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  • Writer's pictureSteve Potter

1/19/22 : Major League Debuts - part three

Third in a series on Phillies minor leaguers who might make major league debuts in 2022. If ya missed the first two articles here are links

Relievers :

RH Blake Brown - 23 years old - has shown the capability to register his fastball in the triple digits and sit consistently in the mid to upper 90’s. He had a strong ‘21 season for Jersey Shore posting a 3.15 ERA in 33 games ( 40 IP ) with 58 K’s and 34 walks. We also have seen him throw in Fall Instructs both in ‘20 and ‘21. Finished the season with a promotion to Reading and appeared in one game. Has the ability to overpower hitters along with the demeanor needed for late innings. Blake will have to continue to harness fastball control and develop more consistent command with his secondary offerings but is a viable big league arm in the not so distant future. Will likely begin ‘22 at Reading with a shot at AAA out of spring camp also. When he throws strikes ( or even near misses ) the stuff can play in the show.

RH Andrew Schultz - 24 years old - spent the 2021 summer with the Complex rehab team working back from Tommy John surgery, in particular with Coach Cesar Ramos. He was back on the mound in Fall Instructs and was popping the glove in the 97-99 mph range, also showed the ability to throw his secondary offerings, in particular a sharp slider. Andrew has a unique short arm delivery that makes the ball seemingly jump even quicker on the hitters. He was a triple digit hurler in college at Tennessee and early in his pro career, looks to be back there but with stronger mechanics . He’s used to the pressures of back end relief work. If good health continues he can be a quick mover, likely out of spring camp with Jersey Shore or perhaps Reading - upper levels in sight, with his stuff he can get on the big league radar in short order ( see what I did there 🤓 ).

RH Mark Appel - 30 years old - started the 2021 season with Reading and finished with Lehigh Valley - pitched in 23 games ( 71 1/3 IP ) and while velocity was consistently in mid nineties rust from a long layoff made for command and control issues. At season’s end he had moved from the starting rotation to the bullpen which may be the path to make the final step up. The velo is there, it’s a matter of repetition, location and building back secondaries. Has always had big league stuff. A decision will need to be made as to his 2022 role, also will have to continue to reel in both command and control to become a viable option for potential big league consideration. Could either be a starter or reliever - converting to the pen might allow velocity to play more.

LH Erubiel Armenta - 21 years old - Big frame belies an equally big arm, had an off the charts 19.17 K/9 rate in 16 games ( 23 IP ) and a 1.96 ERA posting 49 K’s and 16 walks at three levels in 2021 ( CW, JS, REA ). Still very young but has an array of pro experience as has previously pitched in the Mexican Winter League. His delivery uncoils and reminds me of Aroldis Chapman, one which hides the ball well and makes it jump on hitters. He shows no fear in any moment of the competition that we’ve seen,albeit we’ve seen a few occasions of wildness. Erubiel has both the confidence and ability to excel at any level. He finished 2021 at Reading in one appearance during the final week, we anticipate he will start there this spring, could push up quickly, with his stuff and composure is potentially a viable big leaguer at some point in 2022.

RH Billy Sullivan - 22 years old - top notch velo and movement - upper nineties stuff and a quirky delivery to boot that hides the baseball from hitters. In his first pro season Billy reached the AA level - appeared in 20 games overall ( 23 2/3 IP ) with Jersey Shore and Reading and posted a combined 2.66 ERA and 1.10 WHIP with 35 K’s and 13 walks. Shut down at three different intervals during the summer with shoulder stiffness - was more precautionary than concerning as he had TJ surgery in college ( Delaware ) so better safe than sorry. His work ahead is to further harness control/command but we feel that will come with more game experience. He is a hard worker and is hungry, wants to pitch badly for his hometown team. Has a clean bill of health heading into upcoming spring camp. Reading or Lehigh Valley is a likely assignment out of spring camp. Could get to the show during the summer if a need arises once he builds up innings and can string together some of the dominant performances in the minors like we witnessed in 2021.

RH Braden Zarbnisky - 25 years old - rose thru the system quickly in his first year of play in 2021 - pitched at three levels ( Jersey Shore, Reading & Lehigh Valley ) accumulating 49 1/3 IP over 30 games ( 51 K’s & 13 BB ) posting a 1.05 WHIP. Fastball, curve and change up in the mix with the fastball generally in the 93-94 mph range and flashing upwards of 95-96 - good movement on all deliveries, gets after it and throws strikes. He was also a position player in college ( West Virginia ), is athletic and ambitious, wants the baseball in any situation. We got to chat with him briefly in Fall Instructs, pleasant young man who is focused on the prize. Strong demeanor and competitiveness. Braden finished the ‘21 season on the IL however he’s good to go now this spring and should get a look in Grapefruit League games ( if they play them ). Likely an opening day slot with Lehigh Valley but could move to the show during the season.

In part four we will highlight another group of relief pitchers ; Zach Warren, Brian Marconi, Mike Adams, Bubby Rossman, Jeff Singer and Jonathan Hennigan.

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