The GCL Phillies spent much of the early season being the rehab point for many rehabbing and drafted pitchers as Yoel Mecias, Nic Hanson, Brandon Leibrandt, Matt Imhof, Jesse Biddle, and Drew Anderson all made starts this year. But since the GCL Phillies have begun to settle into a 6-7 man rotation (double headers and piggy back starters have affected the rotation integrity). The 7 pitchers currently in the rotation have combined for a 3.09 ERA so far this year and most fans know nothing about them, and may not even know they exist.
Elniery Garcia – LHP – Age 19 – 6’0″ 155
This year marks Garcia’s 3rd season in the Phillies organization after being signed as a 16-year-old in December of 2011. The Phillies first brought him stateside in the fall of 2012 where Baseball Prospectus’s Mark Anderson saw him and wrote:
Garcia has a small frame that looks completely undersized at first glance. He has some room to fill out and has good athleticism, giving him a hint of some physical projection remaining. Even without the physical projection, his stuff stands on its own for a 17-year-old. His fastball sat consistently at 86-88 mph and scraped 90 when he reached back for more. He frequently opened his front side too early and, while he has a very quick arm, he had trouble catching up at times. With better timing through his delivery and added strength as he matures, Garcia could sit with 89-91 mph velocity pretty easily. His mid-70s curveball lacks consistency and needs considerable work, but he continued throwing it and working it into his outings. His changeup is ahead of the curveball as he shows good arm speed and overall feel for the pitch. His ability to sequence pitches is advanced for his age and he adapted as his outing went along to make sure hitters were kept off balance.
Its been nearly two years since that report and Garcia struggled in the GCL in 2013 and in a trip to Williamsport to start 2014. But since returning to the GCL as a starter he has been dominant.
Garcia has a clean and fluid delivery with a fastball that is 87-91. Garcia also sports the best feel and command of his secondary pitches; a 12-6 curveball that comes in at 71-74 and a changeup at 81-84 that has some cut to it. I reached out to Mitch Rupert about Garcia’s short time in Williamsport and he noted Garcia’s live arm and the way the ball jumped out of his hand. According to Baseball Betsy the Phillies have been extending his pitch count each start and the arsenal has played up as he has faced more batters and expanded his pitch selection.
Franklyn Kilome – RHP – 19 years old – 6’6″ 175
This year is Kilome’s first year for the Phillies and the big right-handed pitcher has the largest physical projection of anyone in the rotation. Rather than rehash Chris’s earlier scouting report on Kilome, you should go read it again. Kilome’s fastball has mostly been around 90mph, the secondary pitches are still developing but have improved over the year. Kilome is not going to jump up prospect list right now, but as he puts on more muscle he could see his stuff make a large jump.
Denton Keys – LHP – Age 19 – 6’3″ 190
Keys was the Phillies overslot pick in the 11th round in 2013 where he signed for a $350,000 bonus. Keys came from a lower conference in Colorado where he threw 4 no-hitters his senior year, his fastball in college was 86-88 occasionally getting as high as 91. The Phillies were betting on his athleticism and projection to shine through eventually.
In 2014 the stuff has not come along yet (fastball topping out at 88-89, but has sat mostly in the mid-80s), he can work ahead of hitters but he lacks the ability to put them away right now. What has been extremely positive has been his 54% GB% compared to his 21% FB%, this is due to a breaking ball he has been able to work down with sinking movement. He has also shown the ability so far to shoulder an increased workload. It may be another few years until we see what Keys is, but guys with his size and athleticism are always worth the risk.
Lewis Alezones – RHP – Age 18 – 6’3″ 170
The Phillies signed Alezones for $320,000 out of Venezuela in 2012 as a 16-year-old. He has followed that up with two years in the GCL, and after working him in slowly last year, they have allowed him to work deeper into games in 2014. As a 16-year-old Kiley McDaniel reported that Alezones was 87-89 touching 90 with an intriguing changeup and curveball. He also noted that Alezones may not fill in as much as other small pitchers due to his small frame, but there may be a little more in there.
This year Alezones has been 88-90 with a slider (76-80) and a changeup (81-83)*. The delivery is similar to Franklyn Kilome and the mechanics are sound and in synch. There may be more in the frame as he continues to age, but he still is thin framed and skinny so we will see where he goes from here.
*I have heard separate reports of a slider and a 12-6 curveball, but not together, so they may be the same pitch differently classified or if he has been deploying two different breaking balls
Jason Zgardowski – RHP – Age 20 – 6’5″ 190
Zgwardowski is an undrafted FA the Phillies have had him up to 95 with the fastball, and they think there could be more in his quick arm. Zgwardowski also mixes in a slider and splitter. So far he has made one relief appearance and one start so it remains to be seen how the Phillies will use him going forward (post on his signing).
Luis Morales – RHP – Age 21 – 6’4″ 212
At 21 years old Morales is the old man of the staff. He first came over stateside in 2012, but missed the entire 2013 season. Morales has made improvements all year, but he has started to see his workload decrease as other pitches have emerged on the staff. I don’t have a good gauge on his arsenal, but reports are that the fastball is hard, but straight and hittable. The Phillies have begun to transition Morales into the bullpen of late, in deference to the other pitchers on the staff.
Sam McWilliams – RHP – Age 18 – 6’7″ 190
McWilliams was the Phillies 8th round pick in this year’s draft. McWilliams was very inconsistent this spring, and that inconsistency has carried over into the GCL season. He has shown the ability to throw strikes in some starts, but in other the delivery and control has been all over the place. His fastball has touched as high as 96 in highschool, but other times he will struggle to get to 90. In pro-ball he has been mostly in the high 80s, with fringy secondary offerings. There is a lot of work to be done, but there is size and arm strength to dream on.