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  • Writer's pictureSteve Potter

8/11/23 : Stockpiling the Pen - Part Three of Three

Third in a three part series on the bullpen crews in the Phillies minor league system.

First part was on Lehigh Valley - if ya missed that one here’s a link -

Second part was on Reading  - if ya missed that one here’s a link -

Today we write about the Jersey Shore and Clearwater relievers, both teams have winning records and for each pitching has excelled, particularly the bullpens - in fact in regards to Jersey Shore  “since the start of the second half, the BlueClaws have a 2.56 bullpen ERA (55 ER in 193.2 IP with 206 strikeouts and 73 walks).  That is the best bullpen ERA in all of High-A in that period (since June 23rd).  In the last 18 games (since July 21st), over which the BlueClaws are 15-3, their bullpen ERA is 1.46 (14 ER in 86.1 IP).  - Greg Giombarrese - BlueClaws Director of Communications.

Here’s a look at a few.

Jersey Shore :

LHP Wesley Moore (23 years old - signed 11/9/22 - Kansas State University) - attended and played for  Vauxhall High School in Vauxhall, Alberta, Canada as well as the Team Canada Junior National Team, pitched in the 18U World Cup as a teenager.  A scout from another organization who saw him a lot as an amateur said that Wesley impressed as a strong competitor who seemingly always shined in big moments, no fear.  We’ve seen that this summer, he began the year with Clearwater and posted a stellar 0.72 ERA in 17 games (25 IP) with 39 K’s and 12 walks.  Promoted to Jersey Shore on 6/13/23 Wesley has continued to excel with a 2.29 ERA to date in 18 appearances (19 2/3 IP) with 26 K’s and 8 walks, opponents collectively are hitting just .165 against him.  In eleven of his 35 appearances he’s went more than an inning, two innings in nine of them.  He was named the organization’s pitcher of the month for May.  He features a sinking fastball (sits in the 92 to 94 mph range) curve and changeup with the change being an out-maker, has strong mechanics and a differential of around 15 mph with the change-up off the fastball.  His release point and arm speed are aligned on all of his pitches, smooth mechanics, which is ideal making it difficult to distinguish the pitches out of his hand.

LHP Jordi Martinez (23 years old - signed as an international free agent 1/22/18 - Santiago, Dominican Republic) - we first saw Jordi pitch in 2019 Fall Instructs and came away thinking “Wow” - ball seemed to jump out of his hand.  This year he converted to a full time reliever after making 34 starts in his first four years of play.  The changeover has worked well, he’s appeared in 37 games (45 1/3 IP) with a 3.57 ERA posting 55 K’s and 23 walks.  The stuff we saw in 2019 still plays, features a fastball in the 93 to 97 range and has reached higher, a change up and slider.  He’s pitched more than an inning in nine of his appearances and two or more frames in seven games.  Generally used in the 8th and 9th innings of games Jordi had an outstanding month of June posting a 1.35 ERA in 10 appearances (13 1/3 IP).  He’s incorporated more of his lower half in his delivery as I remember when we initially saw him it was a straight up style that seemingly would place more stress on the elbow, in fact he has lost time with arm issues in the past.  Coming out of the bullpen has allowed Jordi to open the throttle on his pitches, the fastball velocity has always been something we’ve seen but not as consistent as this year.  Good stuff.

RHP Jack Dallas (24 years old - signed as an un-drafted free agent 8/1/22 - Lamar University) - excelled at Clearwater earlier this year recording a 0.60 ERA in 19 appearances (30 IP) with 31 K’s and 12 walks.  Was promoted to Jersey Shore on 6/13/23 and has continued to do well with a 2.38 ERA in 15 games (22 2/3 IP) with 26 K’s and just 4 walks.  Jack is often deployed in inherited runner situations as he’s a strike thrower who gets after the hitters, has pitched more than an inning in 19 of his 34 appearances, two or more innings in 16 games.  He’s coming off an outstanding month of July where he posted a 0.90 ERA in 7 games (10 IP).  He’s no stranger to high pressure game spots as he graduated from Lamar as their all-time leader in saves and appearances.  His fastball, a sinker, generally is in the 91 to 94 range and he also features a cutter, slider, curve and change up. He gets tremendous spin on his fastball and curve in particular, above the big league average.  The movement on those pitches makes it very difficult for hitters to square them up which is reflected in the cumulative  .202 batting average against him this season.

