The Phillies' top position player and pitching prospects, Maikel Franco and Jesse Biddle, were invited to big-league spring training Wednesday, although neither may have a chance at winning a job.
Franco will compete with Cody Asche for third base. Asche is the favorite in that competition given his decent production as a rookie in the final months of 2013. Franco is viewed as the future at the position; the 21-year-old Dominican solidified top-prospect status with 31 homers last season.
Biddle, the Germantown Friends graduate and former first-round pick, is likely ticketed for triple-A Lehigh Valley next April. Manager Ryne Sandberg said last month Biddle is a "back-burner type of possibility" for the 2014 rotation. He posted a 3.64 ERA at double-A Reading in 2013 with 10 strikeouts per nine innings.
The Phillies also invited righthander Ken Giles, lefthander Mario Hollands and catcher Sebastian Valle. Giles, 23, is an intruiging arm. He throws 100 m.p.h. and impressed during Arizona Fall League action.