Three minor league starting pitcher who could not have come from more different backgrounds in the Phillies system, have stood out in recent starts. One, was a No. 1 pick in the 2014 draft and 7th overall. Another starter was a 33rd round pick back in the 2009 draft and the 1,007th overall. The third one was not drafted at all and was signed as an undrafted free agent last summer. But after their last two starts they might be the best the Phillies have right now!
Last year’s first round pick Aaron Nola has come into his own at AA Reading. In his last two starts he has pitched 14 innings, giving up 10 hits, 2 earned runs, striking out 11 and walking only 1. He has induced 16 ground outs to 8 fly outs. He leads all Phillies minor league starting pitchers in quality starts with 9 and wins with 7.
Colin Kleven has been pitching in the Phillies organization for six seasons and has put up some interesting numbers at High A Clearwater this season. In his last two starts he has pitched 14 innings, giving up 12 hits, 1 earned run, striking out 7 and walking 3. He has induced 15 ground outs and 8 fly outs. He is third in quality starts among all Phillies minor league starting pitchers with 7.
Josh Taylor was overlooked completely in the 2014 amateur draft when 1,200 individuals were take from Canada, the USA and Puerto Rico. I guess he was the 1201st best player last year. So far this season with Low A Lakewood he has been one of the best 22-year old lefties in the minors over the last two weeks. In his last two starts he has pitched 14 innings, giving up 9 hits, 3 earned runs, striking out 15 and only walking 1. He has induced 14 ground outs and 6 fly outs. He is the only Phillies starter at any level except for Cole Hamels to have struck out more batters than innings pitched.
What has caught my attention has been all three of these starters have induced twice as many ground ball outs as fly outs in their two most recent starts. Yes, they have been getting more strikeouts than walks but still it is the ground ball outs which have been the major contributor to lowering their ERAs and getting them deep into games. Keeping the ball on the ground for soft contact outs would make them ideal starting pitchers someday for the home run friendly dimensions of Citizens Bank Park.