2017 Eyewitness Evaluation: Franklyn Kilome

Franklyn Kilome, RHP

6’6″, 175 lb

Bats/Throws: R/R

Played for: Clearwater (A+/FSL) and Reading (AA/Eastern)

Signed as an international amateur in June 2013

Dates Seen: 8/16, 8/31

Eyewitness Stats: Two starts, 10.2 IP, 13 H, 9 R, 7 ER, 6 BB, 5 K, 2 HR allowed

What the Numbers Say

Clearwater (A+): 19 G (all starts), 97.1 IP, 6-4, 2.59 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, .264 opp AVG, 83 K, 37 BB, 96 H, 28 ER, 5 HR, 4 HBP, 14 WP, 409 BF, 20.3% K, 9.1% BB

Reading (AA): 5 G (all starts), 29.2 IP, 1-3, 3.64 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, .238 opp AVG, 20 K, 15 BB, 25 H, 12 ER, 2 HR, 3 WP, 123 BF, 16.3% K, 12.2% BB

Totals: 24 G (all starts), 127 IP, 7-7, 2.83 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, .259 opp AVG, 103 K, 52 BB, 121 H, 40 ER, 7 HR, 4 HBP, 17 WP, 532 BF, 19.4% K, 9.8% BB

Kilome’s 2017 statistics can be described as simply effective but uninspiring. Kilome’s run prevention was much better during this season compared to 2016 (2.83 ERA vs 2016’s 3.85 ERA). Some of that can be attributed to luck as Kilome’s opponents hit .312 on balls in play compared to the .346 they hit last year. He did a good job stranding runners on as opponents had a .240 average and a .594 OPS, as compared to last year when opponents hit .266 with a .738 OPS. He also had a big leap in double plays rising from four to 15 this year

Despite this improvement, much of Kilome’s statistics remained the same from his breakout campaign in Lakewood in 2016. The only statistic that had a significant enough difference was his strikeout numbers and that would go in the reverse trend. Last season, Kilome was striking out batters at a 26% clip and 10.2 per nine innings. This year his rate dropped by nearly 7% and he was only striking out 7.3 per nine. His per nine rate was closer to eight in Clearwater before taking a hit in his nearly one month stay in Reading, but the strikeout rate (which takes into account the number of batters he faces) still took a very significant hit. Some of this could probably be connected to the fact that opponents weren’t swinging and missing at many pitches like they did the year before. In 2016, Kilome threw 63% strikes and got hitters to whiff at a 14% rate. This season, he threw the same percentage of strikes, but hitters only whiffed at 10%.

His groundball and flyball contact rates were 46% and 34.3%, respectively, barely changing from his 2016 numbers (46.7% and 36.4%).

Kilome would allow just one walk or less in six of 24 starts, with five of them coming in his first ten. He allowed three or more walks nine times. He also saw a big jump in wild pitches, almost doubling his total from last season from 9 to 17.

Kilome performed well vs right-handed hitters, holding them to hitting .237 with a .638 OPS; he predictably would fall prey to left-handed bats who hit .284 with a .745 OPS. His K/BB numbers were the same facing both, but he faced right-handers nearly 60 more times producing a lower K and BB rate with the opposite happening vs left-handers.

In the two games I witnessed, he threw his fastball 56.1% of the time and got just four swinging strikes off of it. His curveball statistically was his calling card as he it threw 26.3% curveballs and got seven swinging strikes. He only threw 52% strikes to the 50 batters he faced across the two starts.

Tale of the Tape

The two Kilome starts shown above are complete polar opposites. On 8/16 he dominated a very talented Bowie lineup. Two weeks later he got rocked by New Hampshire in his final start of 2017. The big issue with Kilome is fastball command. While he tops 97 mph and ranges 94-96 with some good running cut to it at times, he tends to leave a lot of pitches up in the zone which leads to a lot of hard contact. And unfortunately when it’s not at let’s say a 50 grade command on that day, his curve isn’t as effective. Kilome’s curve is definitely a 60 grade pitch with it’s sharp 12-6 depth and spin, registering at 77-81 mph. Last season the Phillies were concerned he was using it too much as he would spike the ball in the dirt a lot so they asked him to ease it back a bit. He still threw over a 1/4 of his pitches with it in the two games. It is definitely his best pitch by far and he knows how to manipulate the break and speed. There were 20 times where he threw a breaking ball that he threw a bit harder in the 82-84 range with not the same type of depth as his slower curve but had similar downward spin. This is probably the slider that Clearwater pitching coach Aaron Fultz was talking about in an interview. In the two games, Kilome threw 38%  breaking balls with similar breaking action and variances of speed and depth. His change-up, which was hovering around the mid-80s, does have some fade but it proved to get flat at times the few times he flashed it. This is probably his worst pitch right now.

Mechanically, Kilome is able to keep his front side closed, land his front foot down in the same spot and generate an good push off his back leg. His biggest problem as a pitcher has been gaining a consistent release point from his 3/4 arm action.

What Lies Ahead

Kilome’s stuff suggests closer to frontline stuff and in 2016 that showed more. But his fastball command and the the amount of breaking balls he spikes in the dirt have him more of a back-end starter. His fastball isn’t a bowling ball sinker or a strong cut fastball, so if he can’t keep the ball down he’ll get hit hard. It’s also interesting to wonder if he might be more effective if he threw his breaking balls more than he did in the games I went to. Hitters in the majors are getting much better at hitting fastballs now, and some pitchers like Houston’s Lance Mccullers tend to throw breaking balls well high than the norm and have success. Perhaps this is something to consider considering how good Kilome’s breaker is.  Even though he’ll only be 22 years old entering next season, this is a big year for Kilome. As one of the Phillies highest profile arms in the minors, Kilome is the closest to reaching the big leagues and is Rule 5 eligible this offseason for the first time. The Phillies will no doubt add him to the 40 man roster for protection and then send him to Reading to start the 2018 season. Kilome needs to figure out how to generate swings and misses again if not closer to his 2016 rate than somewhere in between, while lowering his walks at the same time. He can’t rely on some of the luck he got this season that created his good run prevention.  Kilome has a ceiling of a mid-rotation starter and he could still get there, but currently he looks more like he could be a fringe major league starter with a good bullpen stuff. He’ll still be a fringe top 10 prospect in the system, but he may fall behind quickly if he doesn’t show improvements.

Author: Jeff Israel