I would like to congratulate Williamsport Crosscutters’ David Whitehead who was selected as the Phillies Minor League Pitcher of the Month for August. He had a strong month going 2-1 with a 0.67 ERA. He was a ground ball pitcher with a 2.35 GO/AO ratio. He gave up only one home run in 74 innings all season.
But Whitehead does not have a lot of swing and miss stuff. He struck out only 17 batters in 27 innings with no walks in the month. He reminds me of a young Kyle Kendrick with better control. Kendrick made it to the Phillies starting rotation back in 2007 as a ground ball pitcher who did not rely on the strikeout. He struck out only 49 and walked 25 in 121 innings in his first year in the majors. He wound up with a 10-4 record coming coming directly from AA Reading in mid-season that year.
Kendrick has proven you do not need to be a strikeout pitcher to make it to the major leagues. David Buchanan is another pitcher who has made it to the Phillies starting rotation who is not over powering and relies on pin point location to get his outs. He needs to hit his spots to be effective since he is more of a fly ball pitcher. When he misses he pays for it with the long ball. He has given up 11 home runs in 93.1 innings so far this season for the Phillies.
Do the Phillies have any starting pitchers in the minor leagues who had “swing and miss’ stuff in August? Not many who averaged at least a strike out an innings in August. I came up with only seven. The pitching slash lines represents, innings pitched/ strikeouts/walks: Lehigh Valley, Brad Lincoln, 32/32/21; Reading, none; Clearwater, Colin Kleven 27.1/32/13 and Mark Leiter Jr. 31.2/31/10; Lakewood, Ranfi Casimiro 26.2/27/14 and Matt Imhof, 19.1/20/5; Williamsport, Ricardo Pinto 30/31/7 and Brandon Leibrandt 23/27/4. Lincoln is 29 years old and is not a prospect. He walks too many to be effective. Leiter Jr. and Leibrandt rely on off-speed stuff to get strikeouts.
Starting pitchers who are not on the list include some noteworthy names. They were starting pitchers for Reading in August. Severino Gonzalez was the Phillies Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2013 had an August strikeout slash line of 32/22/9 and this year’s first round pick Aaron Nola had a slash line of 24/15/5. Another power pitcher Jesse Biddle was injured in the month.
Unfortunately the Phillies do have many power pitchers in the system. When you play in a hitter friendly ball park with short fences such as Citizen Bank Park it is helpful to have pitchers who have “swing and miss” stuff which goes a long way to help keep the ball in the park. If not, you better be a ground ball strike throwing pitcher as David Whitehead was this season for Williamsport.