Around the System–Starting Pitching

A whole lot to be excited about.

Lehigh Valley

Mark Appel, 24, Acquired from Houston in 2015; 7 starts; 3-2 with a 3.58ERA; 37.2IP 36H 18BB 34K; .250 opp avg; 1.43 WHIO; 0.97 GO/AO; 4.3BB/8.1K per 9; .220 vs LHH, .271 vs RHH, .258 opp avg in May; Appel has thrown generally well however his control has been the demon that has really gotten him into trouble at times.

Alec Asher, 24, Acquired from Texas in 2015; 8 starts between Reading and Lehigh Valley; 4-2 with a 2.30ERA: 54.2IP 39H 7BB 35K; .193 opp avg; 0.84WHIP; 1.18 GO/AO; 1.2BB/5.8K per 9; For Lehigh Valley: 3-0 with a 1.53 ERA and .144 opp avg in 4 starts; After the disappointment of having been sent to AA to start the year, Asher has been consistently excellent for both Reading and Lehigh Valley.

David Buchanan, 27, Phils 7th round pick in 2010; 7 starts; 2-2 with a 3.92ERA; 43.2IP 46H 7BB 18K; .274 opp avg; 1.21 WHIP; 1.40 GO/AO; 1.4BB/3.7K per 9; .302 vs LHH, .257 vs RHH, .275 opp avg in May; .250 opp avg with RISP.  Buchanan is a serviceable AAA starter but really doesn’t have the “stuff” right now for any more than that.

Zach Eflin, 22, Acquired from Padres in 2014; 7 starts, 5-0 with a 2.36ERA; 45.2IP 30H 7BB 39K; .185 opp avg; 0.81 GO/AO; 1.04 GO/AO; 1.4BB/7.7K per 9; .190 vs LHH, .182 vs RHH, .185 opp avg in May; Eflin has been outstanding through the first six weeks of the season and has played himself in a position as a potential call up should Adam Morgan continue to struggle.

Jake Thompson, 22, Acquired from Texas in 2015; 7 starts; 2-4 with a 3.32ERA; 38IP 33H 13BB 30K; .237 opp avg; 1.21 WHIP; 0.98 GO/AO; 3.1BB/7.1K per 9; .229 vs LHH, .242 vs RHH, .169 opp avg in May; A very slow start for Thompson, which he has overcome in his last 3 starts, yielding 1 ER in 19IP spanning those starts.


Ben Lively, 24, Acquired from Cincinnati in 2014; 8 starts, 6-0 with a 1.53ERA; 47IP 31H 14BB 46K; .185 opp avg; 0.96 WHIP; 0.84 GO/AO; 2.7BB/8.8K per 9; .174 vs LHH, .195 vs RHH, .177 opp avg in May; Lively has been as good as any pitcher in the organization through 8 starts.  Look for a call to Lehigh Valley over the next month.

Ricardo Pinto, 22, Signed as a free agent in 2011; 8 starts, 1-1 with a 3.97ERA; 45.1IP 43H 13BB 25K; .246 opp avg; 1.24 WHIP; 0.96 GO/AO; 2.6BB/5.0K per 9; .247 vs LHH, .245 vs RHH, .225 opp avg in May; 6 very good starts and 2 poor starts have led to a solid first six weeks for Pinto.  Needs polishing at the AA level.

Nick Pivetta, 23, Acquired from Washington in 2015; 8 starts, 4-2 with a 3.27ERA; 44IP 36H 15BB 44K; .224 opp avg; 1.16 WHIP; 0.98 GO/AO; 3.1BB/9.0K per 9; .237 vs LHH, .212 vs RHH, .197 opp avg in May; Pivetta is bouncing back very strong after his late season injury in 2015.

John Richy, 23, Acquired from Dodgers in 2015; 4 starts between Clearwater and Reading; 1-1 with a 5.59ERA; 19.1IP 24H 6BB 12K; 2.8BB/5.6K per 9; .233 vs LHH, .429 vs RHH; Bumpy beginnings to 2016 for Richy who started injured and has been largely ineffective since coming back.

Anthony Vasquez, 29, Re-signed as a free agent in 2016; 8 starts; 6-2 with a 1.82ERA; 54.1IP 43H 13BB 36K; .223 opp avg; 1.03 WHIP; 1.15 GO/AO; 2.2BB/6.0K per 9; .228 vs LHH, .221 vs RHH; The consummate minor league war-horse, Vasquez keeps doing what he does, which is to get hitters out.


