PROJECTED STARTERS (ALPHABETICAL):
Dave Bush, 32, re-signed with the Phillies this off-season after signing as a minor league free agent with the club in mid-August last year. Bush was on the Texas Rangers 2011 Opening Day roster before being released in early July after posting a 5.79 ERA in 17 games. With the IronPigs, Bush went 3-1 with a 3.91 ERA in four regular season starts and earned the win in the IronPigs' first-ever playoff game last season (6.2 ip, er). The 32-year-old was a mainstay in the Brewers' rotation from 2006-10 and holds a career record of 56-69 with a 4.70 ERA in eight Major League Seasons.
Tom Cochran, 29, was signed by the Phillies this off-season after a successful 2012 with the Cincinnati Reds top farm club, the Louisville Bats (AAA). A native of Wilmington, Del., Cochran was initially selected by the Boston Red Sox in 2003 although spending parts of five seasons in the Independent Leagues before getting back into affiliated baseball in 2009. Last season, Cochran went 7-4 with a 3.55 ERA in 27 games and 12 starts in the International League.
Scott Elarton, 36, has only pitched in 16 games the last three seasons with all of those appearances coming in 2010 in relief with the Chicago White Sox' top affiliate, the Charlotte Knights. The former first-round selection (25th overall) of the Houston Astros has pitched in 232 Major League games over parts of 10 seasons, posting a 56-61 record with a 5.29 ERA. Elarton's ML career has been marred by eight trips to the Disabled List. His last start was on July 24, 2007, as a member of the Kansas City Royals and his last full season was in 2005 with Cleveland, where he was an 11-game winner in 31 starts.
Austin Hyatt, 25, is expected be the lone "homegrown" starter among the IronPigs rotation to begin 2012. A former 15th-round selection by the Phillies in 2009, Hyatt has been named an All-Star at three different levels in his first three professional seasons. Last year, the 2011 Eastern League midseason All-Star went 12-6 with a 3.85 ERA in 28 starts for Reading. He also led the league with 171 strikeouts in 154.1 innings. The 25-year-old was named the 2010 Florida State League Pitcher of the Year, going 11-5 with a 3.04 ERA while striking out 156 in 124.1 frames for Clearwater (A). A native of Atlanta, Georgia, Hyatt played his college ball at the University of Alabama, where he was an All-SEC First Team selection his senior season.
Pat Misch, 30, joins the Lehigh Valley rotation after serving as a nemesis to the club in recent years as a member of the Buffalo Bisons. Misch has gone an impressive 5-1 with a 2.40 ERA in nine starts against the IronPigs since 2009. Last season, he went 8-9 and posted a 4.00 ERA in 22 starts for the Herd and also appeared in six games with the New York Mets (1-0, 10.29). The Northbrook, Ill., native was originally drafted in the seventh round of the 2003 draft by the San Francisco Giants and was signed by the Phillies as a minor league free agent this offseason.
PROJECTED RELIEVERS (ALPHABETICAL):
Phillippe Aumont, 23, enters the 2012 season ranked as the No. 5 prospect in the Phillies system according to Baseball America. Aumont was an integral part of the IronPigs bullpen in their 2011 playoff push, going 1-0 with a 3.18 ERA in 18 games while striking out 37 batters in 22.2 innings. Aumont began last season in Reading before earning a mid-season promotion and combined to post a 2.68 ERA (16 er, 53.2 ip) while holding opposing hitters to a .216 average across levels. The Quebec native was the 11th overall selection of the 2007 draft by Seattle before being traded to the Phillies organization in the Cliff Lee deal.
Jake Diekman, 25, a former 30th round selection by the Phillies in 2007, begins his first season with the IronPigs after an impressive 2011 campaign in Reading. The hard-thrower pitched to a 3.05 ERA in a career-high 53 games while striking out 83 hitters in just 65.0 innings. The southpaw held batters to a .199 batting average and was nearly unhittable against left-handers, who were just 9-for-91 (.099) against him. The Wymore, Neb., native carried his momentum into the prospect-laden Arizona Fall League, where he was named to the 2012 Top Prospects Team after logging a 0.79 ERA in 11 games for Scottsdale.
