11/14/23 : Annual Phillies Minor League Player Notes - Pitchers - Part Seventeen
Last off-season I started a different writing venture - rather than producing a hard copy version of what was an annual Phillies Minor League Digest I went with a new approach and posted a series of articles on the webpage instead. A large portion of the digest was my player notes - views that are not entirely built upon seasonal or short term stats - while I referenced them I relied more upon my observations and feedback from players and coaches.
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 that finished the 2023 season with the organization. I can attest that I actually watched most every Phillies minor league game each evening, attended practices and interacted with a vast amount of players, coaches, scouts and front office folks. Recently I 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 and player development leadership.
The initial set of articles will be on pitchers. I’ll present notes on pitchers in alphabetical order. The first sixteen articles previously published - see the links if you missed them. Today we focus on group seventeen.
Group 17 : Michael Plassmeyer, Alex Rao, Jason Ruffcorn, Matt Russell, Luke Russo
Group 1 : Mick Abel, Samuel Aldegheri, Luis Alcala, Shaun Anderson, Erubiel Armenta - https://www.philliesbaseballfan.com/post/10-10-23-annual-phillies-minor-league-player-notes-pitchers-part-one
Group 2 : Konnor Ash, Andrew Baker, Brandon Beckel, Carlos Betancourt - https://www.philliesbaseballfan.com/post/10-26-23-annual-phillies-minor-league-player-notes-pitchers-part-two
Group 3 : Malik Binns, Josh Bortka, Ben Bowden, Connor Brogdon, Blake Brown - https://www.philliesbaseballfan.com/post/10-27-23-annual-phillies-minor-league-player-notes-pitchers-part-three
Group 4 : Cam Brown, Jean Cabrera, Eiberson Castellano, Starlyn Castillo, Ethan Chenault, Ty Collins - https://www.philliesbaseballfan.com/post/10-30-23-annual-phillies-minor-league-player-notes-pitchers-part-four
Group 5 : Gabriel Cotto, Hans Crouse, Jack Dallas, Trey Dillard, Jake Eddington - https://www.philliesbaseballfan.com/post/10-31-23-annual-phillies-minor-league-player-notes-pitchers-part-five
Group 6 : Jaydenn Estanista, Braeden Fausnaught, Jordan Fowler, Carlos Francisco, Javier Fuenmayor - https://www.philliesbaseballfan.com/post/11-1-23-annual-phillies-minor-league-player-notes-pitchers-part-six
Group 7 : Marty Gair, Alex Garbrick, Eric Garcia, Tristan Garnett, Drew Garrett - https://www.philliesbaseballfan.com/post/11-2-23-annual-phillies-minor-league-player-notes-pitchers-part-seven
Group 8 : Luis Gomez, Mavis Graves, Zach Haake, Daniel Harper, Josh Hendrickson - https://www.philliesbaseballfan.com/post/11-3-23-annual-phillies-minor-league-player-notes-pitchers-part-eight
Group 9 : Jonh Henriquez, Cristian Hernandez, Jakob Hernandez, Chase Hopewell, Drew Hutchinson - https://www.philliesbaseballfan.com/post/11-6-23-annual-phillies-minor-league-player-notes-pitchers-part-nine
Group 10 : Estibenzon Jimenez, Damon Jones, Nate Karaffa, Orion Kerkering, Keylan Killgore - https://www.philliesbaseballfan.com/post/11-7-23-annual-phillies-minor-league-player-notes-pitchers-part-ten
Group 11 : George Klassen, Taylor Lehman, Adam Leverett, Hunter Loyd, Rafael Marcano - https://www.philliesbaseballfan.com/post/11-8-23-annual-phillies-minor-league-player-notes-pitchers-part-eleven
Group 12 : Jordi Martinez, Gunner Mayer, Tommy McCollum, Alex McFarlane, Griff McGarry - https://www.philliesbaseballfan.com/post/11-9-23-annual-phillies-minor-league-player-notes-pitchers-part-twelve
Group 13 : Christian McGowan, Tyler McKay, Oswald Medina, Daniel Mejia, Jhordany Mezquita - https://www.philliesbaseballfan.com/post/11-10-23-annual-phillies-minor-league-player-notes-pitchers-part-thirteen
Group 14 : McKinley Moore, Wesley Moore, Nick Nelson, Mitch Neunborn, Luis Ortiz - https://www.philliesbaseballfan.com/post/11-11-23-annual-phillies-minor-league-player-notes-pitchers-part-fourteen
Group 15 : Matt Osterberg, Micah Ottenbreit, Andrew Painter, Wen Hui Pan, David Parkinson - https://www.philliesbaseballfan.com/post/11-12-23-annual-phillies-minor-league-player-notes-pitchers-part-fifteen
Group 16 : Jose Pena Jr, Hector Perez, Jonathan Petit, Tyler Phillips, Dominic Pipkin - https://www.philliesbaseballfan.com/post/11-13-23-annual-phillies-minor-league-player-notes-pitchers-part-sixteen
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 seventeenth article in the 2023 series on pitchers ⚾️🤓.
LHP Michael Plassmeyer - 26 years old - acquired in trade with Giants for Catcher Austin Wynns 6/8/22
2023 Stats : made 19 minor league appearances (17 starts) accumulating 75.2 innings posting a 4.64 ERA with 83 strikeouts and 31 walks. Averaged 17.11 pitches per inning pitched and had a 66 % strike ratio. Three of his appearances were with Jersey Shore on rehab assignment (8 IP - 1.13 ERA) as he was on the IL from 5/25 till 8/9. At the AAA level Lehigh Valley he posted a 5.05 ERA in 16 appearances (14 starts) in 67.2 IP with a WHIP of 1.46, 74 strikeouts and 30 walks. Made a start for the Phillies on 9/30/23 against the Mets.
