Big lefty Araujo making strong case for Majors future

Reliever has posted four scoreless spring innings, likely to start season in Minors

Big lefty Araujo making strong case for Majors future

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- The Phillies took a relatively unusual step in November when they signed Minor League left-hander Elvis Araujo to a Major League contract.

Araujo, 23, had never pitched above Double-A, but the Phillies need as much young pitching in their system as possible, so they outbid at least a couple other suitors. Araujo is a big guy with a big arm, and the Phillies hope he can help in the bullpen in the future.

"I haven't seen any real flaws yet," Phillies pitching coach Bob McClure said Sunday morning at Bright House Field.

Araujo allowed one hit and struck out two in one scoreless inning in Sunday's 11-4 victory over the Red Sox at Bright House Field. He has given up just one hit and one walk and has struck out four in four scoreless innings this spring.

"I don't watch the speed," said Araujo, whose fastball hits 97 mph. "I just throw strikes, and that happens along with it."

Araujo went a combined 2-1 with a 3.42 ERA and 11 saves in 43 games last season with Class A Advanced Carolina and Double-A Akron. He struck out 50 in 50 innings, and he walked 28. He is expected to open the season in the Minor Leagues with a handful of left-handers ahead of him on the depth chart, including Jake Diekman, Mario Hollands and Rule 5 Draft pick Andy Oliver.

"He's throwing strikes, he's pounding the zone, he's keeping the ball down," McClure said of Araujo. "I'm impressed. That angle, that's tough to hit at that velocity, too."

Araujo is listed at 6-foot-6, 215 pounds, but he said he weighs 280 pounds. His height and size could be intimidating to hitters.

"If you're planning on being competitive and getting into fights, you want to take as many big guys as you can," McClure joked.

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.