PHILADELPHIA -- Joe Savery had his truck loaded up and ready to roll.
He expected to be somewhere on Interstate 81 Saturday.
Instead, he found himself unpacking his bags in the Phillies' clubhouse, perhaps hours from making his big league debut. The Phillies selected his contract following Friday's game against the St. Louis Cardinals. Savery, catcher Erik Kratz, outfielder Brandon Moss, right-hander Justin De Fratus and outfielder Domonic Brown all joined the Phillies on Saturday after finishing the season with Triple-A Lehigh Valley.
Savery's arrival was the most surprising, if one had placed odds on those five before the season started. A first-round selection in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft out of Rice University, he was struggling so much as a pitcher during his first four seasons in the farm system, the Phillies agreed to try him as a hitter this season. He opened the season with Class A Clearwater, earning Minor League Player of the Month honors in April. But he eventually returned to pitching and blossomed. He went 5-0 with a 1.50 ERA in 25 games with Clearwater, Double-A Reading and Lehigh Valley. In 36 innings, he walked six and struck out 41.
"Being good at baseball again," he said, when asked about the most surprising thing about his season. "You feel like you've tried everything and anything on the mound, and it felt like it wasn't coming back. I never had anything in my arm. Just seemed like it was what it was."
Understandably, Savery had his doubts he would make the big leagues. He had no desire to become a career Minor Leaguer and re-enrolled in classes at Rice in the fall. He cancelled those classes last month.
"I figured that I was getting to the point where I had worn out my welcome," he said. "I just figured it was time to try something else. My dad has been in real estate in Houston for 30 years. I hadn't really gotten that far, but I figured this was close to the end."
Savery was overcome with emotion when he got the news Friday, shedding a few tears.
"I can't believe I'm sitting here right now," he said. "There's no way you could have come up with this. I certainly wasn't planning for it."
But here is something even more mind-blowing for Savery to think about: Phillies left-hander Antonio Bastardo has struggled recently, which means the Phillies could be looking for a second left-hander in the bullpen for the postseason.
How crazy would that be?
"Our minds are open," Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. "I've seen him pitch myself. He's throwing much better. He earned his way here."