Ranfi Casimiro, 23, Signed as a free agent in 2010; 7 starts; 5-2 with a 3.35ERA; 37.2IP 32H 10BB 40K; .227 opp avg; 1.12 WHIP; 1.29 GO/AO; 2.4BB/9.6K per 9; .191 vs LHH, .245 vs RHH, .229 opp avg in May; After two full seasons in Lakewood, Casimiro is translating his 2015 success over to Clearwater.

Thomas Eshelman, 21, Acquired from Astros in 2015; 7 starts, 2-1 with a 4.08ERA; 39.2IP 36H 9BB 39K; .238 opp avg; 1.13 WHIP; 1.22 GO/AO; 2.0BB/8.9K per 9; .244 vs LHH, .236 vs RHH, .365 opp avg in May; Eshelman started very quick out of the gate this year but May has been bumpy, with 13ER allowed in 14.2IP in his last 3 starts.

Eineiry Garcia, 21, Signed as a free agent in 2011; 6 games, 3-1 with a 2.27ERA; 35.2IP 25H 9BB 32K; .194 opp avg; 0.95 WHIP; 1.11 GO/AO; 2.3BB/8.1K per 9; .077 vs LHH, .223 vs RHH, .220 in May; After a very solid 2015 in Lakewood, Garcia has been excellent in the early going of 2015.

Matt Imhof, 22, Phils 2nd round pick in 2014; 7 starts, 4-2 with a 3.58ERA; 37.2IP 30H 27BB 28K; .238 opp avg; 1.51 WHIP; 0.85 GO/AO; 6.5BB/6.7K per 9; .158 vs LHH, .252 vs RHH, .260 opp avg in May.  Short bursts of effectiveness seem to regularly be interrupted by a walk rate with which long term success is next to impossible.

Will Morris, 23, Phils 24th round pick in 2013; 6 starts, 2-1 with a 3.64ERA; 29.2IP 36H 8BB 14K; .295 opp avg; 1.48 WHIP; 0.72 GO/AO; 2.4BB/4.2K per 9; .222 vs LHH, .326 vs RHH, .283 opp avg in May; The bottom line has not been bad for as hittable as Morris has been.  Right handed hitters are crushing him.

Tyler Viza, 21, Phils 32nd round pick in 2013; 6 starts; 5-1 with a 1.77ERA; 35.2IP 35H 6BB 36K; .250 opp avg; 1.15 WHIP; 1.06 GO/AO; 1.5BB/9.1K per 9; .319 vs LHH, .215 vs RHH, .284 opp avg in May; Viza has transitioned quite nicely to CLearwater, already matching his 2015 win total in Lakewood.  His command has been outstanding.

Shane Watson, 22, Phils Comp Round pick in 2012; 7 starts, 2-2 with a 3.20ERA for Lakewood; 39.1IP 32H 11BB 32K; .222 opp avg; 1.09 WHIP; 2.04 GO/AO; 2.5BB/7.3K per 9; .148 vs LHH, .277 vs RHH, After parts of three seasons in Lakewood, Watson has pitched like he has figured something out this year.  He was promoted today to Clearwater.


Harold Arauz, 20, Acquired from Houston in 2015; 6 starts; 1-3 with a 4.08ERA; 28.2IP 23H 12BB 23K; .219 opp avg; 1.22 WHIP; 1.18 GO/AO; 3.8BB/7.3K per 9; .250 vs LHH, .193 vs RHH; Arauz has shown promise in the early going.

Tyler Gilbert, 22, Phils 6th round pick in 2015; 1-4 with a 4.54ERA; 39.2IP 43H 9BB 33K; .287 opp avg; 1.31 WHIP; 1.32 GO/AO; 2.0BB/7.5K per k; .292 vs LHH , .284 vs RHH, .237 opp avg in May; Gilbert has shown some promise but has been hit fairly hard this year.

Franklyn Kilome, 20, Signed as a free agent in 2013; 6 starts; 0-4 with a 7.30ERA; 24.2IP 34H 15BB 25K; .330 opp avg; 1.99 WHIP; 1.53 GO/AO; 5.6BB/9.1K per 9; .353 vs LHH, .308 vs RHH, .246 opp avg in May; 2016 has been generally a disaster for Kilome who has struggled with his control and got knocked out early in several starts.  Still, the talent is clearly there.

