The top Phillies relief pitching prospect used a 95 mph high heater for a swinging strike three for the first out of the inning. Then he froze the batter on a called third strike on a slider for the second out which showed why Ken Giles had a coming out inning of sorts in Saturday’s Arizona Fall League Stars Game.
Giles was impressive but he still needs to work on his control. He pitched in the fifth inning of the All Star game for the victorious West team who went on to win 9-2. In that inning he struck out two, walked one and gave up a hit and no runs in facing five batters. He threw 12 of his 22 pitches for strikes.
The best young hitters and pitchers from all 30 MLB minor league organizations were in Surprise Arizona for the game. Of the nine pitchers in the game who pitched one inning of relief only Giles and Marcus Stroman, a 2012 first round pick of the Blue Jays, recorded more than one strikeout. But it was a couple of off speed slider type pitches to Addison Russell, an Oakland A’s 2012 first round draft pick, that caught my eye in watching the game on MLB-TV. Both pitches froze Russell who was obviously sitting on Giles’ plus fastball that he used to get his first strikeout of the inning.
Giles, who just turned 23 years old in September, was a 7th round pick of the Phillies in the 2011 draft. He has been impressive so far in the AFL. With exception of one appearance in a seventh inning role where he did not retire any of the seven batter he faced, Giles has pitched in five other games. In those games he pitched six innings giving up no runs, two hits, struck out eight, walked four and picked up two saves.
Baseball Betsy and I have watched Ken pitch out of the pen the parts of the last two seasons for the Clearwater Threshers. Both years he was able to get the speed gun, which was limited to only double digits, to register 00 and 01 on the old Dunedin Blue Jays’ scoreboard. We also watched him collapse in pain on the mound after pitch from a back injury this season which forced him to miss a significant amount of time on the disabled list this season.
We will be looking for Giles to be invited to the major league camp in spring training. Though he has not pitched above high A ball, he has the stuff to pitch in the major leagues right now if he can continue to locate his fastball, develop his slider and stay healthy. Wouldn’t it be nice to see Ken Giles from the right side and and Jake Diekman from the left side coming out of the Phillies bullpen in 2014 with 95 mph plus fastballs.