The Phillies recently agreed to minor league deals with reliever Jesús Cruz and corner outfielder Dustin Peterson, according to their transactions log at MLB.com. It’s unclear if either will get a non-roster Spring Training invitation.
Cruz, 27, is a 6’1″ right-hander with eight MLB appearances to his name. Seven of those came last season for the division-rival Braves, as he worked 8 2/3 innings of low-leverage work. He allowed six runs (including a trio of homers) with four walks and six strikeouts before losing his 40-man roster spot at the beginning of August.
Things went better at the Triple-A level, where the Mexico native showed interesting swing-and-miss stuff. Cruz punched out an excellent 32.2% of batters faced in 28 outings with the Braves’ highest affiliate in Gwinnett. That came with a lofty 13.2% walk percentage, the continuation of longstanding control problems he’s shown throughout his career. Cruz has walked 13.4% of opponents in parts of five minor league seasons.
Erratic as his strike-throwing is, he’s shown the ability to miss bats at the upper levels of the minors. Cruz averaged just under 95 MPH with his heater and around 87 MPH on his slider during his limited MLB look in Atlanta. He’ll add a reasonably strong arm to the Phils’ bullpen depth chart, likely to open the season at Triple-A Lehigh Valley. He still has a pair of minor league option years remaining, meaning Philadelphia could send him back and forth between MLB and the minors if he secures a 40-man roster spot.
Peterson is a former second-round pick of the Padres who has limited MLB time as a member of the Braves and Tigers. He played in 19 games between the two clubs from 2018-19, collecting 10 hits and two walks in 49 plate appearances. The 28-year-old has spent a decade in the minor leagues, hitting .261/.319/.364 in just under 3700 trips to the plate.
The right-handed hitter opened the 2022 campaign with the Brewers on a minor league pact. After just three games, Milwaukee traded him to Philadelphia. Peterson spent the rest of the season with the IronPigs, posting a .244/.318/.379 line with nine homers across 102 contests. He made a favorable enough impression on the organization to get another minor league opportunity and could play a similar depth role during the upcoming season.