Luke Leftwich, 21, Phils 7th round pick in 2015; 7 starts; 3-2 with a 2.27ERA; 35.2IP 33H 13BB 52K; .243 opp avg; 1.29 WHIP; 1.43 GO/AO; 3.3BB/13.1K per 9; .259 vs LHH; .231 vs RHH; Leftwich had back to back games of double digit strikeouts where he was completely dominant and sits with an astronomical k rate.  He has been very, very good with the limited complaint that he has had trouble pitching deep into games.

Drew Anderson, 22, Phils 21st round pick in 2012; Activated from the DL today and will join the Lakewood rotation.Missed all of 2015 after undergoing TJ surgery.


40 thoughts on “Around the System–Starting Pitching

  1. Great to see a lot of promising arms throughout all levels of the minor league system. There seems to be a bit of a log jam of pitchers in Clearwater, maybe Morris goes to the pen? Also think Lively will move up within the next few weeks and Buchanon is either a long man for Lehigh or released.

  2. nice to see the k/bb rate for Pivetta this year after what he put up last year when he got to Reading. Likelihood of him sticking a starter long term?

    never was a fan of the Imhof pick- he walked alot his last year of college. Carson Fulmer walked a good amount of batters in college, and noticed he’s got 26 in 39 AA innings this year. Makes me think of AJ Puk for this years pick- what is the likelihood of a good college pitcher with iffy control/command improving significantly in that area as a pro?

  3. Eflin and LIvely just made this week’s BA Hot Sheet

    2. Zach Eflin, rhp, Phillies
    The Scoop: There are certainly more famous names involved in the Phillies’ minor league overhaul, but Eflin has quietly put up some dazzling numbers as the fourth-youngest player in the International League at just 22 years old. A scout who saw him recently noted that Eflin had made improvements since last season, when he put up a middling season at Double-A Reading. His four-pitch mix—four- and two-seam fastballs, slider and changeup—has gotten sharper, and his pitchability has improved across the board. (JN)

    18. Ben Lively, rhp, Phillies
    The Scoop: On a pure stuff level, nothing jumps out about Lively, for he has no plus pitch. Back in Double-A Reading again this season after recording a 4.13 ERA there last year, he has produced much better results with a 1.53 ERA and 46-to-14 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 47 innings. If Lively can develop into an effective back-end starter, that would be a win for the Phillies.

    1. I think they are underselling Lively’s stuff. He often hits 93 and 94 and has a lot of deception to his pitches. Lively is a big time sleeper – he’s going to make somebody a very good starting pitcher and I’ll bet the Reds would love to have him back again.

  4. I must say, I am really coming around on Eflin. He seems to have taken a major step forward. I still haven’t seen a grade on the slide and change, but his FB seems like a great pitch. If the slider and change are 50 pitches, then you have a quality mlb pitcher. but his trend seems good, so maybe he can even get one of those to 60 grade. which makes him a #3.

      1. The slider is a really good pitch now – I’d grade it around 55 or 60. The 2 seam FB is a 55 or 60 grade and the 4 seam is about 55 grade with room for more upside because he throws it so damned hard (93-96). His ceiling is as a #2, but has the clear ability to settle in as a really good #3 – like a #3 on a championship contender. I like him more than Jake Thompson.

  5. Its really amazing when you read through the write-up and see just how many good arms the Phillies have acquired via trade over the last 2+ years.

    Amaro earned a fair amount of the criticism that he took but he also did a good job in his final year getting the rebuild started and the new hierarchy has continued very well.

    1. RAJ didn’t get smart; the difference was Gillick looking over his shoulder rather than Montgomery.

  6. the Giles trade is still the master of all “Arms” deal with Hamels (Thompson, Eickhoff, Asher) as a close second, but Rollins (Eflin, Windle), Byrd (Lively), Paps (Pivetta) and Benny (Cordero, Tirado) are not as bad considering the contracts and subpar performing players that the Phils gave up.

      1. Like the line from Shalespeare (on the execution of the Thane of Cawdor, who was succeeded by MacBeth), “nothing in his life Became him like the leaving it.”

      2. Romus, maybe it because our new ownership mandated it after the old management kept trying to compete. When the Phillies start contending again (which will be soon) people will realize what Ruben Amaro accomplished like they did with Ed Wade in 2008. The worst years were 2012-2014 when the old owners wanted a repeat of the 1993 Phillies team.

    1. The Giles trade is starting to look like a rip off 🙂
      Velazquez has a chance to make it to the All Star Game. Appel is improving. Arauz seems to be match Kilome’s hype. Eshelman is doing well in Clearwater.

