A look at some rooks who could help 2012 Phillies

Justin De Fratus struck out 56 batters in 41 innings at Lehigh Valley in 2011. (David M Warren/Staff Photographer)

We know this is the first day of free agency, but, as we pointed out earlier in the week, things tend to move at a snail's pace when players hit the open market.

We'd love to report that the Phillies have offered Albert Pujols a bazillion, gazillion dollars to come to Philadelphia.

Instead, we're going to discuss rookies.

Who's ready to help at the big-league level obviously influences what a team will do in the free-agent market and the greatest strength in the Phillies' farm system last summer was relief pitching.

Lefty Antonio Bastardo (6-1, 8 saves, 2.64 ERA), in his first full big-league season, was obviously sensational last season and Michael Stutes (6-2, 3.63) played a huge relief role as a rookie.

It would not be surprising if at least two rookie pitchers played a role in the Phillies' bullpen next season.

The most likely rookie candidates right now are righthander Justin De Fratus and lefty Joe Savery, both of whom, received a September look after strong minor-league seasons. De Fratus, 24, and Savery, 25, did nothing in their brief big-league stints to discourage the enthusiam they had created in the minors.

The same could not be said for righthander Michael Schwimer, who struggled with his command and posted a 5.02 ERA in 12 big-league appearances after a sensational season at triple-A Lehigh Valley.

An off-the-radar reliever whose stock keeps rising is 24-year-old lefty Jacob Diekman. After a strong season at double-A Reading, Diekman has continued to impress while pitching for the Scottsdale Scorpions in the Arizona Fall League.

In eight games with the Scorpions through Wednesday, he had allowed one hit and struck out nine in 8 1/3 scoreless innings. The red flag is his five walks, but if he can get a handle on that, he could become a heck of a story since he was a 30th-round draft pick.

The other AFL Phillies player with impressive numbers is infielder Cody Overbeck, who was hitting .280 with a .410 on-base percentage through 15 games. Darin Ruf, meanwhile, has displayed some power, hitting three home runs and driving in 11 runs in 15 games despite a .212 batting average. Both men have the same problem: They are first basemen who would be considered defensive liabilities at any other position.

We know there was no mention of Domonic Brown here and that's because he will not be a rookie in 2012. If general manager Ruben Amaro Jr.s stated plan comes to pass, he will not be a Phillie either. We promise there will be plenty of discussion about Brown between now and the first pitch of the 2012 season.