Looking for starting pitchers? Here are 8 in the Phillies system that may provide help when needed.
By Steve Potter
Last season assumptions were made by some folks that the Phillies wouldn’t be able to provision the depth needed over the course of a long season. Twenty-two Phillies minor league players received 2022 with 12 making their major league debuts. They were a key part of the club’s National League Championship run.
With about two weeks to go in 2023 spring training a few injury setbacks to the starting pitching staff have again raised concerns about depth in the system to cover the workload and remain competitive. Protecting the Standard is the mantra of the Phillies Player Development team, embedded in that is the ability to step up with solutions when the standard of play may waver due to injuries or other setbacks with the big club. As an advocate and thorough follower of the player development area of the organization following are a few options that I feel can fill the starting staff void if needed.
Michael Plassmeyer — 26 years old — LHP — Birthdate : 11/5/96 — acquired in trade with Giants on 6/8/22 for catcher Austin Wynns — This Fan’s View — He is a tough at-bat for hitters — releases the ball from a low arm slot and is consistently in the strike zone. Was named the International League pitcher of the month in September of 2022 — Lehigh Valley — 1.64 ERA in 4 games ( 22 IP ) with a 0.95 WHIP — 23 K’s — 6 BB. He pitched very well for Lehigh Valley after being acquired from San Francisco — 16 starts — 82 IP — 2.41 ERA — 82 K’s — 23 walks — 1.05 WHIP. Is not a high velocity pitcher but uses a three pitch mix, generally hits spots and throws quality strikes and has a change up that was a strikeout and put away pitch this summer — in September that all came to fruition even more. He also made his major league debut this past season with the Phillies — pitched in 2 games ( 7 1/3 IP ) — 7 K’s, 1 walk and 3.68 ERA. The speed gun : fastball ( sits in a range of 87 to 91 mph — max 92 ), slider ( 73 to 77 mph ) and change up ( 82 to 84 mph ). 2023 Camp — had one rough outing otherwise has shown he’s very capable of being productive in the big leagues if needed.
Noah Skirrow — 24 years old — RHP — Birthdate : 7/21/98 — signed as an un-drafted free agent — 6/16/20 — Liberty University — This Fan’s View — Fastball ticked up last year to college reads ( before TJ surgery ) at or near the mid nineties — gets big break on both slider and curve ball — both horizontal and vertical movement. Quietly had a solid 2022 season — made 25 starts total -primarily with Reading — was promoted to Lehigh Valley on 9/5 and he made 4 starts there — 21 IP — 3.00 ERA — 18 K’s, 9 walks. Made 21 starts for Reading ( 98 2/3 IP — 4.65 ERA — 115 K’s — 32 walks ). He led the minor league portion of the organization with 119 2/3 IP. Noah is a great competitor — will generally throw strikes and challenge hitters. He had a strong month of April — 2.63 ERA in 3 starts — 13 2/3 IP — 19 K’s — 2 walks and as previously noted finished strong in September. The speed gun : fastball ( sits in a range of 91 to 95 mph — max 96 ), slider ( 85 to 89 mph ), change up ( 84 to 86 mph ) and curve ( 75 to 80 mph ). 2023 Camp — pitched for Team Canada in the World Baseball Classic — strong effort against Team Colombia ( 5 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 5 K — 58 pitches — 40 strikes ) in a 5–0 win. He’s back in ST camp now and will continue to stretch out.
Tyler Phillips — 25 years old — RHP — Birthdate : 10/27/97 — originally claimed off waivers from Rangers 7/24/21 — re-signed as a minor league free agent to a two year contract 11/6/21 — This Fan’s View — spent the 2022 summer with the rehab team at the complex working his way back from Tommy John surgery. He’s got a very smooth delivery, no wasted motion — we saw a slider/curve with late break and a change up that had really good “dance” — tumbling action. Reports I’ve read on him from MLB when he was with the Rangers stated “creates tail and sink on his fastball and changeup as well as downhill plane with his 6-foot-5 frame. His changeup is a plus pitch and the heater plays better than it’s velocity because he commands it so well. He generates a lot of weak ground-ball contact because he creates tail and sink with his fastball and changeup.” He’s a Bishop Eustace Prep graduate from Pennsauken, NJ and grew up a Phillies fan. The speed gun : fastball ( sits in a range of 90 to 94 mph — max 96 ), slider ( 83 to 85 mph ), change up ( 86 to 89 mph ) and curve ( 78 to 80 mph ). 2023 Camp — he’s cleared the rehab group and has thrown in a couple simulated games to date, is stretching out as a presumable starter. In our view he’s got big league stuff and makeup — reminds me of Zach Eflin. We think he’s capable of reaching the show this summer.
Ethan Lindow — 24 years old — LHP — Birthdate : 10/15/98–2017 5th round draft selection — Locust Grove High School, Locust Grove, Georgia — This Fan’s View — Ethan is the ultimate command and control artist — his fastball velocity is generally lower nineties but he gets excellent pitch movement and deception as all of his deliveries come out of the same arm slot — slider, change up and curve. The change up is a put away pitch. Last summer he posted a 3.70 combined ERA in 27 appearances ( 19 starts ) with High A Jersey Shore and AA Reading amassing 116 2/3 IP with 98 K’s and 30 BB. In his career he’s pitched 410 innings with 396 K’s and 105 BB ( 3.77 K/BB ratio ). The term “crafty lefty” used to be a recurring phrase in pro baseball and I remember the likes of Randy Jones, Randy Wolf, etc that had quite a bit of success in their big league careers. Was the winner of the 2019 Paul Owens Award when he posted a 2.52 ERA in 110 2/3 IP at the A level of play. The speed gun : fastball ( sits in a range of 87 to 91 mph — max 92 ), slider ( 79 to 86 mph ), change up ( 77 to 83 mph ) and curve ( 71 to 76 mph ). 2023 Camp — we’ve seen him in a couple side and live bullpen sessions, he’s a fella that just gets batters out, not a lot of fanfare — gets the job done.
