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  • Writer's pictureSteve Potter

6/14/24 : Spotlight - LHP Sam Aldegheri

Last night Sam Aldegheri pitched six scoreless innings allowing just two hits and two walks while striking out nine batters in a 5-0 Jersey Shore BlueClaws win.  The twenty-two year old left-hander from Verona, Italy has a 5-3 record this season in ten starts (54 IP) with a 2.67 ERA and 0.93 WHIP.  He’s struck out 74 batters, walked 22 and has averaged 88 pitches per outing (he threw 103 pitches last night and has averaged 94 pitches per outing in his last seven starts with three of those at 100 plus pitches - he’s went six or more innings in four of those games).

Signed on 7/2/19 by scout Claudio Scerrato we first saw him pitch stateside in Fall Instructs of that year in Clearwater - I remember him pitching an inning at the stadium and how he attacked the hitters, as I recall he struck out the side.  It was a lasting first impression as he’s continued to grow in his development.  There wasn’t much league game action in Sam’s first three seasons - 2020 was lost to the pandemic and his 2021-2022 seasons were spent mostly in rehab working back from injuries - he pitched in just 16 games with the FCL Phillies and the Clearwater Threshers over those two seasons totalling 33.1 innings.  Yet every time we saw him on the mound in actual game action we came away impressed - initially during his 8 game stint in the 2022 FCL when he posted a 1.46 ERA in 12.1 innings from mid July to the end of the FCL season in August.  It set up expectations for the coming year.

Sam opened 2023 with the Clearwater Threshers in a fully healthy mode and he immediately shined.  In his first start of the season at Bradenton he started and pitched four innings in a five pitcher no hitter against the Marauders striking out seven batters in a 3-0 win.  He became a key component of the Threshers first half championship and accumulated a 3-1 record in 16 appearances (15 starts) with a. 3.86 ERA in 67.2 IP earning a promotion to Jersey Shore on 8/3/23 where he finished the season making four more starts (16 IP). The total of 83.2 innings for 2023 was a career high and provided expanded evidence of what we saw back in 2019.

Last night’s game was the second time this season that Sam has went six scoreless frames in a contest (also did so on 4/13/24) - in fact he’s been the starter in three shutout wins (4/13 - 13-0 vs Hickory,  4/25 - 5 innings in a 1-0 win against Aberdeen and last night’s 6 innings in a 5-0 victory over Wilmington).  In eight of his ten starts he’s yielded two runs or less.

When I spotlight Phillies minor league pitchers I always try to obtain Minor League Pitching Coordinator Travis Hergert’s input because he’s very knowledgeable, really explains the development approach and helps put perspective into focus.  Travis had this to say about Sam - “Sam had 80+ innings last year and pitched from April to September which was a huge priority and win for him in his development. This off-season we wanted to foucs on range of motion and overall stabilty in his delivery, with the goal of adding to his pitch velocity.  We also had him work hard on the development of his change-up to combat right-handed hitters. That pitch has made great strides. We are slowly adding the increased usage to the curve ball to steal strikes early in counts.”

This morning I was able to interact with Sam and ask him a few questions - here’s our Q & A session.

I remember the first time I saw you was in Fall Instructs in 2019, I believe your parents were here in Clearwater then also - have they been able to watch you pitch this season as well?

They along with my girlfriend were in Florida for spring training, they attended the prospect game in Lakeland, it was the first time for them to see me pitching in pro ball. Really emotional for both sides. Unfortunately I don’t think they will come over again this season, but I know they wake up every night to watch my games. (They’re 6 hours ahead).”

The first four years of your career were limited in appearances due to a few injuries and the lost 2020 season - how did you manage that time and persevere to continue to work - how did you keep your focus ?

“I just wanted to play. I was spending every day in rehab working hard with the image in my head of me playing. The rehab staff that we have is amazing, they push you every day. I think spending time there changed my life a lot, I don’t know how to explain it but now I see baseball and even life different. I’m not gonna lie, after my second injury I almost thought that maybe was time to give up.  It’s really hard when you are trying to chase your dreams far from home,family and friends but injuries are stopping you. Thank God I didn’t and now here we are.”

Last season you made 20 appearances and pitched 83.2 innings starting in Clearwater and finishing in Jersey Shore - how satisfying was it to play an entire season and perform very well ?

Coming off injuries and having the possibility to play a full season was amazing.  As I said I just want to play and have fun (and win). Also we were winning a lot,so it made everything even better.

This season you have had a great first half and the team is in contention for a playoff spot, it’s two years in a row that teams you’ve been on are in the playoff chase - many of the players were also your teammates in Clearwater - how has the group bonded as a unit, what is the team chemistry like?

We want to win, that’s our main goal. It doesn’t matter where you are from or what language you speak, if you help the team win then you’re part of the family.  Most of us played together last year so the chemistry is the same. Go out have fun and win, I think that’s our mentality.”

When you start games is it your mentality to go deep into the game?  How much pride do you take in doing so?

Yes as a starter I always try to go at least five-plus, it’s my job. I give everything on the mound till the last pitch, I want to do my part and help the team win. Also we play six days a week and we need the bullpen, I just try to save some arms if I can.”

What is your approach to pitching - do you pitch to contact or are you trying to strike hitters out?  What is your pitch mix and which pitch do you think is your best?  Are you comfortable throwing all of your pitches at any point in the count?

“My job is to get outs, I don’t care how, but if you are in two strike count I want to get the strike out. My fastball and slider are my bread and butter as my pitching coaches say, but I think the curve ball and the change are getting better and are really good weapons. I feel comfortable to throw every pitch at every count, just fill up the strike zone,that’s my approach.”

Lastly - when you return home to Italy where do you train in the off-season?  Do you take some time off from throwing or do you continue to do so?

“Usually I take a little break in general to spend time with my family and friends. I take a week off from the gym and a month from throwing. I’m lucky because I have a baseball field five minutes from where I live so it’s really easy to follow the throwing program, and then I just workout in a public gym that I have gone to since I was 15 years old.”

Thanks to Sam and Coach Hergert for taking the time to answer our inquiries - I still remember the then teenage lefty who impressed in the fall of 2019 - it’s been great fun to see him continue to develop to the point where he’s certainly put himself in line for another promotion.  The young man is determined to make it to the major leagues and become the first Italian born and raised pitcher to do so (Marino Pieretti appeared in 194 games as a pitcher from 1945-50 but moved to America before he turned one. Alex Liddi, an infielder, played 61 games for the Mariners from 2011-13. He was the first one raised in Italy to reach the majors).  I would not bet against him - as he said he just wants to play and win - I have no doubts in his ability to do both!

Happy Day, Happy Baseball ⚾️

Written by The Joke 🥸

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