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The Phillies added four pitchers to their 40-man roster on Wednesday night, including Cristopher Sanchez, who was acquired in a trade with the Tampa Bay Rays.
Sanchez, 23, is a 6-5 left-hander from the Dominican Republic who pitched mostly at the Single A level in 2019. The Rays were out of room on their 40-man roster and believed Sanchez would be lost in next month’s Rule 5 draft so they peddled him to the Phillies for infielder Curtis Mead, a 19-year-old from Australia who played in the Gulf Coast League last summer.
Sanchez will come to big-league spring training camp in February, but he needs more development time in the minors as he has pitched just 1⅓ inning above the Single A level. Sanchez’ fastball can reach 97 mph. The Phils might have something if the lanky lefty can put it together.
The Phillies also added JoJo Romero, Garrett Cleavinger and Mauricio Llovera to the roster. Romero and Cleavinger are both lefties and Llovera is a power-armed right-hander. All three could figure in the big club’s bullpen picture at some point in 2020.
Romero, 23, was the Phillies’ fourth-round draft pick in 2016. He struggled as a starter at Double A and Triple A in 2019 but pitched well out of the bullpen in Arizona Fall League, giving up just one earned run in 10⅔ innings.
Cleavinger, 25, was a third-round pick by the Orioles in 2015. The Phillies acquired him for Jeremy Hellickson in the summer of 2017. Cleavinger has strikeout stuff – he punched out 83 batters and allowed just 32 hits in 51⅔ innings at Double A Reading in 2019 – but control is an issue as he walked 34.
Llovera, who turns 24 in April, has long impressed club officials with his power arm. He struck out 72 in 65⅓ innings at Reading in 2019.
Players added to the 40-man roster by Wednesday’s deadline cannot be selected in the Rule 5 draft at the winter meetings next month. The Phillies’ roster stands at 39.
The Phillies left a couple of notable young players unprotected. Catcher Rafael Marchan and power-hitting outfielder Jhailyn Ortiz will both be eligible for the Rule 5 draft. If selected by another club, they must spend the entire season in the majors. Both Marchan and Ortiz will play at 21 next season. Neither has played above the Florida State League and both are in need of more development time so the Phillies stand a good shot of hanging on to both.
Ortiz made headlines in the summer of 2015 when the Phillies signed him out of the Domincan Republic for $4 million. He has big power – 19 homers at Single A Clearwater in 2019 – but contact is an issue. He has racked up 297 strikeouts in 835 at-bats while hitting just .212 the last two seasons at the Single A level.