One thing that impresses me from the Phillies 2014 draft class is its pitching. First round pitch Aaron Nola’s last two starts have major league written all over them. We saw second round pick lefty Matt Imhof pitch a strong two innings for the GCL Phillies before moving on to Williamsport and last night he went four shutout innings for the Crosscutters. Now last night at Bright House Field another lefty Brandon Leibrandt pitched his second consecutive strong outing.
Leibrandt appears to be an extreme strike thrower just like Nola. In his last two outing in 8.2 innings he has struck out 11 and walked only one. In four outings he has 15 strike outs to go with his only walk. If you have followed this blog I am big on strike out to walk ratios. At the major league level the average is a 2.5 to 1 ratio.
Last night against the GCL Blue Jays, Leibrandt was dominate striking out six in 4.2 innings. One of his strikeouts came against the Blue Jays top draft pick in the draft catcher Max Pentecost. See Here. Though Leibrandt was tagged with the loss he clearly is a lefty to watch in the future. The 6’4″ lean, lanky southpaw gets ahead in the count and then relies on his off speed stuff to set down the right handed hitters. See Here, See Here, See Here.
The one pitcher who caught attention last night for the GCL Phillies was Tanner Kiest who came on for Leibrandt with two on and two outs in the seventh inning and let in an inherited run on wild pitch. Kiest has adopted a Jon Papelbon style on the mound. He did get out of the inning with a strike out. See Here.
Out in the Youngstown, Ohio area last night, Imhof struck out five in his four innings against the Mahoning Valley Scrappers. last night. In his three outings since drafted he has been averaging a strike out an inning with a 3.1-1 strike out to walk ratio.
Last night Aaron Nola for the Clearwater Threshers won his first game as a professional by pitching five shutout innings after taking over for Cliff Lee in the third inning in the restart of the rain postponed game from the night before in Brevard County. Nola struck out five with no walks and now in his last two starts over eight innings has struck out eight with no walks.
The Phillies have drafted well in signing extreme strike throwers. Between Nola, Imhoff and Leibrandt in last night’s three games, they combined to pitch 13.2 innings and struck out 16 while walking only 2. Nothing beats an 8-1 strike out to walk ratio while averaging more than a strike out an inning. Not even the best pitcher in the American League, the Yankees Masahiro Tanaka who currently has a 7-1 strikeout to walk ratio, can beat the Phillies three young rookie pitchers’ ratio after their first three weeks in professional baseball. Could a new trio of “Baby Aces” be on the way?