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  • Writer's pictureSteve Potter

10/10/23 : Annual Phillies Minor League Player Notes - Pitchers - Part One

Updated: Nov 16, 2023

On an off-day in the Phillies/Braves Division series playoffs thought I’d sneak in the first in the series of my off-season minor league player notes.  Was debating on whether to continue these or not.  I’ll let ya all be the judge if a worthwhile endeavor.  Like the Phillies I’m better when coming back - not really, just liked the Nick Castellanos remark so much after last night’s game when he said  “I mean, we thrive after we get punched in the face, man. You know?” that I had to dream up a scenario to use it 🤓.  Go Phillies - no doubts!

Anyways back to my world … Last off-season I started a new off-season writing venture - rather than producing a hard copy version of what was an annual Phillies Minor League Digest I went with a new approach.  A large portion of the digest was my player notes - views that are not entirely built upon seasonal or short term stats - while I reference them I rely more upon my observations and feedback as the year progressed.  I can attest that I actually watch games each evening, attend practices and interact with a vast amount of players, coaches, scouts and front office folks.

This off-season we continue the series  “Annual Phillies Minor League Player Notes” with profiles presented in groupings by defensive positions.  I intend to offer notes on every stateside player I watched perform this past season (191 in total) that finished the 2023 season with the organization.  I recently sent a couple questions to the players - asked them what was their  biggest personal takeaway from the 2023 season and what they are focusing on this off-season to prepare for 2024.  Where I have responses I will include them in the notes.  Also where I’m able I will include feedback from coaches.

The initial set of articles will be on pitchers.  I’ll present notes on 103 pitchers done in alphabetical order.  The breakdown is as follows :

Group 1 :  Mick Abel, Samuel Aldegheri, Luis Alcala, Shaun Anderson, Erubiel Armenta

Group 2 : Konnor Ash, Andrew Baker, Brandon Beckel, Carlos Betancourt

Group 3 : Malik Binns, Josh Bortka, Ben Bowden, Connor Brogdon, Blake Brown

Group 4 : Cam Brown, Jean Cabrera, Eiberson Castellano, Starlyn Castillo, Ethan Chenault, Ty Collins

Group 5 : Gabriel Cotto, Hans Crouse, Jack Dallas, Trey Dillard, Jake Eddington

Group 6 : Jaydenn Estanista, Braeden Fausnaught, Jordan Fowler, Carlos Francisco, Javier Fuenmayor

Group 7 : Marty Gair, Alex Garbrick, Eric Garcia, Tristan Garnett, Drew Garrett

Group 8 : Luis Gomez, Mavis Graves, Zach Haake, Daniel Harper, Josh Hendrickson

Group 9 : Jonh Henriquez, Cristian Hernandez, Jakob Hernandez, Chase Hopewell, Drew Hutchinson

Group 10 : Estibenzon Jimenez, Damon Jones, Nate Karaffa, Orion Kerkering, Keylan Killgore

Group 11 : George Klassen, Taylor Lehman, Adam Leverett, Hunter Loyd, Rafael Marcano

Group 12 : Jordi Martinez, Gunner Mayer, Tommy McCollum, Alex McFarlane, Griff McGarry

Group 13 : Christian McGowan, Tyler McKay, Oswald Medina, Daniel Mejia, Jhordany Mezquita

Group 14 : McKinley Moore, Wesley Moore, Nick Nelson, Mitch Neunborn, Luis Ortiz

Group 15 : Matt Osterberg, Micah Ottenbreit, Andrew Painter, Wen Hui Pan, David Parkinson

Group 16 : Jose Pena Jr, Hector Perez, Jonathan Petit, Tyler Phillips, Dominic Pipkin

Group 17 : Michael Plassmeyer, Alex Rao, Jason Ruffcorn, Matt Russell, Luke Russo

Group 18 : Rodolfo Sanchez, Brett Schulze, Andrew Schultz, Eduar Segovia, Enrique Segura, Casey Steward

Group 19 : Noah Skirrow, Saul Teran, Paxton Thompson, Braydon Tucker, Erich Uelmen, Guissepe Velasquez

Group 20 : Ezequiel Ventura, Jace Vines, Andrew Walling, Jeremy Walker, Danny Wilkinson, Cam Wynne

So we continue - the first article in the 2023 series on pitchers  ⚾️🤓.

