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  • Writer's pictureSteve Potter

1/29/22 : 2022 Young Guns - Part Four

Fourth and final in a series on some of the younger pitchers in the Phillies system that have high performance skill sets and thus a chance at climbing the ladder to the highest level of professional baseball. If ya missed the previous three articles here are links -

LH Matt Osterberg - 22 years old - 2021 15th round draft selection - St. Cloud State, St. Cloud State, MN. He pitched in 8 ballgames ( 7 - Clearwater & 1 - FCL ) posting a 1.74 ERA in 20 2/3 IP with 24 K’s and 9 walks. Matt has a four pitch mix ( FB, sinker, change & slider ) with FB generally in the 90-93 mph range. Could be a starter or multi inning reliever as he develops, strike thrower -that’s always a good thing. He should be in the mix for a High A roster spot in Spring Camp.

RH Matt Russell - 22 years old - signed as an un-drafted free agent - 7/21/21 - Missouri State University. Matt pitched in nine games with the Threshers posting a 3.06 ERA in 17 2/3 IP with 22 K’s and 4 walks - 1.16 WHIP. We also saw him take the hill in Fall Instructs. Has a full arsenal of deliveries ( four seam, sinker, slider, cutter, change up and curve ) and sometimes uses a delayed delivery as deception, reminiscent of Gene Garber or Luis Tiant. The fastball can reach 95-96 mph, generally sits 93-94. Was primarily a reliever in his college career, likely continues down that path. A likely High A assignment out of spring camp.

RH Gunner Mayer - 21 years old - 2019 5th round draft selection - San Joaquin Delta JC, San Joaquin Delta JC, CA. Gunner began the ‘21 season as part of the Threshers piggyback rotation. He went on the IL on May 12th and didn’t return to action till June 29th. He did another stint on the IL from August 3rd till the 31st when the team had Covid issues and multiple players were quarantined. He pitched 26 1/3 innings over 13 games ( FCL & Clearwater ), struggled with control issuing 22 walks but also struck out 38 batters. His fastball generally sits in the 92-94 mph range, he also features a curve and change up. Very lively pitches that produce a lot of swings and misses. Needs to build up innings to harness command, raw stuff has upper level potential. He will pitch half the season as a 21 year old, with the lack of game experience he’s likely to begin the season with Low A Clearwater unless he pushes his way to Jersey Shore in spring training.

RH Manuel Urias - 20 years old - signed as an international free agent - 3/7/18 - Ahome, Sinaloa, Mexico. Manuel is the ultimate strike thrower - has issued a minuscule 25 walks in 175 1/3 professional innings pitched - an incredible 0.99 BB/9. We saw him in 2021 Fall Instructs, is a big fella at 6’6” which he uses as an advantage with an extended release point. Fastball is in the 91-93 mph range, velocity isn’t his key to success, mix ( four pitches ) and command ( quality strikes ) are. He posted a 1.82 ERA in 14 games with the 2021 DSL Red team ( 54 1/3 IP, 63 K’s, 6 BB ) including a spectacular month of September ( 0.69 ERA in 6 starts - 26 IP, 30 K’s & 3 BB ). Intelligent pitcher with a career 1.75 ERA and 0.92 WHIP as career numbers to date. Manuel made his debut in the Mexican Winter League this past November. He will be 21 years old for the entire season, it’s time to come stateside and see if success continues, we’d expect a shot as a starter with the Clearwater Threshers as a possibility else a role in the FCL Phillies rotation.

RH Fernando Lozano - 22 years old - signed as an international free agent - 4/25/19 - Ensenada Baja California, Mexico. Fernando is a very cerebral pitcher who knows how to read hitters and adjust during games. Had a solid 2021 campaign with Clearwater posting a 2.60 ERA in 17 games ( 52 IP ) with a 1.10 WHIP ( 51 K’s, 21 BB ). Covid issues forced an early ending to the season for him along with many others, he went on IL in early August and didn’t return to action till early September making two FCL appearances. We like his moxy, repertoire ( four pitches - low 90’s velocity - FB ), mechanics and approach. Gets the job done. Also pitches in the Mexican Winter League. With a good spring camp he likely heads to Jersey Shore to begin the season.

RH Victor Vargas - 21 years old - signed as an international free agent 7/2/17 - Cartagena, Colombia. Victor had an outstanding month of June with Clearwater posting a 2.11 ERA in five games ( 21 1/3 IP ) with 22 K’s and 6 walks. It earned him a promotion to Jersey Shore on 7/31 and also made a fill-in start for Lehigh Valley on 7/25 throwing five shutout innings. Uses a Sinker, Slider and Change-Up mix with the heater ranging from 89-92 mph. Has a smooth delivery, strong mechanics and high baseball IQ are his assets for success. Generally attacks hitters to induce weak contact, throws strikes. We like his moxy and competitiveness, reminds me alot of Kyle Hendricks of the Cubs in his approach. He should break spring camp with either Jersey Shore or perhaps Reading - will pitch the majority of the season as a 21 year old.

That’s a wrap for the series. Hopefully brought some baseball thoughts to mind as we inch closer to spring training. If so, I’ve accomplished my goal 🤓.

If interested on my thoughts on other players I have profiled every player who played stateside in the Phillies minor league system in 2021 ( that was still with the club as of November ) in my sixth annual minor league digest - The Comeback Season. It can be purchased on Amazon - here’s the link :

Happy Day, Happy Baseball ⚾️

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