The Phillies have signed 34-year-old RHP Jason Grilli to a minor league contract. Grilli, who was the fourth overall pick in the 1997 draft, has spent most of his career as a reliever between Triple-A and Major League teams. Just a couple of weeks ago, the Phillies signed the first overall pick of that same draft, RHP Matt Anderson.
Having missed the entire 2010 season with a knee injury suffered in Cleveland Indians spring training, Grilli looks to get back in the saddle with the Phillies organization -- and there is a good chance that he will see significant time with the IronPigs.
Given that both Grilli and Anderson did not play at all in 2010, it is likely that the tandem will call Coca-Cola Park home for at least a portion of 2011 so long they survive Phillies spring training.
After signing his first professional contract, Grilli breezed through the Giants' minor league system in 1998 and climbed his way to Triple-A over the course of his first full season. In July of 1999, Grilli was part of a trade that sent him along with IronPigs pitcher Nate Bump to the Florida Marlins for starting pitcher Livan Hernandez.
Grilli made, and won, his major league debut on May 11, 2000, for the Florida Marlins - his only appearance that season in which he went 6.2 innings with four runs allowed en route to his first victory. In parts of eight Major League seasons, Grilli has combined to go 18-18, 4.74 and 2 SV in 238 G, 16 GS with the Marlins (2000-01), Chicago White Sox (2004), Detroit Tigers (2005-08), Colorado Rockies (2008-09) and Texas Rangers (2009). He also pitched for Team Italy in the World Baseball Classic in both 2006 and 2009.
International League fans may also recognize the name, as Grilli clinched the championship game for the Toledo Mud Hens over Indianapolis in the 2005 Governor's Cup.
Grilli's most recent appearance before sustaining his knee injury was in 2009 with the Rangers, having gone 2-2 with a 4.78 ERA over the course of 30 innings pitched.
The Baldwinsville, N.Y., native was originally drafted in the 24th round of 1994 by the New York Yankees, but chose to attend Seton Hall as opposed to signing his first professional contract. While with the Pirates from 1995-1997, Grilli once struck out 18 batters in a game to break former Cleveland Indian Charles Nagy's all-time Big East conference record.
Grilli's father, Steve, pitched for parts of four seasons in the late 1970s, including three with the Detroit Tigers (Jason has previously worn jersey number 49 in honor of his father). Steve is also familiar to IL fans as he was the losing pitcher for the Rochester Red Wings in the longest professional baseball game on June 23, 1981, at Pawtucket. He currently provides color analysis on Syracuse Chiefs telecasts.
Although the Phillies have what is arguably the best pitching in the major leagues right now, they have made a number of "low-risk" signings that could serve to bolster the IronPigs pitching staff in 2011. In addition to the possibility of having star prospects like Dominic Brown return to the IronPigs in 2011, the team will also enjoy the veteran presence that players like Grilli, Anderson and Bump may be able to provide.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.