Top Prospect #22: RHP Eric Junge

Eric Junge

When all is said and done, perhaps the best thing that will be said about Omar Daal's stay in Philadelphia is that when the Phillies traded Daal to Los Angeles, they got Eric Junge in return. While Junge hasn't won a permanent spot on the major league roster, 2004 could be the year that he becomes a major leaguer to stay. With two open spots in the bullpen, the Phillies have Junge penciled in for one of them.

The Dodgers grabbed Eric Junge in the 11th round of the 1999 Draft. While he was a prospect then, he has developed into an even stronger prospect now. Working on his delivery brought a couple extra miles per hour to his fastball, which is usually in the low to mid 90s.

 

Another change in Junge's career has been a move from being strictly a reliever to working as a swingman with the Phillies. It's likely that the Phillies, with an abundance of young pitchers coming along, will use Junge in the bullpen, at least for now. There is always the chance that he could wind up as a starter down the road, especially since both Eric Milton and Kevin Millwood are headed toward free agency after this season. Should both leave, Junge might get a shot at filling one of the holes.

 

While with the Dodgers, Junge worked his way up to the AA level and in three seasons went 23-19, 3.90 in 66 starts. After the Phillies sent Omar Daal, who was an important part of the Curt Schilling trade to Arizona, to the Dodgers, they were very high on Junge as part of the deal. In 2002, the Phillies gave Junge his first taste of AAA ball and he responded well, going 12-6, 3.55 in 29 starts at Scranton Wilkes-Barre. Junge was rewarded with a promotion to the majors and pitched in four games (one as a starter) going 2-0, 1.42 for the Phils.

 

The Phillies took a look at Junge in spring training last year, but sent him to AAA Scranton for more work. From there, Junge wore a path between Scranton and Philadelphia. The transition back and forth greatly interrupted Junge's routine and he pitched just a combined 54.2 innings at the two stops in 2003. When he did get a chance to pitch at the major league level, he pitched well (0-0, 3.52) but was primarily just a warm body that took up space in the Phillies bullpen. At Scranton, Junge pitched in 10 games – 8 as a starter – and went 1-1, 3.06 for the Red Barons.

 

The biggest turnaround in Junge's career came when the Phillies sent him to the Arizona Fall League following the 2002 season. It was there that Junge seemed to really put it all together and have scouts look at him in a new light. Suddenly, Junge's velocity picked up and his slider had more of a bite to it. The Phillies believe that Junge's slider could be a dominant out pitch for him as a reliever. While Junge's control isn't pinpoint, it's not bad and seems to be getting better. While they haven't come out and said it, Junge is almost assured of a bullpen job when camp closes this spring.

 

Eric Junge's Career Stats

 

Year/Team

W

L

ERA

SV

G

GS

IP

H/9 IP

BB/9 IP

KO/9 IP

1999 Yakima

(Rookie)

5

7

5.82

0

15

15

82.0

10.8

3.4

6.0

2000 San Bernardino (A)

8

1

3.36

0

29

24

158.0

9.1

3.0

6.6

2001 Jacksonville

(AA)

10

11

3.46

0

27

27

164.0

7.8

3.1

6.4

2002 Scranton

(AAA)

12

6

3.55

0

29

29

180.2

8.5

3.3

6.3

2003 Philadelphia

2

0

1.42

0

4

1

12.2

9.9

3.5

7.8

2003 Scranton

(AAA)

1

1

3.06

0

10

8

47.0

7.3

3.1

8.0

2003 Philadelphia

0

0

3.52

0

6

0

7.2

5.8

1.2

5.8

Minor League Totals

36

26

3.74

0

110

103

631.2

8.7

3.2

6.5

Major League Totals

2

0

2.37

0

10

1

20.1

8.4

2.7

7.1

 

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