-time first-round pick came to the Phillies from Houston in the Ken Giles deal last winter. Surgery to remove a bone spur from his right elbow ended his season at Triple A in May. Though he hasn’t met expectations, Appel, 25, still has high-end stuff and loads of potential. The Phillies are still hoping he puts it all together as a starter or reliever.
OF Nick Williams
Williams becomes the fifth prospect from the Cole Hamels-to-Texas deal to make it onto the Phillies’ 40-man roster, joining pitchers Jerad Eickhoff, Jake Thompson, Alec Asher and catcher Jorge Alfaro. Williams sputtered in his first season at Triple A in 2016 and finished with an on-base percentage of just .287 while striking out 136 times and walking just 19. Phillies officials are quick to point out that Williams played the whole season at age 22 and still has much offensive upside, which the club hopes to see as he returns to Triple A in 2017.
C Andrew Knapp
The 25-year-old switch-hitting catcher had a big season at Double A in 2015 and moved to Triple A, where he hit .266 with eight homers, 46 RBIs and a .330 on-base percentage, in 2016. Knapp, the Phillies’ second-round draft pick out of Cal-Berkeley in 2013, can also play first base.
2B Jesmuel Valentin
Valentin, 22, plays a sound all-around game and hit .269 with nine homers, 52 RBIs and a .341 on-base percentage between stops at Double A and Triple A in 2016. He was the 51st overall pick in the 2012 draft by the Dodgers. The Phillies acquired him and reliever Victor Arano for pitcher Roberto Hernandez in August 2014. The club is high on Arano, who advanced to Double A in 2016 and is not yet eligible for the Rule 5 draft.
RHP Ricardo Pinto
He was the organization’s Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2015 and made the jump to Double A, where he had a 4.10 ERA in 27 games (25 starts), in 2016. He turns 23 in January.
RHP Alberto Tirado
A right-hander who turns 22 in December, Tirado was acquired in the summer of 2015 from Toronto in the Revere deal. Power-armed pitcher who struck out 102 in 64 2/3 innings. Could develop into a starter or back-end reliever.
RHP Drew Anderson
Power-armed right-hander who showed great promise at Clearwater as he made it back from Tommy John surgery in 2016. A 21st-round pick in 2012, he turns 23 in March.
Notable players who weren’t protected include outfielders Andrew Pullin and Carlos Tocci and pitcher Miguel Nunez. They are eligible to be selected by another club in the Rule 5 draft Dec. 8. Tocci was eligible last season and went unclaimed.
Klentak believes the Phillies could end up losing a player in the Rule 5 draft.
“That’s an unfortunate byproduct of having an improved system,” he said.
Having a full 40-man roster could impact the Phillies as the winter goes on because any addition would require a subtraction. Klentak said that would not stop the team from trying to improve, but he did say the roster situation would create “a challenge” in adding players. A full roster with so many young players could prevent the Phils from selecting a player in the Rule 5 draft.