MLB Rumors: Could Justin Friend Contribute on the 2013 Philadelphia Phillies?

By Cody Swartz

The Philadelphia Phillies seem to have a slew of mid-twenties players in the minors that are tearing it up at the Double-A or Triple-A level: Darin Ruf, Tyler Cloyd, and now Justin Friend.

Friend was arguably the most dominant relief pitcher in the entire league at the Double-A level, where he posted a 0.23 ERA in 39.2 innings pitched for the Reading Phillies, and even his 2.42 FIP was terrific. Friend allowed just 24 hits, which comes out to a pretty nice .181 opponents’ batting average. He didn’t give up a single home run, while posting a 0.983 WHIP and a 9.3 strikeout rate.

Friend spent the majority of the season in Double-A, save for a brief stop in Triple-A in the middle of the summer. Friend was hit relatively hard in Triple-A, where he posted a 4.40 ERA and a 1.674 WHIP, but he was also torched for a ridiculous .408 batting average on balls in play. Friend is 26 years old already after having spent six seasons in the minor leagues, and it’s worth calling him up to the big leagues to see if he can play at the top level of baseball.

The Phillies have a bucketful of players fighting for spots on next year’s bullpen. Jonathan Papelbon, Michael Stutes, Antonio Bastardo, and Kyle Kendrick are pretty safe bets, but after that, there are a ton of open spots in which relievers like Jake Diekman, Jeremy Horst, Michael Schwimer, Phillippe Aumont, Justin De Fratus, B.J. Rosenberg, Raul Valdes, and Justin Friend will compete for spots.

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