Last night in the Clearwater Threshers 11-5 win over the Dunedin Blue Jays big left-handed pitcher Ethan Stewart did something he only did once in his 74 game pro career. He came on in relief. This afternoon at the Carpenter Complex’s Roberts Field, catcher Scott Tomassetti made his professional debut after the Phillies made him their 34th round draft pick (1012th overall) in the recent amateur draft.
The results were interesting to say the least.
In came “Stew” as he is called from the Threshers bullpen in the bottom of the eight inning as Baseball Betsy and I watched at Dunedin Stadium. What was going on? It turns out Stew had been dropped from the starting rotation for the first time in his four-year career in the Phillies minor league system.
The problem is he has given up more walks than strikeouts as a starter this season. But he has a major league arm. He showed it last night. He was firing bullets. He hit 96 mph once and his fast ball was sitting at 95 mph, a few ticks higher than the 92 mph which his fastball was sitting as a starter on the scoreboard speed gun. He still had the old problem though he did managed to strike out the side swinging in the eight inning but also gave up a couple of walks.
After a visit from pitching coach Bob Milacki, Stew tuned down his fastball velocity to 93 for better location in the ninth but he showed an amazing arm for a potential power arm left-handed reliever. Not many lefties at any level other than the Phillies Jake Diekman can throw with such velocity. If the big 23 year-old 6’7″ 235 lbs. Stew can only learn to harness his major league quality arm and throw more strikes, some day he has a chance to pitch in the major leagues as a hard throwing power reliever.
The other interesting story took place this afternoon at Roberts Field for Baseball Betsy and me. Scott Tomassetti made his first appearance in the Phillies system. He has been on the Phillies radar for a long time. He was drafted by them in the 46th round of the 2011 amateur draft but did not sign. This time the 21 year old catcher from College of Southern Nevada did sign and it paid off quickly for the GCL Phillies.
It turns out GCL Phillies manager Roly de Armas gave Tomassetti a nice 21st birthday gift today, his first appearance in a professional game. He took over for rehabbing major league catcher Will Nieves in the sixth inning and in his first at bat in the seventh inning he was hit by a pitch.
It was his second at bat in the bottom of the eight with the GCL Phillies trailing 5-4 and runners at first and second, de Armas’ birthday gift paid dividends. Tomassetti lined a high pitch on one hop by GCL Braves third baseman Franklin Azuaje down the third base line. Pinch runner Jose Pujols scored all the way from first for the sixth Phillies run. Tomassetti’s two-run double gave the GCL Phillies a 6-5 lead which held up for the win and brought them back to .500 for the season.
Last night might have been a career changer for Ethan Stewart as he showed he could be a left-handed power pitcher out the bullpen which could be a way for him to get to the major leagues someday and today it was a 21st birthday gift that Scott Tomassetti will never forget.