Infielder Lou Collier, 33, returns to the Phillies after spending two seasons in the Orient. Brent Abernathy, 29, has seen time with Tampa Bay, Kansas City and Minnesota. Both have been invited to Spring Training. They also signed relievers Charlie Weatherby and Tom Gornati to minor league deals. [Link]
Lou Collier went MIA after a productive 2004 season in Scranton, until Beerleaguer reader George S. alerted us to his presence somewhere in the far east. His status was verified by Collier’s high school coach in a comment thread. Indeed, Collier was in Korea, playing for the Lucky Goldstar Twins.
The quintessential AAAA tweener, Collier last hit an impressive .326 with 14 HR and 66 RBI in affiliated ball. That was 2004 in Scranton, good enough to earn a late-season cup of coffee with the Phils. In 713 Major League at bats, he’s a .241/.317/.341 hitter with eight homers. He’ll likely return to Ottawa, which is where he put up one of his best seasons in 2002. Keep the passport handy, Lou.
The same goes for Abernathy, who gives the Phils some minor league depth at second in case Chase Utley goes down. The former 2nd round pick of the Blue Jays is a career .301 minor league hitter, with 868 Major League at bats (.244/.297/.325). He spent all of last season with Triple-A Nashville (Milwaukee) and hit .287/.345/.358 in 125 games.
According to my calculations, right-hander Charlie Weatherby has officially become the first Lancaster Barnstormer (Independent) to sign with the Phils. A number of ex-Phils have drifted the other way, including Danny Gonzalez and Reggie Taylor, and they currently employ Rick Wise as their pitching coach. The 28-year-old closer was 4th in the independent Atlantic League in saves (15) and second in games (63). In five minor league seasons, he’s 12-13 with a 3.60 ERA, almost entirely in relief. No passport required, but $3 in toll money is recommended to meet the Philadelphia bosses.
As for Gornati, 25, the right-hander spent last season with Single-A Dunedin (Toronto), going 2-3 with a 3.94 ERA, striking out 41 batters in 40 games. He is a University of Pittsburgh product and a native of St. Mary’s, Pa. A couple bucks in tolls and a sack lunch are recommended.