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Non-roster position players give Phillies depth

PHILADELPHIA -- On Monday, looked at the non-roster invitees and newcomers to the Phillies' 40-man roster on the pitching side.

On Wednesday, it is the position players.

Consider it a Spring Training primer with camp opening next month.

INF Andres Blanco: He has spent parts of six seasons with the Royals, Cubs and Rangers. Blanco played last season with Triple-A Lehigh Valley, hitting .235 with a .648 OPS. But he plays a solid shortstop, so if something should happen to Jimmy Rollins or Freddy Galvis, Blanco could see time with the Phils this year.

"We really like his glove, playing defense at short," pro scouting director Mike Ondo said. "He was a good veteran with a good presence there. He helped [infield prospect] Cesar Hernandez a lot, so we brought him back. He provides some infield depth."

OF Zach Collier: The Phillies selected Collier, 22, in the first round of the 2008 First-Year Player Draft. He hit .269 with 13 doubles, three triples, six home runs, 32 RBIs, 11 stolen bases and a .733 OPS in 319 plate appearances last season with Class A Clearwater.

"He went out and performed very well in the Arizona Fall League," assistant general manager Scott Proefrock said. "He needed to be protected [or risk being lost in the Rule 5 Draft], so we certainly see him progressing and competing for a job in Double-A. I don't think he's a guy on the radar for the Major League level this year, but if he continues to progress, he's certainly a guy that could be there in the future."

INF Josh Fields: The White Sox selected Fields in the first round of the 2004 First-Year Player Draft. He spent parts of five seasons in the big leagues with the White Sox and Royals, hitting a combined .234 with a .724 OPS. Fields hit .322 with 32 doubles, five triples, 13 home runs, 71 RBIs and an .880 OPS with Triple-A Albuquerque (Dodgers) last season.

"He swung the bat last year," Ondo said. "He can play third base, but first base and some corner outfield, too."

CF Ender Inciarte: Philadelphia selected Inciarte, 22, in the Rule 5 Draft from Arizona. He split last season between Class A South Bend and Visalia, where he hit a combined .307 with 28 doubles, 10 triples, 47 RBIs, 82 runs scored and 46 stolen bases.

"We like the defensive ability," Ondo said. "We think he's an above-average defender in center field and an above-average runner. The reports we get are that he has the instincts to play the game and is a guy we can trust to run out there to play defense late."

Inciarte has to remain on the Phillies' 25-man roster the entire season to remain in the organization. If he does not, the Phils have to offer him back to the D-backs.

"Is it realistic?" Ondo said. "I think there's a chance. We've seen this guy. We've seen him during the year at two different spots. We saw him in Venezuela [in winter ball]. Just on the defense, our guys think he has instincts to play the outfield. With his tools, we think he's a guy, at least initially, that could fill in defensively as a late-inning replacement, pinch-run."

OF Jermaine Mitchell: He has a career .803 OPS in the Minor Leagues and hit .252 with 15 doubles, 11 triples, six home runs and 38 RBIs last season with Triple-A Sacramento (Oakland).

"We liked what we saw," Proefrock said, "so we thought we'd bring him into the system to see what we have. He's a little bit older, but he has lots of physical ability."

C Humberto Quintero: The Phillies signed Quintero before Major League Baseball suspended Carlos Ruiz 25 games for using a banned stimulant. Quintero figures to be the team's backup the first month of the season. He has spent 10 seasons in the big leagues, mostly with Houston. Quintero played 43 games last season with the Royals, hitting .232 with a .598 OPS.

"He's an experienced guy to compete with [Erik] Kratz," Ondo said.

This list does not include infielders Michael Martinez and Pete Orr, who are non-roster invitees, because they have been in the organization in previous seasons, so fans are familiar with them. It also does not include catcher Tommy Joseph and Asche, who are expected to be in camp.

Joseph and Sebastian Valle, who is on the 40-man roster, will be competing for the starting catching job in Triple-A, so this is a big spring for both of them.

"Especially with Chooch's situation," Proefrock said, referring to Ruiz's 25-game suspension. "If we need somebody, they need to be exposed to those [big league] pitchers, so it's not a complete shock if something happens and Chooch isn't available yet. You always need catchers in Spring Training. But these aren't guys who are just there to catch. They're in our future plans."

If Asche has a big season, he could put himself in position to be the team's third baseman in 2014.

"He's not on the roster, but it might be wise to expose him to that environment," Proefrock said. "Michael Young is signed through this season, so we might have a need again next year at third base. So there's no reason not to try to put him in situations and get him some familiarity with our staff and vice versa, and see what he can do."

Philadelphia Phillies, Andres Blanco, Zach Collier, Josh Fields, Ender Inciarte, Jermaine Mitchell, Humberto Quintero