LHP Andrew Walling (23 years old - signed as an un-drafted free agent 8/1/22 - Mississippi State University) - began the year at Clearwater where he posted a 3.23 ERA in 26 appearances (39 IP) with 46 K’s and 26 walks.  Was promoted to Jersey Shore on 7/26/23 and has appeared in five games (6 IP) with a 1.50 ERA,  8 K’s, 1 walk.  Hitters are batting .197 against him collectively so far.  During spring training I had a scout ask me who was the lefty throwing on Ashburn Field with the live arm, he couldn’t believe that Andrew went un-drafted and thought the Phillies had made a real discovery.  Andrew is a two pitch reliever with a fastball consistently in the 93 to 97 mph range and a sharp slider.  In 14 of his 31 appearances he’s pitched more than an inning, in 11 of those he’s went two or more frames, the most being a three and one third inning stint on May 12th.

RHP Carlos Betancourt (22 years old - signed as an international free agent 7/2/17 from Cumana, Venezuela) - Carlos has been the epitome of the bulk reliever this season, he’s made 30 appearances with all but one being in relief and has thrown 61 1/3 innings to date with 25 being multi inning performances.  He’s gone three or more innings seven times and two innings plus fourteen times.  Carlos has also pitched for Zulia in the Venezuelan Winter League the past three seasons.  We initially saw him on the backfields where he spent his first four years in the GCL and FCL before being assigned to the Threshers last summer.  He will throw a four pitch mix (four seam FB, Slider, Curve & Changeup) with the fastball generally in the 91 to 93 mph range but flashing at times as high as 95 to 96.  He’s capable of being a strikeout pitcher as evidenced by his 71 K’s this season. Loves to pitch and will take the ball every time he’s asked, is working towards adding a sinker to his pitch mix.

RHP Cam Wynne (24 years old - 2021 20th round draft selection - University of Nebraska) - has quietly had a very good season appearing in 25 games (27 2/3 IP) with a 2.28 ERA and 0.94 WHIP, opponents are hitting just .162 against him.  Cam spent a large part of last season at the Complex with the rehab group, he did appear in 16 games with the Threshers and posted a 1.25 ERA in 21 2/3 innings pitched.  This year he broke spring camp with Jersey Shore and has been solid all season when called upon.  He’s a power arm with the fastball ranging between 93 to 97 mph, also has a slider and changeup and mixes in a cutter.

RHP Konnor Ash (24 years old - signed as an un-drafted free agent - 7/20/21 - University of Missouri) - started the season with the rehab group in Clearwater, was activated on 6/15/23 and assigned to Clearwater where he made five appearances posting a 3.60 ERA in five innings pitched.  Promoted to Jersey Shore on 7/7/23 and has appeared in nine games (11 1/3 IP) with a 1.59 ERA, 15 K’s, 8 walks, a .132 batting average against and a 1.15 WHIP.  Konnor has a big breaking curve ball, a swing and miss delivery - he hides the ball really well - seems to come from behind his front knee with arm slot and leg kick. The full arsenal is a fastball (sits in a range of 90 to 93 mph), change up, curve and occasional slider.  Primary off speed pitches are the curve and change up, gets a really high arm extension and release point bringing the baseball from a downward plane path, very effective for the curve and change up in particular.

RHP Malik Binns (24 years old - 2021 18th round draft selection - Benedictine University , AZ) - an imposingly built young man at 6’7” with a tremendous physique Malik also has a broad smile that portrays a fun personality.  He primarily played basketball at Bolingbrook High School in Illinois and has worked hard to fine tune his pitching mechanics and approach since turning pro.  Malik began the year with the FCL Phillies and was promoted to Jersey Shore on 5/22/23.  He’s shown flashes of what could be, gets great spin and movement on his pitches, especially the slider which has a curve like drop, it’s a true slurve.  He will use a fastball (92 to 94 mph), the slider (slurve) and a cutter.  The stuff produces strikeouts (23 in 20 IP this season) however mastering control has been an issue as he’s issued 20 free passes and has hit two batters.  Continues to work hard, hopefully it all clicks in the near future.

