Phillies’ up-again-down-again reliever Michael Schwimer posted a congratulatory message on Twitter to three Lehigh Valley IronPigs teammates on Thursday afternoon in relation to their promotions to the big league club. The three players mentioned were lefty hurlers Jake Diekman (pictured) and Raul Valdes as well as mulit-positional veteran Hector Luna.
Diekman, 25, has posted sparkling numbers dating back to last year. Over 16 combined relief outings in the Arizona Fall League and in Major League spring training this year, Diekman posted a 0.55 ERA with 23 strike outs and 7 walks. The Nebraska native followed that up by allowing just 1 earned run through 12 relief innings, while striking out 22 and walking just 3 batters with the IronPigs.
Diekman, a 30th round pick of the Phillies in the 2007 amateur draft, sports a fastball that reaches 95 MPH, a solid slider and a deceiving change up. He was ranked 18th on the 2012 PhilliesNation top prospects countdown.
Valdes was signed by the Phillies last October as a free agent and has big league experience with the Yankees and St. Louis. In 51 Major League games, Valdes has posted a 3-4 record with 4.58 ERA and a .265 batting average against. This season with the IronPigs, the Cuba native was 1-2 with 1 save and a 3.86 ERA while producing an impressive 26/1 strike out/walk ratio in 21 innings pitched over 11 relief outings.
The additions to the relief corps should help solidify a Phillies bullpen that has shown considerable weakness this season, serving up a Major League worst 5.59 ERA in 31 games. The struggles have gotten worse recently, as Phillies relievers have allowed 19 earned runs in 16 2/3 innings over the past six games, leaving no question that some changes in the bullpen were necessary.
Luna, who signed as a free agent for organizational depth this past off-season, is a career utility man, who has big league experience at every position besides catcher and pitcher.
Through 29 games this season for the IronPigs, the righty batting Dominican native posted a .274 batting average with 8 doubles, 1 triple, 1 HR and 12 RBI. The 32-year-old Luna has played in the Majors with St. Louis, Toronto, Cleveland and Miami.
The corresponding moves at the big league level seem to be the demotion of reliever Joe Savery, who was sent down after Wednesday night’s loss to the Mets, along with two likely additions to the team’s disabled list, namely Chad Qualls and Laynce Nix.
Jay Floyd is PhilliesNation’s minor league insider. You can check out more from Jay by visiting his site, PhoulBallz.com.