It’s been a succession of low-profile moves by Ruben Amaro, Jr. after the Phillies signed Jonathan Papelbon to a lucrative deal after the 2011 season crumbled.
One of those transactions was the Phillies parting with Jim Thome last summer. The aging power hitter with the balky back couldn’t play first base. The Phillies dealt the future Hall of Famer to Baltimore for a pair of prospects, catcher Gabriel Lino, 19, and right-handed pitcher Kyle Simon, 22.
Each of the farmhands has an upside and the latter was one of seven minor leaguers invited to Citizens Bank Park for a prospect seminar. Simon was on the fringe with the O’s. He was 2-8 with a 3.96 ERA as a starter in the Carolina league.
However, the Phillies moved Simon to the bullpen and the results were dramatic. He went 3-0 with a 1.26 ERA in seven appearances with Clearwater and 1-0 with a 1.42 ERA in 13 appearances with Reading.
“I like the ‘pen better,” Simon said. “It’s more relaxed. With relieving, you get in and get everything you want on the table. I like to pitch under pressure.”
Out of the seven farmhands in for the prospect seminar, Simon may be the first to reach the majors.
“The Phillies see me getting to the big leagues the quickest out of the bullpen,” Simon said. “I ended up dominating in Reading and Clearwater.”
Simon, who measures 6-foot-5 with a wicked sidearm delivery, is brimming with confidence. He hopes to add to his game by spending time with Roy Halladay during spring training. Not a bad idea. Former Phillies starter Vance Worley noted how much Halladay helped his game with useful instruction.
“We [Simon and Halladay] have similar type sinkers and sliders and cutters,” Simon said. “I really want to develop what he’s got.”