We came to the Clearwater area back in 2012 just as the Phillies great run was coming to an end. We never saw it coming, thinking the greatness would never end but it did. One of the reasons has been the inability to develop a left handed starting pitcher.
We focused on the Phillies minor league system from our perch in Clearwater. We expected the flow of Phillies left handed starters to never end. On opening night of the 2012 season we watched Adam Morgan make his Florida State League debut. He would be followed by other lefties in the Threshers rotation that season such as Jesse Biddle and Austin Wright, but it was not to be.
As long as I have been a Phillies fan, they always seem to have a great left handed pitcher anchoring the rotation from Curt Simmons, to Chris Short to Steve Carlton to Cole Hamels. Then it all ended when Hamels was traded back in the 2015 season and no lefty starter could be found to take his place in the Phillies rotation since then.
Our search for a lefty starter watching from here in Clearwater has never ended. We have watched the likes of lefty starters Elniery Garcia, JoJo Romero, Ranger Suarez and Cole Irvin start for the Threshers in the interim and either burnout or move to the bullpen. Still no lefty starter in the Phillies major league rotation other than a 36-year-old soft tosser given away by the Mets last season and a journeyman recovering from Tommy John surgery.
Our watch may be coming to an end. Though we only saw Phillies left-handed starting prospects Ethan Lindow and Erik Miller start one game each this season. That was enough for us to put them high up on our lefty watch list. Remember, you get only one chance to create a good impressions and we were impressed by both of them.
In Lindow’s only home start for Clearwater in late August, he pitched a six-inning, six-hit shutout against the Braves farmhands. My eyes lit up. Could he be the left-handed Phillies starter of the future? He just might be the one.
Lindow was a fifth round pick in the 2017 draft out of high school in Georgia. Today, October 15th, Lindow turns 21-years-old. In his three starts in the Florida State League, he pitched 16 innings, walking 2 and striking out 16 and put up a 1.69 ERA.
Miller’s only appearance that we saw was in Fall Instructs where he struck out three in one inning of work.
Miller was a fourth round pick in the 2019 draft out of Stanford University. Miller will play at baseball age 22-years-old in 2020. He started games in the Gulf Coast League, Williamsport and Lakewood in 2019. In his 11 appearances, he pitched 36 innings, walking 15 and striking out 52 for a 1.50 ERA.
I would not be surprised to see lefties, Lindow and Miller in the Clearwater Threshers 2020 starting rotation. It’s like the 2012 season all over again as the Phillies keep looking for that elusive MLB, left-handed starter of the future.