Right-handed pitcher Kenny Giles rose up these rankings more than any other Phillies prospect last year. Armed with tremendous velocity, the 6-foot-2-inch 190-pounder has a bright future and could prove extremely valuable to the organization in the near future.
Drafted in the 7th round in 2011 out of Yavapai (Junior) College, although he was committed to transferring to Arizona, Giles began his professional career with the Gulf Coast League Phillies that year. After facing a difficult decision to turn pro and leave college behind, Giles struck out seven in 4 2/3 innings over three outings with the GCL team. Prior to making his debut in the minors, Giles, a big-time strike out artist, notched 67 punch outs in 38 innings during the 2011 college season.
The Albuquerque, NM native began the 2012 season with the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws where he went 3-3 with five saves, a 3.61 ERA and a .215 batting average against in 29 outings (6 starts). Giles was promoted to Class A Advanced Clearwater in July and proceeded to pitch exclusively as a reliever for the Threshers, going 1-0 with three saves, a 3.07 ERA and a .183 batting average against in 10 appearances. Combined at the two levels, Giles sported a 12.18 K/9 mark last year.
Having grown up admiring Randy Johnson, Giles tries to emulate the mentality of the five-time Cy Young Award winning left-hander, with a focus on being aggressive, going after opposing batters and always keeping them guessing.
The youngster’s pitch repertoire features a fastball that regularly ranges from 96-98 MPH, but clocked in the triple-digits quite a bit during the 2012 season. He also throws a slider with late break that his coaches were extremely pleased with the progress of last year as well as a change up that he hopes will become a strong offering to play off of his major heat.
The area that the 22-year-old made the most progress with, aside from his slider, last year was his ability to control his delivery. As some might expect a hurler with the capacity to throw pitches above 100 MPH to do, Giles showed a tendency to try to crank the speed way up and spoil his own mechanics. This lack of focus hurt his control. Making sure to calm down his own delivery, Giles was far more consistent and steady.
Look for Giles to potentially begin the upcoming season with Double-A Reading, or join that team early in the season, holding down a late-inning bullpen spot for the club.