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Phillies Notebook: Rule 5 Draft kind to Phillies

The Rule 5 draft was designed so that major league teams don’t stockpile talent in the minor leagues while also allowing those talented prospects a chance to blossom elsewhere.Players are eligible to be selected from opposing teams via the Rule 5 draft if they’re not on their original organization’s 40-man roster within four years of signing with the team (or five years if they signed at age 18 or younger).When the clock strikes midnight Thursday morning, the Phillies will have benefited from the Rule 5 draft for the second straight season.The 25-man roster can expand to as many as 40 players Sept. 1, meaning no player on the current active roster is in danger of losing his spot in a numbers crunch. Michael Martinez, whom the Phils selected from the Washington Nationals in the Rule 5 draft in December, will no longer be in danger of being offered back to the Nats.As a Rule 5 pick, Martinez had to remain on the major league roster for the duration of the 2011 season or else be offered back to Washington for $25,000.While Martinez’s numbers this season (.213 batting average, .251 on-base percentage) likely won’t make any Phillies fan throw a party for him, he has become a useful utility infielder for a team that has a habit of placing veteran infielders on the disabled list.Moreover, Martinez’s survival of the Rule 5 process means he can also get further grooming in the minor leagues next season if the Phils deem necessary. Or perhaps his 2011 big-league stint has him prepared enough.Just look at the progression David Herndon has made this season.The Phillies selected Herndon from the Angels in the Rule 5 draft in Dec. 2009. Like Martinez this season, Herndon stuck on the major league roster in 2010 and although he struggled —- his .321 opponents’ batting average was the highest in the NL —- the major league experience he got proved to be invaluable.Entering play Monday, Herndon has a 14-inning scoreless streak; he hasn’t allowed a run since July 18 in Chicago.During that 12-game stretch, Herndon has 11 strikeouts and one walk. But his success stretches as far back as May 22 when he made his first appearance after a month-long stay at Triple-A Lehigh Valley.Since returning to the big leagues, Herndon is 1-2 with a 1.59 ERA in 25 games. He’s struck out 28 and walked three in 34 innings, and opponents are hitting .236 against him.With the Phillies bullpen future unclear —- veterans Ryan Madson and Brad Lidge are likely to hit the free agent market and Jose Contreras is undergoing elbow surgery —- the 25-year-old Herndon’s maturation will benefit the Phils next season, too.Oh yeah, and that Shane Victorino guy, a perennial All Star, Gold Glover and potential MVP candidate, was also a Rule 5 pick, one who was actually offered back to his former club, the Dodgers, only to have them refuse.oTrivial pursuit: Detroit’s Justin Verlander became the major league’s first 20-game winner when the Tigers beat Minnesota 6-4 Saturday. Verlander became the first pitcher since Curt Schilling in 2002 to reach 20 wins before September.With at least a handful of start left, Verlander has a shot at reaching 25 wins. Name the last major league pitcher to win at least 25 games in a season.oFormer Phils file: Jim Thome landed with one of his former teams this week —- just not the former team Charlie Manuel was hoping for.The Cleveland Indians claimed Thome off waivers and then worked out a deal with Minnesota for the likeable future Hall of Fame slugger Thursday night. Since the Phillies have the best record in baseball, they had to hope that every other team in baseball decided not to claim Thome or that he invoked his no trade clause to block a deal to anyone but the Phillies, who were reportedly his top choice.The 41-year-old Thome, who became the eighth member of the 600-home run club earlier this month, hasn’t won a World Series title in 21 seasons.“I was hoping we might land him,” Manuel said. “We could definitely use him.”The bond between Manuel and Thome might be unlike any other in baseball.As a hitting coach in Cleveland, Manuel helped mold Thome into a power hitter and fought for the young slugger while he came though the Indians minor league ranks. After hitting his 600th hom run, Thome was highly complementary of Manuel, who he helped bring to Philly.“He’s been my guy, been my guy for a long time,” Thome said. “He believed in me. He believed in the fact that I could be a good player. He’s like a dad – like my dad – he’s very, very special.”oFuture Phils file: When rosters expand Thursday, the Phillies will very likely add a third catcher to their roster. An obvious choice would be Erik Kratz, who is hitting .291 with an .849 OPS, 15 home runs and 51 RBIs in 99 games at Triple-A Lehigh Valley.But another name to keep an eye on is Double-A Reading’s Tuffy Gosewich. The 28-year-old catcher is lauded for his skills behind the plate, so much so that Roy Halladay requested him as his catcher in spring training.Gosewich is hitting .255 with 13 home runs and 65 RBIs in 101 games with Reading. In the last 10 games, he’s hitting .306 with two home runs and four doubles.The Phils only have two catchers on the 40-man roster —- Carlos Ruiz and Brian Schneider —- meaning that they’d have to create a spot for either Gosewich or Kratz. That spot can be made by transferring Jose Contreras to the 60-day disabled list.oTrivial Answer: Oakland’s Bob Welch is the last 25-game winner. Welch won the 1990 Cy Young Award when he went 27-6.No National League pitcher has won 25 games since Phillies Hall of Famer Steve Carlton went 27-10 in 1972. In the last 40 seasons, only three major league pitchers have won 25 games: Welch, Carlton and Steve Stone (Baltimore, 1980).Reach Ryan Lawrence at

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