Read Adam Morgan’s update from last night below:
One of the fun aspects of following minor league baseball is following the development of young pitching. This week will be viewed as important marker in the status of the young starting pitching in the Phillies system. On Wednesday afternoon on Ashburn Field Baseball Betsy and I watched the Phillies No. 1 draft pick Shane Watson strike out the side in his one inning of work against the GCL Yankees. He displayed a 91 mph fastball and a devasting breaking ball which over matched three of the four batters he faced. His outing was only marred by a base hit and his throwing error attempting to pick the runner off of first base. SEE HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE. This was Watson’s second, one inning appearance for the GCL Phillies. Manager Roly deArmas and his pitching coach Steve Schrenk have been working him at a slow pace this summer but he showed yesterday why he was a No. 1 draft pick.
Tonight in Trenton N.J. 22 year old lefty Adam Morgan makes his Eastern League debut against the Thunder. He had nothing left to prove with the Threshers in the Florida State League. When he left he led the FSL in strike outs, was second in WHIP and fourth in ERA. Morgan sports a mid 90’s fastball with a slider and change up. In two recent starts he pitched 15 innings, striking out 22 with no walks. Obviously with his outstanding command and control Morgan is positioning himself to move up quickly and fill that fifth spot in the major league rotation now that Joe Blanton has moved on and Kyle Kendrick has bombed in that role. UPDATE: Morgan dominated in his AA debut which was no surprise. See Here
Also this week we watched young lefty starters Jesse Biddle and Austin Wright pitch at Bright House. Biddle has been up and down this season but still has top five numbers in most FSL pitching categories. He needs to work on his command and control and then Biddle can take his breaking ball where Adam Morgan is right now. Austin Wright has been a workhorse all season for the Threshers. The hard throwing lefty with a sometimes good breaking ball is second in wins, third in ERA and strike outs and fourth innings pitched in the FSL. He has major league stuff, but like Biddle needs improved command and control to pitch at the next level.
We have a long history of following young starting pitching in the Phillies system. I will never forget watching on the internet Cole Hamels pitch for Scanton-Wilkes Barre back in 2006 in a “pitch for pink” uniform just before he made his major league debut that season. Now, he is worth at least $144 million six years later. Later in August of ’06 we were in Lakewood to watch Carlos Carrasco who in that game was relieved by Mike Zaguski and Andrew Barb. Later that night on the drive home we learned on the radio that Barb was one of the pitchers Pat Gillick sent to Seattle for Jamie Moyer. It turned out that Carrasco was the key pitcher in the trade when the Phillies acquired Cliff Lee from Cleveland.
In August of 2007 we were traveling to Williamsport again. This time to watch Joe Savery’s debut. We made trips to Clearwater and Reading to watch Kyle Drabek who was the key pitcher in the trade obtaining Roy Halladay. We went back to Williamsport for Jesse Biddle’s debut in 2010. I will never forget the groans of the fans there when the ump missed what should have been a called strike three on a Biddle curve ball on the outside corner.
As General Manager Ruben Amaro Jr. says pitching wins championships. A team can not have enough pitching either for trade or the rotation. The Phillies have use top pitching to win one World Series and five straight playoff appearances. Though they will not make the post season this year, the Phillies are still well positioned to rebound next season with a mix of young and veteran starting arms in the major league rotation and in the farm system. I must say yesterday’s second appearance of the pro career of Shane Watson will rank right up there with one of the best early efforts we have seen. Since nothing is better than striking out the side of a lineup of Yankees no matter at what level.