RHP Mick Abel - 22 years old - drafted in first round of the 2020 draft from Jesuit High School, Portland, OR

2023 Stats :  23 starts and appearances - 4.13 ERA between Reading (22 games) and Lehigh Valley (1 game). 113 1/3 IP, 1.26 WHIP,  .192 BAA,  132 K’s, 65 BB, averaged 17.42 pitches per inning and posted a 61 % strike ratio. His second half ERA was 3.74 in 53 IP as compared to 4.25 in the first half in 55 IP.

2023 Notes : Mick caught fire in his last four starts of the season for Reading posting a 1.17 ERA in twenty-three IP allowing just three runs and eight hits while striking out twenty-three batters.  He finished the year making his AAA debut in a start for Lehigh Valley on 9/22.  Focused on a sinking fastball and curve as primary pitches down the stretch, both plus offerings, plans to work further on his change up in off-season.  Ran into some difficulties during the year with walks and tipping pitches (particularly out of the windup) but was able to address them.  He’s capable of dominating opponents, has a definite big league skill set.  He’s a student of the game.  A genuinely nice young man who possesses the gift of being able to throw his fastball consistently in the upper nineties - he’s easy to root for.

Mick’s reflections :   “My biggest personal takeaway is that I now understand how big a role confidence plays when I’m on the mound.  Can’t just go out there and expect things to go my way, I have to build confidence throughout the week in my routine and bullpen, and also trust my stuff.  Feel like those two go hand in hand.  I’m focusing on getting bigger and dominating the strike zone to prepare for 2024.“

Pitching Coordinator Travis Hergert : “Pitching the entire season from start to finish without injury and logging 110+ innings was huge.  He added and is still refining his two seamer to be able to run something in on righties and open up the curve ball/slider away.  I thought the curve ball really turned into a major weapon and the change-up took huge strides forward.  I think what we saw the last two months of the season was a young man that matured a lot in his mental preparation and makeup.  He’s still learning every time he goes out there.”

2024 Projection :  likely begins the season with AAA Lehigh Valley as part of the rotation.  It’s also likely that he will make his major league debut at some point during the season.

LHP Samuel Aldegheri - 22 years old - signed as an international free agent 7/2/19  - Verona, Italy

2023 Stats : 20 appearances, 19 starts between Clearwater and Jersey Shore - 4.20 ERA in 83 2/3 IP - 15 games with Clearwater (67 2/3 IP), 4 games with Jersey Shore (16 IP) - 99 K’s, 23 BB, .245 BAA, 1.35 WHIP - 62 % strike ratio - averaged 16.94 pitches per inning.

2023 Notes :  Samuel opened the season strong as part of a collective no hitter on 4/8/23 against Bradenton. He threw four perfect innings and struck out seven batters.  He’s sneaky fast which was our initial impression when we saw him in 2019 Fall Instructs with a fastball sitting in the 90 to 94 mph range with the four seamer being used predominantly, however he also possesses a sinker which he combines with a slider, changeup and curve ball.   He’s a battler and has good baseball smarts.  There’s decent movement on his pitches which generates swings and misses.  Missed most of the 2022 season with injuries and came into this year with just 33 innings pitched in his career, proved that he can handle a full season workload with an eye towards even more innings next year - will work on strength and conditioning to do so.  I see a lefty who’s got pitch ability skills and stuff that can play at the upper levels.

Sam’s reflections  : “After the injuries that I have had in the last few years I think to stay healthy was the biggest thing for me this past season. Talking about the off-season I’m not focusing on just one thing but trying to focus on everything possible to get better.”

