Biddle, Franco Headed to Big League Camp

The Phillies yesterday announced they have invited five more players to Spring Training as non-roster invitees.

The quintet includes left-hander Jesse Biddle, third baseman Maikel Franco, right-hander Ken Giles, left-hander Mario Hollands and catcher Sebastian Valle. MLB.com ranks Biddle and Franco as the top two prospects in the organization, respectively.

Biddle went 5-14 with a 3.64 ERA in 27 starts last season with Double-A Reading. Franco hit a combined .320 with 31 home runs and 103 RBIs in 134 games between Class A Clearwater and Reading. Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said Franco could compete with Cody Asche for a job at third base, although Asche is the favorite.

Biddle is expected to open the season with Triple-A Lehigh Valley.

Giles is a hard thrower, striking out 16 in 10 1/3 innings in the Arizona Fall League. He went 2-2 with a 6.31 ERA with Clearwater, although he was limited to just 24 appearances because of injury.

Hollands went 7-3 with a 2.86 ERA in 27 appearances (20 starts) with Clearwater and Reading. The Phillies recently removed Valle from the 40-man roster. He had been the top catching prospect in the organization, but Cameron Rupp and Tommy Joseph surpassed him last season.

The Phillies have invited 16 players to camp as non-roster invitees: pitchers Biddle, Shawn Camp, Giles, Hollands, Cesar Jimenez, Jeff Manship and Sean O’Sullivan; catchers Lou Marson and Valle; infielders Andres Blanco, Reid Brignac and Franco; and outfielders Leandro Castro, Tony Gwynn Jr., Dave Sappelt and Clete Thomas.

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