  7. Great thing about stocking up on pitching is you really never have enough considering some will spend as much and usually more time on the DL than position players. Plus if you have depth in pitching it’s much easier to acquire a good bat where needed. Quality pitching almost always keeps a team relevant.

    Even if Eickhoff (whom I haven’t given up on yet), Morgan, and Hellickson don’t figure in the long term as starters, we have:
    Velasquez, Nola, Eflin, Thompson, Lively, Appel, Asher, Pivetta, Pinto, not to mention the younger developing arms in the lower levels.

    1. Yep. The more the better.
      Out of 10:
      -6 will be realeased
      -2 will get injured and retire
      -1 will marry and retire
      -1 will make it

  8. Have to give big kudos to Shane Watson on his determination.
    Three major setbacks…..diabetes diagnosis, drug issue and then a damaged shoulder issue requiring surgery….and keeps battling through it all, and now looks to be headed in the right direction.

    1. Absolute agree, Romus. It’s really amazing how well things are going for the Phillies. Even guys who had fallen off the prospect radar, have shown back up. In addition to Watson, I’m talking Walding, Green, and Joseph.

      1. That is really an odd thing to happen in an org, the way, not just one but four so far, have re-established themselves.
        Even Pujols is coming out of the woodwork now.

  9. Outstanding, deep stock of starters on the farm. I have always been a pitching rotation fan, so this is very exciting to see.

    Gregg, thanks for putting together these position analyses. I would suggest you consider listing them by how you rate them on each level, rather than alphabetically. Would better provoke conversation on who’s closest to advancing to the next level.

    My brief impressions (since I haven’t analyzed them deeply) are that Asher will be promoted first, depending on how Morgan does. I think Asher’s age and previous ML experience helps, plus he has the lowest ERA and best WHIP. Eflin, a delightful surprise, is next, and close behind is Thompson, an early disappointment but seemingly putting it together. One of these could step in at the trade deadline when Hellickson likely goes. Appel remains an enigma, though he’s shown improvement in the Phillie organization.

    At AA, Lively has simply been amazing and he should be moved up to LHV very soon to mentally reward his effectiveness. Pivetta is another delightful surprise so far. While there’s much more potential in the system, I’ll stop there.

    1. I would like to get report on Lively. BA had him as back end rotation starter if everything absolutely broke correct for him as he doesn’t have any + pitches. I wonder if they are sticking with that narrative.

  10. Congrats to Watson and a big welcome back to a forgotten man Drew Anderson. Also, Asher went on the DL so maybe Lively will go up and someone from Cwater will go up to reading. Cwater can’t have 7 starters

    1. I assume he injured his leg on that play at 1st base the other night. He seemed to favor it as the game ended. Are you able to verify that?

  11. looking over recent trades you have to like Byrd/Lively, Rollins/Eflin & Windle and of course Giles for Velasquez & Co. I remember not liking the upside of Utley trade and that’s proving to be correct with Utley for Sweeney & Richy.

  12. That’s because Ultey still playing at a high level . Sweeney has to show some baseball instincts and better d.Richy just came back form an injury so will see.

  13. I wonder why Arauz is put ahead of Kilome or Leftwitch in Lakewood.
    Kilome is in the top 10 list of prospects, and Letwitch is leading the league in strikeouts.

    Lively should see mlb action soon!!!!

    1. ‘I wonder why Arauz is put ahead of Kilome or Leftwitch in Lakewood.’,,,,why do you say that?
      They are all in the same rotation.
      And take their turns when it comes up.
      It just happens that Arauz is pitching very well now, and Kilome struggled in April…weather is warmer now and he is finding his groove.

      1. Usually you one would put the top tier prospect first then the sleepers. I guess Arauz is opening some eyes. Yet Kilome is a fire baller, who could at least end up as closer

  14. Romus Ricky bo address the tag ace last night. Made it sound like its not a big deal. They were talking about if nola is a ace or not. Wish I remember the whole conversation. interesting.

  15. excuse me off topic. As a horse nut. This will be a big test today for Nyquist. I think its his first time in the mud.

  16. I was at Appel’s start yesterday – it was as bad in person as it looks in the box score. Sat around 88-90 – awful everything. Only hit 92 once. Red flags galore.

    1. Rather, the start was today – I want to pretend it was yesterday so I can forget about it. JP Crawford was great, however.

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