The story is getting old but the Phillies are desperate for pitching in the minor league system. The team’s major league starting pitching is old and many of their relief pitchers were hit hard in April and have been already sent to AAA. They have no choice but to draft pitching early and often in the June 5th First Year Player Draft.
Help is not on the way in the minor league system. They have few pitchers other than starter Jesse Biddle and closer Ken Giles at Reading who average a strike out or more an inning. In fact the pitching staff at AAA Lehigh Valley is 12th out of 14 teams in strike outs in the International league. The high A and low A staffs are both last in their respective leagues in strike outs. The Clearwater and Lakewood staffs are the worst in most pitching categories in their respective leagues. They both have the highest earned run averages and WHIPs also.
The Phillies have been set back by injuries to the likes of international signing Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, former first round pick Shane Watson and third round pick Adam Morgan. They all can found each day at the Carpenter Complex rehabbing and hopefully will be back some time before the end of the season.
Other young pitchers in extend spring training games are learning new pitches. One pitcher tells us he is working on a new type of curveball while another is trying to see if the knuckleball works better than his 87-88 mph fastball has been working lately. Still, we do not see many power arms on the Phillies minor league teams at any level.
Several other pitchers just have trouble throwing strikes. Relief pitcher at AAA Lehigh Valley Phillippe Aumont is averaging a walk an inning. Starter for the Advance A Clearwater Threshers, Ethan Stewart has walked 23 while striking out only 18 in 39 innings. They have no future on the mound if they can’t throw strikes. It is important to “pound the strike zone” to be effective at any level. The Japanese pitcher signed by the Yankees, Masahiro Tanaka, reportedly had a 4.5 to one strikeout to walk ratio pitching in Japan.
Other pitchers need to keep the ball in the park. Hoby Milner is watching the baseballs leave the park when he pitches for Reading. He has already given up 7 home runs in only 26 innings in his five starts this season. The Reading staff leads the Eastern League in homers giving up 27 long balls in only 29 games so far this season.
June 5th Draft can’t come soon enough for the Phillies organization to restock the minor league pitching staffs with major league prospect power arms who pound the strike zone and can keep the ball in the park.