CINCINNATI - The first Phillies player to step onto the field Monday before batting practice was a rookie lefthander from Humble, Texas. Daniel Stumpf, one of two Rule 5 picks to make the Phillies roster, surveyed Great American Ballpark.
"There's a lot of emotions," said Stumpf, 25. "I'm excited to show these guys what I can do."
The Phillies are just one of two teams (San Diego is the other) to carry two Rule 5 picks at the start of the season. It is rare for any Rule 5 pick to stick; an average of five per season have stayed on a roster for the whole season since 2006, according to Baseball America.
So what the Phillies are attempting to do is quite unusual.
Both Stumpf and outfielder Tyler Goeddel are Rule 5 picks. That means the Phillies must keep them on the active 25-man roster (or disabled list) for the entire season to retain their rights. If not, the players must be offered back to their original clubs.
Just three teams in the last decade have kept two Rule 5 picks for the duration of the season.
"They've both shown enough ability where they can be part of the future," manager Pete Mackanin said. "We're going to find out what we have going into next year. While we're doing that, we're hoping to win more games. We think Stumpf and Goeddel could add to that. If not, they're both young enough where we have something down the road, whether it's later this year or next year. It's hard to turn away young talent and that's what our goal is, to keep them."
Goeddel will platoon in left field with Cedric Hunter, at least to start the season, Mackanin said. The 23-year-old Goeddel was the first pick in last December's Rule 5 draft and at times looked overmatched in Grapefruit League play. The Phillies will try to limit his exposure to the rigors of everyday big-league life.
Stumpf had success in the minors against lefthanded hitters, and the Phillies could use him as a situational lefty. He could also pitch multiple innings. And, in the jumbled bullpen, anyone who shows some competency could quickly rise to more important roles.
Carlos Ruiz started his eighth opening day for the Phillies, but Mackanin said Cameron Rupp will receive the majority of playing time at catcher. Ruiz, 37, started 81 games last season. "If we keep him healthy and he plays less," Mackanin said, "I think we're going to get more out of him." . . . The Phillies, for a second straight opening day, had 16 players who were not on their initial roster a season ago.