Jeremy Horst, 26, was acquired by the Phillies this off-season in a trade that sent utility INF Wilson Valdez to the Cincinnati Reds on Jan. 12. Horst made his ML debut with the Reds in 2011 and combined to go 0-0 with a 2.93 ERA in 12 appearances for the club during three separate stints. The left-hander was equally impressive in Triple-A, registering a 2.81 ERA in 36 relief appearances while allowing just 41 hits in 51.1 innings. Horst was originally selected by the Reds in the 21st round of the 2007 draft.
David Purcey, 29, signed with Philadelphia as a minor league free agent this off-season after spending the 2011 season with three different organizations (Toronto, Oakland and Detroit). Originally selected as the 16th overall pick in the 2004 draft by Toronto, Purcey began last season with the Blue Jays before being traded to Oakland in mid-April. After appearing in just nine games with the A's he was dealt to the Detroit Tigers, where he posted a 7.23 ERA in 19 games. Purcey, who was a starter for his first six professional seasons, led the IL with a 2.69 ERA in 2008 with Syracuse.
Brian Sanches, 33, returned to the Phillies organization this off-season after serving as a mainstay in the Florida Marlins bullpen each of the last three years. In fact, Sanches is just a year removed from setting career bests in ERA (2.26), appearances (61), innings pitched (63.2) and strikeouts (54). Originally drafted by Kansas City in the second round of 2002, Sanches was traded to the Phillies in 2004 and made his ML debut with the club in 2006. In parts of two seasons with the Phillies, Sanches went 1-1 with a 5.75 ERA in 30 games.
Michael Schwimer, 26, returns to the IronPigs bullpen after going 9-1 with a 1.85 ERA and earning a mid-season All-Star nod last year. His nine wins were second on the club and his 11.38 strikeout per nine innings ratio led all IL relievers. A former 14th round pick in 2008, Schwimer is a noteworthy 11-3 with 1.74 ERA in 63 career games with the IronPigs since 2010. Schwimer's standout season in the Lehigh Valley earned him his first-ever ML promotion on Aug. 17. In 12 games with the Phillies, he went 1-1 with a 5.02 ERA.
POSITION PLAYERS (ALPHABETICAL):
INF Andres Blanco, 27, was signed as a minor league free agent Saturday just two days getting released by the Washington Nationals. A slick-fielding infielder that can play multiple positions, Blanco was the youngest position player to ever appear for the Royals when he made his ML debut at 20 years and six days of age in 2004. A native Venezuelan, Blanco hit .277 with the Texas Rangers in 2010 and was a member of their post-season roster. He is a career .255 hitter in 235 ML games over parts of six seasons.
OF Domonic Brown, 24, looks to regain the form that once made him the top prospect in the organization according to Baseball America. Brown began last season on the DL with a broken bone in his hand and only managed to hit .252 with eight home runs in 97 combined games with the Phillies and IronPigs. The Zephyrhills, Fla., native had a stellar 2010 campaign between Reading and Lehigh Valley -- hitting .327 with 20 home runs and 68 RBI in 93 games -- earning the Paul Owens Award as the top player in the Phillies Minor League system and his first-ever ML promotion (July 28). Brown was initially drafted by the Phillies in the 20th round of the 2006 draft.
INF Kevin Frandsen, 29, was a key cog in the IronPigs offense last season hitting .303 in 77 games despite serving a 50-game suspension for performance enhancing drugs (ritalic acid). The San Jose, Calif., native set a Lehigh Valley franchise record with seven consecutive multi-hit games in 2011 and also delivered the game-winning RBI in the IronPigs first-ever, post-season victory. Over parts of five ML campaigns with the San Francisco Giants (2006-09) and Los Angeles Angels (2010), Frandsen has batted .243 in 568 games. Frandsen was originally a 12th round pick of San Francisco in 2004 out of San Jose State University, where he established the Spartans' all-time record with 246 career hits.
C Tuffy Gosewisch, 28, is coming off a career season with the R-Phils where he set career highs in hits (91), home runs (13) and RBI (66). Known for his defensive abilities behind the plate, the former Arizona State Sun Devil was named Best Defensive Catcher in the Eastern League by Baseball America in 2010. Gosewisch hit .200 in 16 games in his only prior stint with the IronPigs back in 2009. The 5-11, 180-pounder was an 11th-round pick by Philadelphia in 2005.
