The Phillies announced their 25-man roster last night and made sure that all the players knew were they were headed for the start of the 2012 season. As the list was coming through twitter, the very last name was the one that caught my attention: Joe Savery.
A year ago, that very same name was on the list of players at High-A Clearwater.
Savery is a LHP that will be trying to find a permanent home in the Phillies bullpen. It’s not that he’s made the roster, or that it’s probably just for a limited time that makes him the story of the spring. But the path that he took to get this chance.
Savery was the Phillies 1st rd pick (19th overall) in the 2007 draft (baseball-reference.) He was drafted to pitch and, well, he didn’t do too well in 2009 and 2010.
When 2011 Spring Training started, the Phillies were on the verge of cutting him, when he went to them and told them he would like to convert to a position player. He was a pretty decent hitter in college and would like to try it again.
The Phillies agreed. Savery converted.
He worked hard at hitting and excelled at it. While he was in Clearwater, he hit .307 with 2 homeruns. He showed potential.
But a strange thing happened while working on his fielding, his arm strength increased. While he was working on throwing balls from the outfield to home-plate, his long-toss became more accurate. But it was the conditioning to be a first baseman that helped his arm the most.
Though no one, especially not Savery, noticed.
No one, that is, until Savery was forced to pitch again.
The Clearwater Threshers had a 19-inning game and they ran out of pitchers, so they turned to their converted position player to help them out. And he turned heads, including his own.
Apparently the arm conditioning that an infielder does, is exactly what he needed to move his pitching career to the next level.
Savery was soon promoted to AA Reading, where he learned that he was going to be a pitcher again, but a reliever this time. Savery took it as a challenge and ran with it.
In 6 games with the Reading Phillies, Savery posted an ERA of 1.00 and a WHIP of 0.778. Numbers that quickly earned him another promotion to AAA Lehigh Valley.
Savery’s time with the Iron Pigs consisted of 18 appearances with a 1.80 ERA and a 1.160 WHIP.
His story does not end there, he was part of the September Call-ups and made his major league debut on September 20, 2011 against the Washington Nationals.
In the course of one season Savery went from a hitter in A+, to a pitcher in AA, then a pitcher in AAA and finally a relief pitcher in the Major Leagues.
That’s a lot of ground in one year! And he has a chance to prove his worth in the Majors, and I, for one, am hoping that he sticks.
Karilee Jeantet is Lead Contributor for A View From Section 116. Follow her on Twitter @kjeantet and @viewfromsec116 and e-mail her AViewFromSection116@gmail.com.