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  • Writer's pictureSteve Potter

1/20/22 : Major League Debuts - part four

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

Just to clarify this series of articles. The premise is that the ballplayers I’m chatting about are in a position to afford themselves a break through opportunity to reach the ultimate goal, the major leagues. Whether they get there is obviously predicated on their performance.

The first step in a major league career is to get there. For those of us who watch the daily grind of minor league baseball we know what an achievement that is in itself. Once in the majors the ability to continually contribute to winning games and the team needs dictate how long a player stays.

Just because a player may not appear on a “prospect” ranking doesn’t mean that they can’t get to the show. If that was the case the majority of a team like the 2021 Houston Astros wouldn’t have gotten there. Players that we’ve chatted about in the past such as Seranthony Dominguez, Connor Brogdon, Matt Vierling, Ranger Suarez, etc. that many weren’t aware of in their minor league days weren’t necessarily on the “prospect” radar.

Rather than bemoan “the lack of talent” in the system this series intent is to highlight some of the fellas we continue to watch and cheer for that with on field success in the near future will put themselves in consideration for a chance at accomplishing their dream, reaching the major leagues.

I’m not a person who focuses on the “can’t do” but rather what can or might happen. So … if cynicism is the view then this isn’t the series for you to read, for that matter I’m not the writer for you to follow. In reality only a small percentage of minor league players get to the major leagues, everyone knows that including the players. But the hope and desire to do so doesn’t subside for any player who puts on an uniform. That’s my focus, I’ll always be the one who highlights the upside. From my perspective life is far too short to harbor negative energy. Without hope there is no fuel to the fire. I write about the fire I see in each of these young men’s dream to become a major leaguer.

Now on with part four of the series.

Relievers :

LH Zach Warren - 25 years old - spent the majority of the ‘21 season at Reading except for two games with Lehigh Valley. In 39 appearances ( 45 2/3 IP ) posted a 4.34 ERA with 72 K’s and 37 BB. Was consistently solid at Reading - in 37 games posted a 2.64 ERA and 1.40 WHIP. Features a fastball, curve/slider, change up mix with swooping vertical movement and spin. In years past the heater was mid nineties and above however now generally sits in the 92-94 mph range with better control, can dial up the velocity when needed. Likely opens the year with Lehigh Valley, reliable performances get notice, especially in a sport like pro baseball which is a grind it out game. Zach can pitch at the highest level, in this coming season he may earn and be afforded the chance to pitch at the highest level.

LH Brian Marconi - 24 years old - had an outstanding ‘21 season at Reading and earned league all-star honors as the loop’s top reliever. From my perspective he should have received the Paul Owens Award. Brian pitched at three levels during the summer ( Jersey Shore, Reading & Lehigh Valley ) but excelled at the AA level posting a 2.24 ERA in 34 appearances ( 43 2/3 IP - 56 K’s, 21 BB, 15 saves ). He’s not a high velocity hurler ( FB generally in the 90-92 range ) but has a delivery release point that is hard to pick up and induces swings and misses. Also throws a plus curve ball and goes after hitters, not a lot of wasted effort when he takes the hill. Reminds me a bit of Hoby Milner and Aaron Loup in his approach. Should compete in the spring for a Lehigh Valley assignment, velocity isn’t the only criteria for becoming a major leaguer, if Brian continues to get folks out like he did at Reading a call to the show will come.

RH Mike Adams - 27 years old - - Mike is a great story as he was signed after starting an academy to teach others. He had a whirlwind 2021 season - began at High A Jersey Shore, skipped over Reading and finished the year at AAA Lehigh Valley. Pitched in 44 games ( 47 2/3 IP ) and posted a respectable 3.65 ERA in 30 games at the AAA level. Velocity is mid to upper nineties, he’s building on softer secondaries to finish hitters as they tend to set up for the hard stuff against him. Developing a put away pitch is a priority. Has the ability to throw multiple innings and bounce back quickly, will always take the ball. FB ( sits mid 90’s ) already plays at the highest level, we see him back at AAA to begin the year with an eye on a potential big league debut during the summer.

LH Jeff Singer - 28 years old - appeared in 44 games ( 53 IP ) with Lehigh Valley in 2021. Excellent month of May ( 1.93 ERA in 9 games - 9 1/3 IP ) and strong August ( 2.93 ERA in 10 games - 15 1/3 IP ), finished the year by pitching in the Mexican Winter League. Jeff has a very deceptive “long arm” delivery - fastball generally in the 90-93 range with change-up and slider as secondaries. Has put away stuff, his issues at times have been with walks. We first saw him in 2016 on the backfields as a higher velo thrower, he has since developed into a pitcher who trusts his full repertoire at a lower arm slot. We have long pushed for him getting a chance in the show, confident he can do the job, just needs an opportunity.

LH Jonathan Hennigan - 27 years old - had an extreme summer statistically in 2021, posted strong numbers in both June and August in 16 of his 32 season appearances but four outings in the other months inflated his season ERA - in 28 games his ERA was 2.52 - in the four outings mentioned he gave up 20 runs in 2 2/3 IP. Jonathan is long and lean with three pitches we feel can play in the show, has to find consistency and harness control. Lefties with splitters and big break hooks combined with low to mid nineties heaters are always in demand. Jonathan is a grinder who knows he has to push his own way to the top of the ladder, since day one when we saw him on the Complex backfields we’ve seen both ability and determination to get there. We have a feeling that 2022 is gonna be a good one for Mr. Hennigan.

RH Bubby Rossman - 29 years old - I’ve yet to see him pitch personally so this is a “diamond in the rough” projection based on things I’ve read and asked about. Rossman Is 6’6”, 251 lbs and features a fastball that sits in the 93-97 mph range, a curve ( 77-80 ) and Splitter ( 80-83 ) with the splitter having a knuckleball like action ( very low spin rate ). He pitched for Team Israel in the 2021 European Championship. In seven seasons of professional baseball he’s tossed 236 innings with 271 K’s and 132 walks with an overall ERA of 3.62. He was drafted by the Dodgers in 2014 ( 22nd round ) and pitched with their organization till being released in 2016. Pitched in Independent Pro Baseball after that, the Phillies signed him after he pitched for York in the Atlantic League in 2021. Sounds like a young man that if he can harness the command has good velocity and movement on his fastball and a specialty pitch in his splitter that can be an out maker. Just saying, could have found a big league option to help in the pen if he can excel at either Reading or LHV to start the year.

In part five we will highlight our first group of starting pitchers : Francisco Morales, Erik Miller, Tyler Phillips, Colton Eastman and Scott Moss.

Happy Day, Happy Baseball ⚾️

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