Who would've guessed Erik Kratz would be October's best ex-Phillie?

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Who would've guessed Erik Kratz would be October's best ex-Phillie?

Baseball has a way of turning the most anonymous player into a star in October.

On Sept. 3, the Cubs were five games ahead of the Brewers in the NL Central. Cole Hamels took the mound that night in Milwaukee and pitched well, allowing two runs in six innings to lower his ERA to an even 1.00 in seven starts with the Cubs.

At that time, who would have ever guessed that a month later, Erik Kratz would be the former Phillie making the biggest playoff impact?

Kratz, the journeyman catcher who spent 2011 through 2013 in the Phils' system and came back for a second stint in 2015, was key for the Brewers in their NLDS sweep over the Rockies. He went 5 for 8, breaking open Game 2 with a two-run single in the eighth inning and going 3 for 4 in the Game 3 clincher. 

He also caught two shutouts.

At 38, Kratz became the oldest position player to make his postseason debut since 1905. He had three more hits in the NLDS than he had in the majors in all of 2017. 

"If you told me 16 years ago that I'd be here today I wouldn't have changed the path that I took," Kratz told after Game 3. "I never gave up. I've been blessed every day to be in this situation."

Kratz's story is one of perseverance. He was a 29th-round pick. He didn't make his MLB debut until the age of 30. He has never had a multi-year contract. 

And yet here he is, playing an integral role for a Brewers team that is hotter than any in baseball. 

Kratz has always been an extremely likable guy. And although he's just a .211 lifetime hitter with a .258 OBP, he does have 30 home runs and 32 doubles in 868 plate appearances. There aren't many above-average offensive catchers in starting roles, let alone backup roles. Out of a backup catcher, most teams typically seek power and defense. 

Kratz has both. He's also regarded as a very good pitch-framer, something this current Phillies regime is obsessed with.

In a Chase Utley-less postseason devoid of rooting interests for Phillies fans, Kratz is definitely a guy to cheer for.


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Phillies could lose lefty reliever Tyler Gilbert, catcher Deivi Grullon in Rule 5 draft

Phillies could lose lefty reliever Tyler Gilbert, catcher Deivi Grullon in Rule 5 draft

LAS VEGAS — The winter meetings will conclude Thursday (noon EST) with the Rule 5 draft.

This is the event in which the Phillies once landed Shane Victorino and Dave Hollins. It is how they lost MVP George Bell. It is how the Pittsburgh Pirates landed Roberto Clemente in 1954.

The draft works this way: A player must be added to his team's 40-man roster after his third or fourth year in pro ball, depending on the age at which he signed his first pro contract. If he is not protected, he can be selected by another club for $100,000. That player must then be added to the new club's 40-man roster and stay there all season or be offered back to his old club for $50,000.

In anticipation of the Rule 5 draft, the Phillies added three young prospects to their 40-man roster in November — pitchers Edgar Garcia and Adonis Medina and middle infielder Arquimedes Gamboa. All three of those players will be in big-league spring training camp in February.

Notable players who were not protected and are eligible to be selected in the Rule 5 draft Thursday include outfielder Jose Pujols, catcher Deivi Grullon and lefty reliever Tyler Gilbert.

Pujols, who turned 23 in September, was the Florida State League player of the year in 2018. He hit .301 with 18 homers, 58 RBIs and a .887 OPS in 95 games at Single A Clearwater. However, he struck out 127 times in 352 at-bats. It might be difficult for him to survive on a big-league bench with that many strikeouts.

Grullon, a rugged 22-year-old, hit .273 with 21 homers, 59 RBIs and a .825 OPS in 90 games at Double A Reading. Catching is a premium position and Grullon has impressive power. There's a chance he could be selected. If he is not, he will likely be in Triple A with the Phils in 2019.

A number of baseball people think the Phillies could lose Gilbert because he profiles as a lefty specialist and could more easily be stashed in the deep bullpens that teams carry these days.

Gilbert, who turns 25 this month, was the Phils' sixth-round pick in 2015 out of USC. He had a 3.25 ERA in 48 games at Double A and Triple A in 2018. He struck out 69 and walked 15 in 69⅓ innings and lefty batters were just 15 for 89 (.169) against him.

The Phillies have the 13th pick in the draft, but it's not clear if they will make a selection.

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At The Yard Podcast: Scott Boras talks Bryce Harper, Philly with Jim Salisbury

At The Yard Podcast: Scott Boras talks Bryce Harper, Philly with Jim Salisbury

On this edition of At The Yard, Jim Salisbury talks 1-on-1 with Scott Boras in Las Vegas at the winter meetings.

Boras discusses the potential fit between Bryce Harper and the city of Philadelphia.

What is the relationship between Boras and the Phillies organization? Also, is an extension in the works for Rhys Hoskins?

1:00 - Boras on Harper's potential fit in Philadelphia.
7:00 - Boras' relationship with the Phillies?
9:30 - Corey Seidman's initial reaction of the interview.

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