The last several days proves once again how important pitching is to winning baseball. On Friday night the four Phillies farm teams went 3-1. Then on Saturday they went 0-4. One key difference was on Friday the Phillies system received three quality starts from Jesse Biddle, Colin Kleven and Ranfi Casimiro. They put Reading, Clearwater and Lakewood in the win columns. On Saturday no starting pitchers in the minor league system left the game with a quality starts and all the teams lost.
A quality start is defined as going at least six innings and giving up no more than three runs. Technically, Biddle went only 5.2 innings but held the Harrisburg Senators to only two runs to get the win. Eleven went six innings for his second consecutive quality start and Casimiro went seven innings for the BlueClaws win.
On Saturday morning we were off to the Blue Jays minor league complex in Dunedin to watch two young Phillies arms. Franklyn Kilome got the start for what will be the Williamsport team in an extended spring training game. In the other game Feliberto Sanchez was making a relief appearance coming off of the knee surgery from last November.
One of the reason we go to instruct games in the Fall and extended spring training games now is to watch player development. Kilome was working on his change up. He needs to throw it with a motion that looks more like his fastball delivery but comes out about 87 mph rather than 93-96 mph where his fastball sits. After he finished up his four inning start he went out into the bullpen with pitching coach Les Lancaster for more work on his off speed pitches.
The 6’6″ Kilome will not turn 20-years old until June 25th and has the highest upside of any starting pitcher they have in the minor league system. Right now he projects to be on the Williamsport opening day roster. See Here his final out against the Blue Jays in Saturday’s game.
Feliberto Sanchez pitched last season at Williamsport as a swing man between relief and starting. He made his first appearance in a game last Tuesday since his knee surgery the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. He looked strong in his first appearance but was shaking off the rust in his two innings of work. He followed a long rehab trail once he got back on his feet starting off throwing off a flat surface, then the mound, live batting practice, pitchers fielding practice and finally an intrasquad game. At his Thursday’s bullpen session he worked on changing his release point from over the top to a 3/4 arm slot.
Saturday morning was a big day for Sanchez. He was to pitch one inning in relief with his new slot angle and appeared to pass the test by striking out two of the three batters he faced. He was working under the direction of pitching coach Brian Sweeney. See HERE his first strikeout. See HERE his second strikeout on Saturday. He appeared to have more movement on his pitches than when he was coming over the top.
Player development of young pitching is what the minor league system is all about. We were fortunate to learn about what Kilome and Sanchez were working on in Saturday morning’s extended spring games. Both of these guys are working hard to become important parts of the Phillies pitching staff in the future. Pitching, as we have talked about above, plays a very important role in any winning baseball.