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Pigs Ellis could earn more playing time

Even some astute IronPigs fans may not know the name Drew Ellis.

The 27-year-old infielder played in the majors as recently as last season, playing six games with Arizona and another one with Seattle. The year before, he appeared in 28 games with the Diamondbacks to give him a total of 35 major league games, during which he hit .141 with a home run and six RBI. The Mariners released him just before the start of the season and the Phillies signed him to a minor league deal.

Ellis started his Phillies career with Reading where he played in 10 games and hit .257 to earn a promotion to Triple-A Lehigh Valley and he met up with the ‘Pigs last Wednesday in Worcester. All Ellis did last week was hit .438 (7-for-16) with four home runs, 13 RBI and five runs scored. Of his four home runs, three of them have been three-run shots and three of them gave Lehigh Valley the lead in the game. Ironically, in his first game with the team, Ellis started 0-for-4 before coming back the next day to collect three hits, including two home runs.

In 2017, the Diamondbacks took Ellis in the second round of the draft after he finished his career at the University of Louisville.

With Will Toffey on the full season IL and Esteban Quiroz going on the seven-day IL, Ellis may see some playing time with Lehigh Valley, whose complement of infielders includes Jim Haley, Scott Kingery, Vimael Machin, and Weston Wilson. It is most likely that Ellis will find time at both second and third.

Last week also saw pitcher Nick Nelson, and outfielder Dustin Peterson go on the IL. Catcher Vito Friscia was taken off of the Developmental List and pitcher Bailey Falter was sent down to Lehigh Valley from the Phillies. Erich Uelmen was recalled by the Phillies only to be optioned back to the ‘Pigs five days later.

Falter will likely make his season debut with the IronPigs Friday night against Buffalo at Coca-Cola Park.

Lehigh Valley went 2-4 in Worcester and pitching was the main problem. In their six games, the IronPigs allowed 42 runs or seven runs per game against the Woo Sox. Offensively, they outscored Worcester, 47-42 in the series, including putting up a seven-run 10th inning to win last Wednesday’s game. Of the six games, three went to extra innings, with Lehigh Valley going 1-2 in those games.

A CAVE IN PHILLY?... With Jake Cave putting up impressive numbers with Lehigh Valley, there is speculation that he could rejoin the Phillies in the not-too-distant future. In his 15 games with a Pig on his hat, he has hit in each of the games with a .426 average over the span, including having hit four home runs and taking over the team lead with 11 doubles.

GIVE JHAILYN A CHANCE… The Phillies still do not seem to believe in Jhailyn Ortiz. Now 24, Ortiz has been in the organization since signing as an amateur free agent prior to the 2016 season. Being so young, Ortiz moved slowly up the ladder and has 92 minor league home runs in seven minor league seasons. This season, Ortiz is batting .315 with four home runs and nine RBI with Lehigh Valley after having played in the Arizona Fall League and the Dominican Winter League before returning to the U.S. for the 2023 season. Even with solid numbers and a young age, Ortiz was recently designated for assignment and then placed on the Developmental List – which is generally just a paper shuffle to stash players on to keep them off of rosters temporarily – before rejoining Lehigh Valley on April 18. Since then, he has slashed .324/.440/.588 with four doubles, a triple and four home runs. He has as many walks (14) as he does strikeouts this season and a .427 on-base percentage.

TALENT SHOW… While the perception is that the IronPigs do not have a lot of prospects on the roster, they actually do have five of the organization’s top 30 prospects. Simon Muzziotti (10), Ortiz (18), McKinley Moore (20), Francisco Morales (24), and Hans Crouse (25).

Photo by Cheryl Pursell Jhailyn Ortiz is batting .315 with four home runs for the IronPigs this season.