Cristian Hernandez — 22 years old — RHP — Birthdate : 9/23/00 — signed as an international free agent — 7/9/17 — Cumana, Venezuela — This Fan’s View — This past year was both a physical growth and character building one for him that started slow but ended in great success as a key part of a championship team in the Arizona Fall League — in 2022 spring training he struggled to find consistency and pitches we saw were flatter than what we’ve witnessed in times past. He opened the year with Jersey Shore as part of the starting rotation but wasn’t effective prompting a move to the pen initially as a bulk reliever. The role change resulted in success as he posted a 1.54 ERA in six July appearances ( 11 2/3 IP ) with a focus on simplicity in both approach and mix. Over the remaining course of the summer he yielded no runs in 15 of his 19 relief appearances. As a reliever he generally goes with a three pitch mix — the two seam fastball along with a curve and changeup. All three became quality pitches for him with both good control and command. As mentioned Cristian was selected for the Arizona Fall League and excelled there — was named to the All-Star game and was a big contributor to the league championship team Surprise Saguaros — posted a 0.82 ERA in 8 regular season appearances — 11 IP — with 11 K’s and 1 walk — 0.909 WHIP. He gets after it — not one who lets a situation become overwhelming — is fun to watch. The speed gun : fastball — both two and four seam — ( sits in a range of 90 to 95 mph — max 96 ), slider ( 90 to 94 mph ), change up ( 79 to 85 mph ) and curve ( 76 to 79 mph )- 2023 Camp — came to camp both leaner and stronger and has pitched well in the side sessions and live bullpens we’ve seen. Could be stretched out to start games again.
James McArthur — 25 years old — RHP — Birthdate : 12/11/96–2018 12th round draft selection — University of Mississippi — This Fan’s View — a power pitcher whose 6’7” height produces a pitch release point and arm angle that gets on the hitter quickly and adds deception as well as an elusion of even higher velocity — that’s a difficult task for hitters given he’s already in the mid to high nineties. Missed the brunt of the 2022 season after being placed on the IL on 6/22 — spent the balance of the year in Clearwater with the rehab team — elbow stress reaction. Was able to make 13 starts in 2022 for Reading before going on the IL — in 5 May starts ( 25 1/3 IP ) posted a 3.20 ERA and 1.14 WHIP with 26 K’s and 9 walks. Overall struck out 65 batters in 57 innings. Has major league stuff and was on track to make his MLB debut before the elbow issue. He’s now healthy again and is a viable option to help the big club as a starting pitcher. The speed gun : fastball ( sits in a range of 92 to 95 mph — max 97 ), slider ( 83 to 86 mph ), change up ( 85 to 87 mph ) and curve ( 78 to 83 mph ). 2023 Camp — made a good impression in big league camp, was recently optioned back to minor league camp — will stretch out starting today with two scheduled innings in a simulated game.
Mick Abel — RHP — 21 years old — Birthdate : 8/18/01–1st round draft choice — 2020 — Jesuit High School — Portland, OR — This Fan’s View — has dominant “stuff” — in 2022 had a learning season of growth focusing on how to sequence pitches, tackle situations and work on executing pitches ( particularly in the stretch ). The stats did not pop out to some however when you see him pitch in person the capability becomes very clear. Mick finished his season strong posting a 2.51 ERA in three September starts with AA level Reading. He’s got four plus pitches. A cordial young man who’s a baseball sponge — very receptive to coaching and wants to excel — has all the tools to do so. The speed gun : fastball ( sits in a range of 93 to 98 mph — max 99 ), change up ( 84 to 90 mph ), slider ( 83 to 85 mph ) and curve ( 77 to 83 mph ) — 2023 Camp — showed that he has elite stuff and makeup, is now back in minor league camp to continue stretching out as a starter. He’s added a “sweeper” to his repertoire and a cutter. No doubt he’s gonna pitch in the big leagues at some point.
Griff McGarry — 23 years old — RHP — Birthdate : 6/8/99–2021 5th round draft selection — University of Virginia — This Fan’s View — many believed that he had the best pure “stuff” in all of minor league baseball this past season. The fastball is electric and both his slider and curve are swing and miss deliveries. On top of that there’s a change up which he’s continually working to improve — it comes from the same arm slot with the same arm speed — it also has the potential to be dominant. Has also added a cutter to the equation. Griff battled thru some injury setbacks during the year — out of 2022 spring camp an oblique issue and later in the year finger blisters. While the stuff is top drawer the development needs are finding consistent command and the strike zone — if he can reel that in then he’s a major leaguer. He is very close to making his major league debut — can be a impact pitcher in the show. Griff was selected in the 5th round of the 2021 draft out of the University of Virginia. The speed gun : fastball ( sits in a range of 93 to 98 mph — max 100 ), change up ( 86 to 87 mph ), slider ( 83 to 85 mph ) and curve ( 79 to 81 mph ) 2023 Camp — has continued to battle control and command issues but the stuff is real, perhaps just needs to let it fly and not worry so much about mix or harnessing pitches, his stuff is good enough that if it’s near the plate he’s gonna consistently get batters out.
(Steve Potter of Clearwater is the author of a website, www.philliesbaseballfan.com. He follows the Phillies system from the beginning of spring training until the last minor league pitch).