Clearwater Threshers

RHP Wen Hui Pan (20 years old - signed as an international free agent -  1/15/23 - Hualien, Taiwan) - in his first pro season stateside Pan has put up impressive numbers to date - 2.91 ERA in 26 appearances - 55 2/3 IP with 77 strikeouts and 19 walks, a 0.90 WHIP and a .159 batting average against.  Word had it that Pan came with a ten pitch arsenal and that may have been the case however he’s throwing a three pitch mix now, a fastball (96 to 98 mph), slider and splitter.  He’s got an easy motion, starts in the stretch, one side step, a rock and then fire delivery.  The fastball has great life and movement and has dominated hitters at the low A level as reflected by the numbers.  He features the splitter more than the slider as a secondary but both pitches are still works in progress as he attempts to master them.  An off-season focusing on high performance conditioning and refinement of pitches will only improve what’s already a highly regarded skill set.  Pan has been a multi inning reliever this season going more than an inning in 22 of his appearances, two innings 13 times, three innings 5 times and four innings once.  Some folks have asked if starting may be in his future and that’s certainly a consideration however maintaining velocity over an elongated outing and developing stronger command and delivery of secondaries would have to develop, for now he’s a very good bulk reliever which is an important role.  Just 20 years old, a very bright future ahead.

RHP Jonh Henriquez (23 years old - signed as an international free agent -  6/7/22 - Dominican Republic) - we first saw Jonh on video last season as he made his pro debut in the DSL with Phillies Red, what stood out was the movement and velocity, he was a walk-on signee at the Academy and the talent shown got folks really excited.  This year he’s appeared in 28 games stateside, all in relief, posting a 13-1 record in 58 2/3 IP with a 3.07 ERA, 3 saves, 56 K’s and 34 walks, opponents are hitting a meager .172 against him and his WHIP is 1.18.  Jonh has shown the ability to pitch multiple innings, doing so in 23 of his appearances, three or more innings in seven games.  He features a four pitch mix (four seamer - 91 to 95 mph, slider, change-up and cutter) but predominantly uses the four seamer and slider, the spin generated on the slider in particular often gets in the major league elite levels which is exciting in itself.  He sequences his pitches really well and generally goes right at hitters, the first time we saw the slider up close on the back fields we were very impressed.  Eager to see how he’s able to perform at higher levels.

RHP Eiberson Castellano (22 years old - signed as an international free agent -  7/2/18 - Maracaibo, Venezuela) -  we first saw Eiberson in 2021 Fall Instructs after he had a strong 2021 DSL season posting a 1.09 ERA in 16 games (33 IP).  He has a presence about him on the mound and big time movement and spin on his deliveries.  This season started with the rehab group working thru some issues, was activated by the Threshers on 6/9/23 and has appeared in 15 games (30 IP).  He’s a multi inning pitcher who has been a spot starter in times past, this year he’s pitched two or more innings twelve times, three innings three times.  Eiberson has a five pitch mix (four seamer, sinker, slider, change up and curve), he is still progressing towards the velo of years past (94 to 95 mph) generally sitting a tick lower thus far this year.  He’s a very talented hurler that the numbers alone don’t necessarily reflect, have to see him in person to truly appreciate the skill set.

LHP Danny Wilkinson (22 years old - signed as an un-drafted free agent - 7/25/22 - Villanova University) - has had a incredible season in regards to strikeouts with 91 K’s in 28 games (48 IP) with a .156 batting average against and a 6-0 record.  He’s a three pitch mix hurler (fastball, slider, curve) who gets big spin and break on his off speed deliveries.  He will “pitch backwards” using his slider predominantly aligned with the sinker, very much like recent and now former Phillie Andrew Vasquez.  Danny had a stellar month of July posting a 0.59 ERA in 8 games (15 1/3 IP) with 33 K’s and a 0.978 WHIP which won him recognition as the system’s pitcher of the month.

That’s a wrap on the mini series - as always Happy Day, Happy Baseball ⚾️

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