Indians Return Rule 5 Pick Hoby Milner
Due to the unfinished CBA and a deep farm system the Phillies were forced to protect 11 players on the 40 man roster from the Rule 5 draft. They did leave a couple of players unprotected, the most notable and major league ready was LHP Hoby Milner. The Indians took Milner in the Rule 5 draft and added him to their 40 man roster. At the time the only left handed reliever on their roster was Andrew Miller. For the Phillies it depleted their already low supply of left handed arms.
As much as Milner looked like a lock to stick when the Indians took him in the draft, that changed dramatically when the Indians signed LHP Boone Logan a little bit later. This week the Indians admitted that they wanted the roster spot and offered Milner back to the Phillies, who accepted. Milner did not have a good spring for the Indians (7.0 IP 9.00 ERA 3 BB 9 K), but he will report directly to major league camp for the Phillies.
Milner is not a high upside reliever, but he is exactly what the Phillies do not have in their system. In 2016 the Phillies lowered Milner’s arm slot and he saw a slight uptick in velocity and large uptick in results. He features a fastball that sits in the high 80s and will touch 90-91, a slider, and a changeup. Across two levels (AA and AAA) in 2016 Milner pitched 65.o innings with a 2.49 ERA, 15 walks, and 76 strikeouts. He was especially difficult on lefties who hit .230/.279/.280 off of him. Due to his platoon splits, Milner’s ceiling is likely as a LOOGY.
For the Phillies, Milner enters a busy competition to be the 7th reliever in the Phillies bullpen. With only one lefty looking like a lock for a spot (Joely Rodriguez), there has been a push for the 7th spot to also be a lefty. Milner suffers from the same problems that other members of the competition have, his lack of a 40 man roster spot. This makes it likely that he goes to Lehigh Valley to open the year, but if the Phillies are looking for a left handed reliever during the season, Milner should be near the top of the list because he will have a full complement of minor league options.