Friday – Lehigh Valley – Phillippe Aumont vs Adrian Sampson
This weekend the Phillies farm system faces a rather pedestrian slate of opposing pitchers so rather than just choose the best pitcher pitching this weekend (Zach Eflin on Friday), let’s go with the most interesting story. There are absolutely no expectations on Aumont, I know it, the team knows it, and most importantly Aumont knows it. He looks more comfortable, he is thinner, more athletic, and he is doing things he has never done in his career. His last start out only went 5 innings because they want to ramp him up slowly, but he was spectacular with a full 3 pitch arsenal and more command than he ever has. But still, this is Phillippe Aumont we are talking about, his career low BB/9 for a single season is 3.1 back in 2008 when he was 19 and pitching in the Midwest League. For this to not end poorly would defy all logic, but so far he has survived. So we continue to watch and marvel. Sampson isn’t a nobody, he is a top 15ish prospect in the Pirates system who has put up pretty good numbers so far with a low 90s fastball, a slider, and a developing changeup. He is probably a backend starter or solid reliever, but should be at least interesting.
Lehigh Valley: (Vs Indianapolis)
Friday: Phillippe Aumont
Saturday: Adam Morgan
Sunday: Paul Clemens
The IronPigs continue for now to be the least exciting team in the org. Adam Morgan looks like he is slowly regaining some prospect status as a back end starter giving someone to join Maikel Franco and Tommy Joseph as players to pay attention to. Domonic Brown should be around all weekend and he looked good in his last game hitting hard line drives. The great Aumont starting experiment continues onward. Last time out Paul Clemens attempted to avoid his fielders by walking 5 and striking out 9 in 4 innings of work he now has 16 walks and 20 strikeouts in 18.2 innings.
Reading: (vs Portland)
Never a boring day on the mound in Reading. Zach Eflin looks to go a full game after being ejected in the second inning last week. He still has not given up a run this year. Windle was fantastic his last time out, but was pounded in his only start at home so far. Meanwhile, Lively might have the best all-around numbers on the staff despite the less than optimistic scouting reports. On the hitting side it continues to be the Quinn and Altherr show on the prospect side, but Art Charles, Harold Martinez, Brock Stassi, and Gabriel Lino have pitched in to keep Reading 3rd in the Eastern League in runs.
Clearwater: (vs Dunedin)
The Thresher’s offense exploded on Thursday night, but otherwise there are a lot disappointing hitting numbers for the Threshers. On the pitching side, Whitehead and Leibrandt have been pretty good with Whitehead keeping up with his ground ball ways and Leibrandt mixing his pitches up and utilizing his good changeup. Both should be doing well at this level so it is important that they keep up their current rates. Arano will be making his third start of the year and has been fairly efficient with his pitches, but has yet to get hitters to miss in the zone. Each start should continue to improve has he gets innings under him. He is still the youngest member of the Thresher’s roster so he has less pressure to perform than the advanced pitchers. In good news for the Threshers, this is probably the last weekend before J.P. Crawford returns, the bad news is that he probably won’t stick around for that long.
Lakewood: (vs Savannah)
Because of the off day and the 6 man rotation the BlueClaws roll out the same pitchers two weekends in a row. Ranfi was good last time out and it would be big for the 6’8″ righty to stay on a good streak as things have been know to get out of whack. Oliver has been solid, but the defense let him down last week, he has done a great job of keeping the ball on the ground so far this year in addition to the large cut into his walk rate. Elniery Garcia goes on Sunday, and while the tiny lefty is advanced for his age, he has not been able to really fool batters consistently, but I believe in his ability to make adjustments. As for the hitting, Rhys Hoskins is doing what college first baseman should do to low-A pitching, which is to destroy it. Carlos Tocci just continues to hit and get on base, and Malquin Canelo continue to try to match him. This past week both Cord Sandberg and Deivi Grullon have begun to show life at the plate, Grullon in particular is now batting .297/.328/.406 through 16 games.
Photo of Elniery Garcia by Baseball Betsy