2023 Notes : releases the ball from a low arm slot and is consistently in the strike zone. Is not a high velocity pitcher but uses a three pitch mix, generally hits spots and throws quality strikes and has a change up as a strikeout pitch. Fastball (sits in a range of 87 to 91 mph - max 92), slider and change up. Spent a good bit of time at the complex this summer with the rehab team working back from injury.
2024 Projection : minor league free agent
RHP Alex Rao - 23 years old - drafted in 8th round of the 2022 draft from University of Notre Dame, IN
2023 Stats : appeared in 16 games (15 with Clearwater Threshers and 1 with FCL Phillies) posting a 5.79 ERA in 28 IP. He recorded 33 strikeouts and 14 walks with a 1.50 WHIP. Averaged 17.36 pitches per inning pitched and had a 58 % strikeout ratio. Was a starter/opener at the beginning of the year for the Threshers making six starts. Went on the IL on 6/2 and didn’t return to game action till 8/22/23.
2023 Notes : added a cutter to a previous three pitch mix this spring (fastball -sits in a range of 93 to 96 mph - max 98, slider, splitter) and hopes were to extend him out as a starting pitcher, he was a reliever in college. Spent a good deal of time this summer on the IL but was able to return in August and made six appearances (all as a reliever including one in the playoffs). Fastball has life and splitter is an out maker.
Alex’s reflections : “Personally, I think I was exposed to a lot more in terms of ways to grow and where I can get better, so it’s exciting to see that I still have a lot of ways to improve and grow. From the org perspective, it kind of goes hand in hand in that they have so many ways for us to develop and can give us a pretty clear picture on how to get there, which I think is a testament to both how much they’ve invested in player development and how skilled the staff as a whole is. Obviously being on the IL isn’t what I wanted to happen or even expected, but the org as a whole did an incredible job of making rehab an opportunity rather than a negative place.”
2024 Projection : could bump up to Jersey Shore out of spring camp
RHP Jason Ruffcorn - 25 years old - drafted in 8th round of the 2021 draft from Oklahoma University, OK
2023 Stats : recorded a 4-1 record and a 5.01 ERA in 44 games (50.1 IP) with 52 strikeouts and 22 walks with a 1.43 WHIP. Averaged 17.66 pitches per inning pitched and had a 63 % strike ratio. Pitched a perfect inning with two strikeouts in the playoffs. Had an excellent month of June - eight appearances - 10 IP, 2.70 ERA with 12 strikeouts and one walk.
2023 Notes : is a battler who will take the ball in any situation or role. A dependable reliever and innings eater who completed his second full season with Jersey Shore. Was promoted to Reading on 9/17/23 but didn’t get into a game there. Has a five pitch arsenal - fastball sits in a range of 90 to 93 mph, cutter, slider, change up and curve.
Jason’s reflections : “Biggest takeaway is I don’t have to be more than I am. Obviously I want to throw harder, have better stuff but in reality I throw hard enough and I have more than enough stuff to get anyone out. Seeing guys in the big leagues throw 91-93 and be very good has kinda opened my eyes. Focus this off-season is be more loose and have better body control.”
2024 Projection : finished the 2023 season at Reading, likely starts there after spring camp as part of a solid bullpen.
RHP Matt Russell - 24 years old - signed as an un-drafted free agent 7/21/21 - Missouri State University
2023 Stats : appeared in 39 games (46.1 IP) with a 5.24 ERA with 41 strikeouts and 26 walks. Had a 1.58 WHIP, averaged 17.12 pitches per inning pitched and posted a 60 % strike ratio. Had an outstanding month of August - nine appearances - 9.1 IP - 0.96 ERA, 0.96 WHIP and a .176 BAA. Pitched a scoreless inning in the playoffs.
2023 Notes : is fun to watch as he will alter his delivery ala Nestor Cortes and throw in different leg kicks, spins and even arm angles to throw off the hitters. He can push the fastball consistently in the mid nineties and flashes higher - has a four pitch mix - fastball sits in a range of 92 to 94 mph - max 96, slider, change up and cutter.
2024 Projection : likely breaks spring camp with AA level Reading
RHP Luke Russo - 22 years old - drafted in 16th round of the 2023 draft from Eastern Michigan University, MI
2023 Stats : did not play in a pro game
2023 Notes : threw 78 innings during the collegiate season and tied with Eastern Michigan University legend Bob Owchinko for the third most strikeouts in a single-season with 107 on the year. Set career-highs in wins (6), appearances (17), starts (11), saves (two), innings pitched (78), and strikeouts (107). His 107 punch outs ranked first in the MAC. Finished the season ranked top five in the conference in opponent batting average (7th - .223), innings pitched (8th- 78), strikeouts (1st- 107), strikeouts looking (3rd – 34), wins (8th – 6), hits allowed (10th – 66), walks allowed (6th – 25), and doubles allowed (10th – 12). I have yet to see him pitch in person but we’ve chatted a couple times at the complex - very upbeat young man.
Luke’s reflections : “Hi Steve! I actually did not throw in any minor league games this year since I threw a lot in college. But I am focusing on putting on more muscle as it will help me increase velocity. Also I am going to create smaller targets so that my control can get even better.”
2024 Projection : will likely be part of the Clearwater Threshers opening day roster
Happy Day, Happy Baseball ⚾️
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