Minor Leagues

What is the state of the Phillies minor league pitching after Realmuto trade?



Adonis Medina is now the top overall pitching prospect in the Phillies system. (Baseball Betsy)

Tuesday, the Philadelphia Phillies introduced their biggest offseason acquisition to this point, All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto. To acquire him, the Phillies sent catcher Jorge Alfaro to Miami, along with No. 1 overall prospect, RHP Sixto Sanchez. 20-year-old LHP Will Stewart was also included in the deal.

Many in the Phillies fan base were quite unsettled to hear that the organization parted ways with their top prospect. Many viewed Sanchez as a potential front-line starter that could be slotted behind All-Star Aaron Nola in the future. Losing Stewart, who posted a 2.06 ERA in 20 starts for Low-A Lakewood in 2018, also hurt the pitching depth in the minor league system.

So what does the pitching depth in the minors look like now?

The answer is, it still looks pretty good.

The Phillies new No. 2 overall prospect, Adonis Medina, assumes the role as the organization’s top pitching prospect. Medina had a 4.12 ERA for High-A Clearwater in 2018, but those numbers are a bit deceiving. In four starts, Medina gave up five or more runs. In 14 other starts, he gave up three runs or less.

Medina is followed by the organization’s top lefty in JoJo Romero. Romero had his 2018 season in Double-A cut short due to injury, but since he is already 22, the Phillies may test him and send him to Triple-A to start 2019. In 18 starts for Double-A Reading in 2018, Medina went 7-6 with a 3.80 ERA across 106.2 innings.

Those two are followed by a trio of Triple-A pitchers who will be battling for spots on the Phillies major league roster in 2019. They are lefties Cole Irvin and Ranger Suarez, along with righty Enyel De Los Santos. Suarez and De Los Santos each made starts for the Phillies in 2018. De Los Santos was impressive in his first year with the organization, going 10-5 with a 2.63 ERA for Lehigh Valley. Irvin went 14-4 with a 2.57 ERA for the IronPigs as well – he should make his MLB debut at some point in 2019. (There has been some speculation that the Phillies could transition De Los Santos into the bullpen, where he made five of his seven major league appearances a season ago, so that’s something to monitor.)

Following the cream of the upper level guys are a slew of under-the-radar arms that Phillies fans should be excited about.

This list includes lefties Kyle Young and David Parkinson; and righties Spencer Howard, Connor Seabold and Colton Eastman.

Young and Parkinson both stared for Lakewood in 2018. Young, 21, had a 3.10 ERA in nine starts before an injury cut his season short. Young is listed at 6’10 and relies more on his control and command than his velocity. Parkinson was the Minor League Pitcher of the Year in the organization in 2018. Parkinson had a 1.51 ERA in 17 starts in Low-A and then went on to have a 1.24 ERA in five outings for High-A. He’s already 23, so the Phillies will most likely try to get him to Reading by mid-season in 2019.

Howard, 22, also pitched for Lakewood in 2018. He had a 3.78 ERA, but scouts are high on him. Howard sits in the mid 90s with his fastball and struck out 147 batters in 112 innings. If the former second-round pick gets his command together, he could be special.

Seabold relies on his advanced control to get batters out. The 23-year-old had a 3.77 ERA in 12 starts with High-A, but struggled in Double-A with a 4.91 ERA. Reading isn’t the easiest place to pitch so we can excuse that to a degree. The fact that Seabold only surrendered 33 walks in 130.1 innings is impressive.

Eastman was the Phillies second pick in the 2018 draft (fourth round), and made eight starts in Short-A. He had a 3.00 ERA in those starts. His WHIP was relatively high at 1.39, but the 22-year-old has a lot of time to figure it out.

Following this group is another group of even younger pitchers. The group includes RHP Francisco Morales, RHP Dominic Pipkin and LHP Jhordany Mezquita. Morales, 19, struggled in 2018 with a 5.27 ERA in 13 starts for Short-A Williamsport. His command and control need work, but he can reach 96 MPH with his fastball and has above-average secondary pitches. Pipkin performed well in 10 rookie ball outings (eight of which were starts) – he had a 3.64 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP. The 19-year-old touches the mid-90s with his fastball and also has a good feel for his secondary stuff. Like Morales, Pipkin will need to focus on control and command going forward. The 21-year-old Mezquita had a 3.60 ERA in nine starts in Short-A Ball. Mezquita has a lot of work to do with his control and getting a grasp for his pitches. He may end up in the bullpen, but he has upside there.

The Phillies have all of these pitchers at their disposal, along with 2016 second-round pick Kevin Gowdy, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery. The Phillies will also get their first look at teenager Starlyn Castillo, who they signed out of the Dominican Republic. He has actually drawn comparisons to Sanchez, of all people.

Sanchez may be gone, but the Phillies still have lots of talent and depth in the system that will help them make trades and give them future rotation options.

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