11/8/23 : Annual Phillies Minor League Player Notes - Pitchers - Part Eleven
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 (191 in total) 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 103 pitchers done in alphabetical order. The first ten articles previously published - see the links if you missed them. Today we focus on group eleven.
Group 11 : George Klassen, Taylor Lehman, Adam Leverett, Hunter Loyd, Rafael Marcano
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
The following groups will be discussed in future articles :
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 eleventh article in the 2023 series on pitchers ⚾️🤓.
RHP George Klassen - 21 years old - drafted in 6th round of the 2023 draft from the University of Minnesota, MN
2023 Stats : did not appear in a game during the season
2023 Notes : We saw George throw a live BP session in August at the complex, what we witnessed was an effortless delivery with the ball exploding on arrival at the dish, big time heat - word is he was at 98 mph that day and it looked really smooth, also threw what I believe was a slider, sharp break on a few of those. He’s not a big fella but the torque and speed he delivers pitches defy that, I had read he has “significant effort” in his delivery, I saw none of that in my first impression. In his other bullpen sessions velocity had reached 102 mph. I found the following notes on him from MLB notes prior to the draft - “Klassen may have the quickest arm in the entire Draft, producing a fastball that averages 98 mph with running action, and he has reached triple digits in most of his outings. He has an 82-86 mph curveball and a sharper 83-88 mph slider, and both can be plus breaking balls when he can command them.”
2024 Projection : an opening day roster spot with the Clearwater Threshers seems likely.
LHP Taylor Lehman - 27 years old - signed as an un-drafted free agent 6/18/18 - Penn State University, PA
2023 Stats : appeared as a reliever in 50 games (52 IP) for AA Reading (13 games - 17.2 IP - 3.06 ERA, 0.85 WHIP) and AAA Lehigh Valley (37 games - 34.1 IP - 4.19 ERA, 1.46 WHIP) with 49 strikeouts and 31 walks. Averaged 15.71 pitches per inning pitched and had a 58 % strike ratio. Finished the season strong with a 2.84 ERA in six September appearances (6.1 IP) for Lehigh Valley, had two other months with ERA’s under three - April - 2.61 in 7 games - 10.1 IP and July - 2.45 in 7 games (7.1 IP). Was solid most every time out, absent two appearances in which he was tagged for six runs in an inning and a third his ERA in the other 35 appearances for Lehigh Valley was 2.72 in 33 games (33 IP).
2023 Notes : Taylor began the year with Reading and was promoted to Lehigh Valley on May 22nd. He’s a tall (6’8”), lanky southpaw with a three pitch arsenal (four seam fastball 90 to 93 mph - touches 95), sinker and curve although basically relies on the four seamer and curve. Gets good spin and tailing action on the four seamer, curve ball has big vertical break. He returned to action in 2022 and also pitched in the Arizona Fall League after missing most of the previous two seasons rehabbing from TJ surgery. This season was his first full season of action since the recovery. He’s another young fella we got to know a bit during his rehab time at the complex, very intelligent and knows his craft, interesting conversations on pitch release and design. Is pitching this winter in the Dominican League for Tigres del Licey.
2024 Projection : in my opinion he deserves a look in big league spring training, has major league capabilities.
RHP Adam Leverett - 25 years old - drafted in 15th round of the 2019 draft from Gordon State JC, Georgia
2023 Stats : made 35 appearances (eight starts) for AA level Reading amassing 64 innings and posting a 3.94 ERA with 52 strikeouts and 27 walks. He averaged 16.59 pitches per inning pitched and had a 63 % strike ratio. He pitched two or more innings in 17 of the games he pitched in serving as both a bulk reliever and spot starter. This was his third consecutive year pitching for Reading.
2023 Notes : a very likable young man, he’s pitched in multiple roles since being in the organization. Last season (2022) converted to a bulk reliever and has filled the position for two years running with Reading. Will throw a fastball (90 to 94 mph), changeup, slider and curve. He’s a command and control pitcher, knows how to pitch and attacks hitters. Change up is an out pitch - deceptive with downward plane movement and tilt.
2024 Projection : Traded to Tampa Rays 11/6/23 for RHP Michael Mercado
RHP Hunter Loyd - 23 years old - signed as an un-drafted free agent 7/18/23 - Campbell University, NC
2023 Stats : made two appearances with the FCL Phillies - one inning pitched in total - no runs, two hits, one strikeout and then pitched in four games (5 IP) posting a 1.80 ERA with four strikeouts and two walks for Low A Clearwater. An overall 1.33 WHIP and averaged 13.83 pitches per innings pitched, had a 64 % strike ratio.
2023 Notes : I’ve seen him throw three times - windup reminds me a lot of Konnor Ash (Jersey Shore) in the way he delivers the baseball, hides it well, tough to pick it up out of the hand. In the game outing we saw a hard slider that was a swing and miss type pitch. He’s been a starter throughout his collegiate career, pitched for East Tennessee State for three seasons before transferring to Campbell.
2024 Projection : likely opens the season with the Clearwater Threshers
LHP Rafael Marcano - 23 years old - signed as an international free agent 4/25/18 - Punta Cardon, Venezuela
2023 Stats : appeared in 23 games (20 starts) for High A Jersey Shore posting a 3.95 ERA in 93.1 IP with 97 strikeouts and 42 walks. He had a 1.36 WHIP averaging 16.16 pitches per innings pitched with a 62 % strike ratio. It was his second stint with the BlueClaws as he made 10 starts for them in 2022. Had an outstanding month of August this year winning the organization’s pitcher of the month award - a 1.27 ERA in four starts (21.1 IP) with 24 strikeouts and 7 walks, a 1.03 WHIP - opponents hit just .203 against him in the four games. Made his first playoff appearance as well starting the 9/15/23 game versus Hudson Valley.
2023 Notes : uses a five pitch mix - four seam fastball, sinker, cutter, slider & changeup - he’s comparable in style, delivery and competitiveness to Ranger Suarez. Rafael threw more innings this season than any other to date in his career. Fastballs are in a range of 90 to 94 mph - max 95. Has a fun spirit and welcoming personality, is a popular teammate. No situation too big for him to handle, smooth repeatable delivery. Two solid secondary offerings. Had a good season showing the ability to pitch every week in the rotation, excelled in August.
Rafael’s reflections : “2023 was a season of good learning, I learned to know myself much more when I am pitching, for 2024 I will improve on everything to move forward.”
Jersey Shore Pitching Coach Phil Cundari : “Had quite a year, pitcher of the month in August. Made big strides developing his pitches and becoming more of a strike thrower over the course of the year, enabled him to go deeper in games. Learned to sequence pitches, four seamer, sinker, cutter, changeup and slider. Really progressed with his changeup - was remarkable the way it advanced over the season. Brady (Brady Lail - JS assistant pitching coach) worked really well with him. Has a gritty personality who competes very well. With a bit more consistent velocity on fastball, can become really good every time out, just a tick, if can sit in the 91-93 range with the fastball coupled with his repertoire can pitch well at upper levels. He’s committed this off-season to getting stronger to do so.”
2024 Projection : likely part of the opening day rotation at AA level Reading.
Happy Day, Happy Baseball ⚾️
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