Pitching Coordinator Travis Hergert : “Health and physical development were two of his biggest goals in 2023. Sam’s slider has progressed really nicely and he continues to advance with his change-up. He was able to keep his walk rate down and control the strike zone this season and reached 80+ innings.”

2024 Projection :  likely return to Jersey Shore to begin the year with a in-season bump to Reading as a plan.

Luis Alcala - 22 years old - signed as an international free agent 4/2/19 - Guiria, Venezuela

2023 Stats :   Was promoted from the Dominican Summer League to the Florida Complex League Phillies on 7/2/23.  Overall he pitched in 16 games (seven in DSL and 9 in FCL) recording an overall ERA of 3.31 in 35 1/3 IP (14 2/3 in DSL - 0.00 ERA, 20 2/3 in FCL - 5.66 ERA), 1.47 WHIP, .255 BAA, 71 % strike ratio and a 7.98 average pitches per inning.

2023 Notes : we saw Luis quite a bit in the back fields this summer, he’s a strike thrower and he generally was used in relief, in particular to close down opposing rallies.  He made one start and it was his best outing, five shutout frames on August 15th against the FCL Blue Jays where he allowed just three hits and one walk while striking out six batters.  This year was his first stateside after three years in the DSL plus the 2020 non-season.   Has a fastball, change-up, curve ball mix with fastball generally 89 to 90 mph.

2024 Projection : should compete for a full-season roster spot - low A level likely.

Shaun Anderson - 28 years old - signed as a free agent 7/20/23 - was Red Sox 3rd round draft selection - 2016 - Florida

2023 Stats : made eleven starts for AAA Lehigh Valley posting a 4.85 ERA in 52 IP with a 1.42 WHIP.  Struck out 35 batters and walked 15, 63 % strike ratio, averaged 16.15 pitches per inning.  Pitched well in September and ate up innings - in four starts threw 26 1/3 innings with a 3.08 ERA, 23 strikeouts and just four walks - a 1.03 WHIP.

2023 Notes : has played in 63 major league games with the Giants, Twins, Orioles, Padres and Blue Jays.  He was pitching in the Korea Baseball Organization this year for the Kia Tigers and made 14 starts there before returning stateside and signing with the Phillies.  He provided a steady, veteran influence for Lehigh Valley, he went five or more innings in seven of his starts.  Used his slider as a primary pitch with curve, change-up, sinker and four seamer.  Fastball range is generally 89 to 92 mph.

2024 Projection : Is eligible for minor league free agency

Erubiel Armenta - 23 years old - signed as an international free agent 7/11/19 - Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico

2023 Stats :  did not pitch in 2023 due to injury - was placed on the injured list on April 20th.  We’ve seen him at the complex on the hill recently in side sessions as he works towards returning for the 2024 season.  He posted a 3.60 ERA during the 2022 season with Jersey Shore in forty innings of work - a 1.35 WHIP,  .161 BAA, 59 % strike ratio and averaged 18.4 pitches per inning.

2023 Notes : He was nicknamed “Everyday Erubiel” during the 2022 season by Jersey Shore Director of Communications Greg Giombarrese due to his “rubber arm” ability to seemingly pitch everyday.  He has a big body and a recoil delivery that reminds me of Aroldis Chapman, generally sits mid 90’s with his fastball - has late ride and life - changeup is a strikeout pitch.  Mechanics sometimes get out of kilter which causes him to fly open and command wanes but when consistent and aligned to the target he’s a weapon. Loves to pitch and will always take the baseball.  Has a three pitch mix - when healthy the fastball has a natural lefty tail and is generally in the 94-95 mph range - was a tick down this year in rehab work (91-93) but that’s to be expected, also uses a slider and change-up.   We first saw him in the Mexican Winter League in 2021 where he flashed 96-97 mph, has the moxy, stuff and makeup to pitch at upper levels.

2024 Projection : will miss the 2024 season

Happy Day, Happy Baseball ⚾️

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