Last night the Mets lineup in the 6th began Bruce/Walker/Duda, so LH/switch/LH. So Joely Rodriguez, as the only LHP on the active roster, was obviously the choice. But in his brief career he hasn’t been reliable at getting LH hitting. Entering last night, LH hitters: 11/30 (2 XBH), 3/6 K/BB; RH hitters: 8/33 (5 XBH), 9 K/1 BB. Even without the power, LH hitters are seeing the ball well. Now last night, Joely would improve those totals going 1-2-3. But it gets you thinking: Do the Phillies even have any LHP prospects coming up the pipe?
Right now the only upper level options include Adam Morgan (on the 40 man), Hoby Milner, Tom Windle and switch pitcher Pat Venditte. Elniery Garcia would have been an intriguing LHP option on the 40 man roster, but he just got pegged 80 games for PEDs, which halts his development for now.
So where does this leave the Phillies prospect depth in LHP? Right now there most advanced prospect is Cole Irvin (’16 5th rd), who currently is off to a nice start in Clearwater (13 IP, 1 ER, 10/2 K/BB). In 3 years, he went from Tommy John surgery, to high 80s fastball, to low 90s topping at 94. He’s probably more of a back-end starter since his secondary pitches are average, but considering his age and polish, he could move fast and make some spot starts the next couple of years, with a chance to be a mainstay backend starter.
Then there is the 3 starters in Lakewood. JoJo Romero (4th rd ’16) is probably a future reliever. From a stuff perspective he’s about the same as Irvin but he’s more of a two pitch mix pitcher and is only 6’0″ (Irvin 6’4″). While he’s getting early (18 K in 13.1 IP). He’s allowed 21 baserunners (7 BB) and 3 wild pitches. So his command has been pretty shaky.
I had the privilege of watching Nick Fanti (’15 31st rd) on Saturday night. He had what I would call a good Vince Velasquez start (4 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 7/3 K/BB, HBP on 74 pitches). That night he was throwing 87-91 mph with good cut, with an average changeup and an 11-5 breaking ball. He may have a little more room for growth (6’2″, 185) but for the most part I would give him the same projection as I would a Ben Lively or Mark Leiter Jr (both up on short-term), more of a future spot starter then mainstay back end guy. But his 31.1 career K% almost makes it seem like he’s more than that.
And finally Bailey Falter (’15 5th rd) made a pretty big jump last year. After mechanic tweaks, his fastball jumped from the high 80s to the low 90s to go along with average secondary offerings. He’s got pretty good command (4.8 career BB%) at 19, pounding strikes and getting enough whiffs (career 21.6 K%, about MLB average). He could still make bigger jumps in velocity considering his lanky frame (6’4″, 175) which makes his ceiling a potential mid-rotation starter.
So right now the Phillies don’t have much in the way of LHP to help contribute in 2017 and probably 2018 as well. And even as these guys get closer, there’s not much excitement from this depth when it comes to pure stuff or potential. The Phillies can get away with no LH rotation options, but the fact there isn’t a Diekman or Bastardo, who while frustrating at times, came in and got lefty batters out. The Phillies haven’t been able to play the matchup game for awhile now and it may stay that way for the remainder of the season.
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