Perennial International League All-Star C Erik Kratz returns as the IronPigs backstop in 2012. The Telford, Pa., native set career highs in hits (103), home runs (15) and RBI (53) last season with Lehigh Valley and was named to his third consecutive IL mid-season All-Star squad. Interestingly, it was during the 2010 Triple-A All-Star Game at Coca-Cola Park that Kratz received word of his first-ever ML promotion. Kratz, 31, had spent parts of nine seasons in the Minor Leagues before appearing in nine games with Pittsburgh in 2010. He also received a September call-up last year, collecting two hits in a pair games with the Phillies. Kratz is a career .257 hitter with 92 home runs in 729 Minor League games.
OF Derrick Mitchell, 25, is slated to make his Triple-A debut with the IronPigs this season after a solid 2011 campaign with Reading -- setting career highs by hitting .265 with 19 home runs and 79 RBI in 135 games. The Paw Paw, Mich., native was a 23rd-round pick by the Phillies in the 2005 draft. In seven professional seasons, Mitchell owns a .244 career average with 63 home runs and 271 RBI in 582 games.
OF Luis Montanez, the third overall pick in the 2000 draft by the Chicago Cubs, signed with the Phillies as a minor league free agent this winter. After eight years in the minors, Montanez claimed the Eastern League Triple Crown in 2008 with Bowie hitting .335 with 26 home runs and 97 RBI in 116 games. The 6-1, 200-pound outfielder was promoted to Baltimore that season and became just the second Oriole in franchise history to homer in his first ML at-bat. The 30-year-old spent last season back in the Cubs organization where he hit .321 in 92 games with Triple-A Iowa and .222 in 36 games with Chicago. In 129 games over parts of four seasons, Montanez has a career .223 ML average with five home runs and 32 RBI.
INF Cody Overbeck looks to pick up where he left off last season after hitting a gaudy .415 over his final 20 games with the IronPigs. Overbeck, 25, began last season with Reading and was promoted to Lehigh Valley in mid-June. At the time of his promotion he was leading the Eastern League in HR (18), RBI (46) and runs (43). A prodigious power hitter, Overbeck has connected on 48 homers over the last two seasons. Overbeck was a 9th round selection by the Phillies in 2008 out of the University of Mississippi.
C John Suomi returns to the Lehigh Valley for his fourth season and provides the club with excellent catching depth to begin the season. Suomi has hit .254 in 61 games during portions of three prior seasons with the IronPigs dating back to 2008. The Toronto native was originally selected by Oakland in the 22nd round of the 2000 draft. He is a career .262 Minor League hitter with 51 home runs in 724 games.
OF Rich Thompson, the longest tenured IronPig and the franchise leader in a plethora of categories, returns for his fifth season in the Lehigh Valley. Thompson, 32, is one of the most popular players to have ever donned a Lehigh Valley IronPigs uniform and enters the 2012 season as the club's leader in stolen bases (127), runs (238), hits 425) and games played (439). Thompson excelled under Ryne Sandberg's tutelage in 2011, swiping a league-best 48 bases while scoring a IL-high 81 runs. In fact, his 48 steals were the most by a Phillies Triple-A farmhand since Bob Dernier recorded 72 in 1981. At the end of last season, Thompson's 435 career stolen bases ranked third among all active Minor Leaguers.
INF Joe Thurston rejoins the Phillies organization after signing as a minor league free agent late in March after having been by Houston. Thurston, 32, spent two years in the Philadelphia system, hitting a combined .291 with 14 home runs and 114 RBI in 2006-07 with Triple-A affiliates Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and Ottawa. He also appeared in 18 games with the Phillies, hitting .222 in just 18 at-bats. In 2011, Thurston spent all but one game with Triple-A New Orleans, hitting .300 in 126 games. A proven hitter, Thurston owns a career .294 average in 12 minor league seasons.
As announced earlier, the team will guided by manager Ryne Sandberg, hitting coach Sal Rende and pitching coach Rod Nichols.
The IronPigs official home opener at Coca-Cola Park is on April 5 at 7:05 p.m. against the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees. Single-game tickets, season tickets, mini plans and group tickets for the 2012 season presented by Capital BlueCross are now on sale.