On the way driving back from Disney on I-4 yesterday, Baseball Betsy and I were listening to a fascinating interview on MLB’s network radio’s Front Office with Phillies Assistant General Manager Scott Proefrock.
He outline the plans for AA starting pitching with host Jim Bowden in a response to a question about the pitching acquired in the Rollins and Byrd deals. He said, Ben Lively, Zach Eflin and Tom Windle, “all are seemingly headed to AA.” “It will be fun to go to Reading.” he continued. They will join Aaron Nola and Jesse Biddle, if he can “get his situation remedied,” at Reading.
Not only will the likely starting five be top-of-the line major league prospects at Reading but they will have the Phillies top position prospects playing behind them in J.P. Crawford at shortstop and Roman Quinn in center.
Proefrock also said that they are looking for a return for Cole Hamels similar to the one former Orioles General Manager Andy MacPhail got from the Seattle Mariners for Erik Bedard in young pitcher Chris Tillman and a starting centerfielder Adam Jones back on February 9 2008. Tillman would make his major league debut on July 29,2009.
Proefrock said that if they don’t get a similar type return for Hamels, he would remain with the Phillies. He did say several teams other than the ones already mentioned in the press are also interested by “kicking the tires” but no new names were added to the list of team who might deal for Hamels.
Comcast SportsNet’s Phillies Jim Salisbury posted an interesting article yesterday in which he outlined the Phillies prospect watch. See Here. It looks like AA starting pitchers from last season Severino Gonzalez and Joely Rodriquez, acquired from Pittsburgh for Antonio Bastardo, will be in the AAA starting rotation at Lehigh Valley. I would suspect Adam Morgan coming back off the a should injury will join them there in the rotation as well.
What all this means is that starting pitching at the A ball level will have little chance to move up from last season to open the season barring injury. The five starting pitchers at Clearwater last season were exceptional most of the time in the second half of the season. Though the Threshers ended up 40 games under .500 for the season, they ended the season at 17-16 thanks in large part to the quality starting pitching.
Threshers starters, Colin Kleven averaged more than a strikeout an inning in August; Miguel Nunez went 4-0 with a 1.87 ERA over his last eight starts of the season; Jordan Guth was strong when he joined the rotation before tiring in his last two starts; Mark Leiter Jr. was impressive including a ten strike out game and even Kevin Walter pitched to a 2.53 ERA in three starts after being moved from the bullpen to end the season.
It looks like the Phillies minor league starting pitching is starting to take shape for the 2015 season. Even the Phillies Front Office is pushing fans to go to Reading to have “fun” to watch them. But a Cole Hamels trade could even add to the current mix and make watching baseball in Reading the only place to be in 2015. As Bowden said the Phillies need a “Grand Slam” if they trade Hamels.