11/23/22 : Free Agent Spotlights Series
Just for fun and with the Winter Meetings in sight I thought I’d start a mini series highlighting some free agents ( both major and minor leaguers ) that might fit with the Phillies. A lot of attention has been focused on the four premier shortstops on the market so I will steer clear of that ( though, in my opinion Trea Turner is and has always been the target ). This series will spotlight pitchers - the team is seeking a starter and like everyone else relievers to strengthen the bullpen.
I will try to highlight both a major league free agent and a minor league free agent in each article and intersperse them between my riveting pieces on the Phillies minor leaguers I continue to profile - so here goes - part one.
Starting Pitcher :
RHP Taijuan Walker : 30 years old - played last season for New York Mets
Scouting Report : has six pitches in his mix ( four seamer, sinker, cutter, slider, curve, splitter ) - fast ball sits 92 to 94 mph - flashes mid nineties. Has been quite durable the last two seasons - 159 IP in 30 appearances in 2021 and 157 1/3 IP in 29 appearances in 2022. His splitter is flat out nasty ( uses it about 30 percent of the time ) however he uses every pitch in his repertoire - all are good quality deliveries. He went six innings or more in 14 of his 29 starts last season and at least five innings in 9 others. Posted a 12-5 record with a 3.49 ERA in 2022 - was an All-Star selection in 2021
Contract Projections : is projecting a deal in the three/four year, $13-$14M AAV range. Represented by Excel Sports Management.
Notes : would provide stability in the rotation - for past three seasons he posts regularly each time his turn comes up - generally gives a professional performance and keeps his team in the game with a chance to win. Those are all good things over the course of a long season.
RHP Guillermo Zuniga : 24 years old - played last season with AA Tulsa - Dodgers organization
Scouting Report : according to a recent Baseball America article written by Geoff Pontes Zuniga has three legitimate above-average or better pitches - “four-seam fastball sits 96-98 mph with high spin rates, he pairs that with a high-80s changeup with tumble and fade and a high-spin low-90s sweeping slider with bite. He shows above-average command of his slider but below-average command of both his fastball and changeup.”
He’s a big fella at 6’5” 230 and has pitched at the AA level the last two seasons - 73 appearances - 90 IP - 115 K’s - 43 walks - a 4.10 ERA which equates to his minor league average of 4.08 in 131 games - 227 1/3 IP
Contract Projections : will sign a minor league contract - has never pitched in the big leagues.
Notes : was originally signed by Atlanta in 2016 from Cartagena, Colombia - signed by the Dodgers as a free agent in 2017 when the Braves were penalized for improprieties in their international operations. Could be an interesting project for the Phillies Player Development staff with a potential big league outcome.
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