With the Phillies’ major league starting rotation having success it has taken some pressure off of the minor leagues to produce, but it has also has accelerated the perceived timeline of the Phillies. This has then focused the spotlight on the Phillies’ top prospects to perform. The top level of the system has been less providing of information than many would want, mostly because rain completely muddled their early season schedule. That being said, the rotation has now made it through two times and I have some thoughts to share. Note these are off of grainy video and so there are extreme limitations on observations, so these are just thoughts.
- The curveball is a very real pitch. Eflin was casting it in his first start and it was a bit long and loopy, but his second start he showed the ability to throw a true hammer 12-6. He still needs more command and consistency, but it is the first time he has had a real swing and miss pitch.
- On the subject of continuations from 2015, Eflin is throwing harder, he was able to add and subtract from his fastball sitting mostly 89-94, but hit 95-96 when he needed.
- Eflin has been more willing to elevate his fastball this year to get swings and misses.
- It has been hard to judge the changeup and slider, but neither seem to be generating too many awkward swings.
- Eflin still does not have great fastball command, he is better to the arm side and down, but not consistent elsewhere.
- The first thing that jumps out when Eflin is pitching is how quickly he works.
- It is probably best if you forget that Appel was the #1 overall pick, he is not that guy, but that is completely fine.
- It has been hard to tell if he is using a two seam fastball more, but he is working down with his pitches when he is on and is working up when he is tired.
- Speaking of the fastball, he has been apparently been in the 91-95 range, going as low as 89 and as high as 98. It is not overwhelming, but it is also not soft tossing.
- What is overwhelming is his slider, which showed good sharp break, but more importantly, he showed good command of the pitch and little fear about throwing it anywhere.
- It can be hard to pick up the changeup on the video without velocity readings, but Appel did show a softer pitch with fade that froze some hitters.
- My biggest concern with Appel was that he struggled late, but more so he struggled out of the stretch. Out of the stretch, Appel missed up and down and seemed to kind of yank the pitch down out of the zone. Additionally, the opposing hitters seemed to pick up the ball well as his delivery simplifies and he comes in rather straight with little plane on his pitches.
- Appel did not give up a lot of hard contact, and was able to work himself out of jams without panicking.