The Phillies announced a series of roster moves Tuesday, selecting the contracts of right-handers Connor Brogdon and Blake Parker. In corresponding 40-man moves, Philadelphia designated outfielder/former top prospect Nick Williams and right-hander Trevor Kelley for assignment. Right-hander Nick Pivetta was also optioned to Philadelphia’s alternate training site.
Williams, 26, was considered one of the game’s 100 best prospects for several years but has yet to put things together in the majors. The 2012 second-rounder went from Texas to Philadelphia as one of the centerpieces in the Cole Hamels blockbuster, but the club never seemed completely sold on his abilities. Williams fared reasonably well at the plate in 2017-18, hitting a combined .269/.330/.446 (105 wRC+ and OPS+), but defensive shortcomings overshadowed that respectable output at the plate.
Once the Phillies signed both Bryce Harper and Andrew McCutchen in the same offseason, the writing appeared to be on the wall for Williams. He stuck with the club through the 2019 season by virtue of the fact that he had a pair of minor league options remaining, but playing time was sparse — even after Odubel Herrera was suspended and McCutchen tore his ACL. Williams played in just 67 games and took only 112 plate appearances, batting a woeful .151/.196/.245 in that extremely limited role. A club looking for a low-cost outfield flier could do worse than speculating on Williams, but it’s also perhaps telling that he’s been a largely superfluous piece in Philadelphia for more than a year and has yet to be traded.
Kelley, 26, appeared in four games with the Phils this season but was tagged for four runs on eight hits and a walk in 3 1/3 frames. He’s appeared in the majors in each of the past two seasons — with the Red Sox in 2019 — but struggled in a small sample of games. The former 36th-round pick has a sharp minor league track record in terms of ERA, but he’s never missed a huge number of bats or demonstrated particularly strong control. The Phils plucked him off waivers when the Red Sox designated him back in December.
Turning to Pivetta, the 27-year-old is in his final option year and could well be running out of chances with the Phils. He’s long been praised for his raw abilities, but Pivetta has yet to demonstrate that he can efficiently command what appears to be a solid arsenal of pitches. He’s been prone not only to walks, hit batsmen and wild pitches, but also to the long ball.
At his best, Pivetta sits nearly 95 mph with his fastball, drops a curve with elite spin, generates swinging strikes at a strong 12 percent clip and averages nearly 11 punchouts per nine frames. However, those appealing traits are still accompanied by inconsistency and results that fall shy of what one might otherwise expect from a pitcher with his stuff. Philadelphia has tried him both as a starter and reliever, and he’s offered glimpses of his potential at numerous points without settling in as a consistent contributor.
As for today’s two new additions, Parker is a well-known reliever who spent half the 2019 season with the Phils. The former Angels and Twins closer has a mid-90s heater and a big splitter that can function as an out pitch when he’s at his best. Consistency has been an issue for him as well, but the 35-year-old has a career 3.56 ERA, 10.1 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 in 285 2/3 frames.
The 25-year-old Brogdon will make his MLB debut the first time he takes the hill. The Phillies’ 10th-round pick back in 2017, Brogdon skyrocketed across three levels last year, ultimately putting together a combined 2.61 ERA with 106-to-24 K/BB ratio (12.6 K/9, 2.8 BB/9) in 76 innings of relief.