It’s a given the Phillies need starting pitching. In fact Cole Hamels and David Buchanan are the only ones who can be penciled in the 2015 starting rotation and even Hamels has been subject to trade rumors. Other starters, A. J. Burnett has been unimpressive this season and is talking about retiring. Cliff Lee has an elbow problem and is out for the season. Kyle Kendrick is a free agents for next season.
I have not been impressed with first round draft pick Aaron Nola. He has thrown to many fly balls for my taste. I saw three of the four home runs he gave up when he was in Clearwater and he has given three more for Reading. Let’s see how he throws next spring.
Top prospect Jesse Biddle has been stymied by a series of misfortunes including his latest, a quad strain. Other starters such as Hoby Milner and Severino Gonzalez are finally throwing quality starts for Reading after less than impressive performances most of the season. That about does it for young starting arms at AAA and AA.
At the high A ball level for the Clearwater Threshers we have documented the strong starting performances from mid-July on of Colin Kleven and Jordan Guth. In August alone, Kleven has gone 2-1 with a 1.69 ERA in three starts. Guth is 1-0 in three starts this month has a 1.45 ERA.
Tonight, 23 year old Guth goes on the hill against the left handed hitting dominating Daytona Cubs. This will be the second time this month he will have faced the D-Cubs. It should be a good test.
Tomorrow night, 23 year old Kleven takes on the Brevard County Manatees, the farm team of the Brewers in the first of a twi-night doubleheader at Bright House. He has been strong from July on going 4-2 over his last ten starts. In his three starts this month Colin is 2-1 with a 1.50 ERA.
Monday is a big game for 19 year-old lefty Elniery Garcia. He started the season as a reliever with Williamsport before being send down to the GCL Phillies. As he built up arm strength he has been strong with a 1.69 ERA in 22 innings including starts in his last three of his six appearances. He was outstanding in his last start pitching six innings for a two hit shutout and the win.
Unlike the Threshers, the GCL Phillies are fighting for a playoff berth. They trail the GCL Yankees1 team by one game going into today’s action. Garcia is slated to face the Yankees1 on Monday at the Carpenter Complex in the first of a home and home series which will likely determine which of them wins the Northwest division and a playoff spot.
What separates these guys from the rest of the young arms at the A ball level? They can throw in the low 90’s and have swing and miss stuff with fastball command to go with the slider/change up off speed pitches as our videos of them in previous blogs have shown. Garcia is particular has had excellent command and is the only one of the three with a WHIP under one.
So the games tonight for Guth, tomorrow night for Kleven and Monday afternoon for Garcia will have extra special importance. They have only one or two more starts left in the 2014 season and right now they are pitching the best they have all season.
No one is suggesting that these three young arms at the A ball level will be in the Phillies starting rotation anytime soon but they have shown over the last six weeks or so that they have major league stuff to someday reach every pitcher’s final goal, to pitch in the major leagues. The next few days will tell us what they are made of as the 2014 minor league season starts to wind up.