It is obvious that the Phillies do not have the pitching to make it to the post season. Right now, only Aaron Nola would qualify as a top five starter in a major league post season team’s rotation. In the bullpen, only closer Hector Neris is of star quality. The hunt must begin now for major league quality candidates for the rotation and in the pen who will not break down and have major league stuff.
Not too much talent exists at AAA and AA to fill the Phillies pitching needs. Only Damon Jones, sporting a 1.00 ERA in 18 innings in three starts at AA stands out with his mid-90’s fastball. We watched him dominate the Florida State league to start the season. However, the experts in the Phillies front office have so far refused to give him a chance to show what he can do at the major league or at AAA level even though he is 24-years-old. The rest of the AAA and AA starters have been undistinguished this season and struggle along with limited velocity and lack major league quality off-speed stuff.
Needless to say, many of the relievers at the highest levels of the Phillies minor league system are very borderline prospects as are the high minor league starters.
We must dig deeper into the Phillies system to see what we can find. At Clearwater, we have shown video of 20-year-old Kyle Glogoski but even he has not thrown much over 90 mph with his fast ball. The rest of the Threshers starters are made up soft tossers who struggle even to hit 90 mph on the scoreboard gun. Not a good sign for high A ball starters ever advancing to the major league level. All of them can’t be the next Kyle Hendricks, the best soft tossing starting pitcher in the MLB with his 88 mph fastball.
The bullpen is somewhat a different story. Both lefties Keylan Killgore and Zach Warren can sit their fastballs in the mid-90’s and have the off speed stuff to get major league hitter out from both sides of the plate. Watch them strikeout right handed batters this past week:
At the low A level, Francisco Morales stands out with major league stuff. In his last three appearances, he has pitched 13 innings allowing four hits and one run while walking only three and striking out 17. It is hard to evaluate him because he is limited to pitching only four or five innings because of the “piggyback” system. No one knows what kind of stuff he will have when his pitch counts get much over 65. We wait with much anticipation when he will be allowed to throw 85 pitches next season at high A.
This year the real stunner in the Phillies system has been starter Brandon Ramey, an 18-year-old, 30th round draft pick in 2018, now pitching in the rookie ball Gulf Coast League. He has pulled off a GCL version of Johnny Vander Meer’s back to back major league no-hitters back in 1938. Brandon pitched back to back starts of four-inning, no-hitters on June 26th and Tuesday, July 2nd. He struck out seven in each of his first two GCL starts of the season. Watch video from his first no-no on June 26th, HERE.
In my opinion only Damon Jones has major league starter potential to help the Phillies now. The Front Office appears reluctant to give Damon a chance to show what he can do at the highest level. While Killgore and Warren should be moved up ASAP to AA or AAA, also to show what they can do out of the pen possibly at the MLB level later in the season.