Phillies thrilled with development of prospects

July 1st, 2023

This story was excerpted from Todd Zolecki’s Phillies Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

Rob Thomson gets questions almost every day.

How’s he throwing? What’s his next step?

Painter threw an up-down bullpen session Friday in Clearwater, Fla. It went well. He will throw at least another up-down and at some point, he will face hitters in live BP. Painter still seems weeks away from pitching in a game, but the Phillies expect him to pitch competitively this summer, and possibly even for them this season.

Interest in Painter remains high because the No. 5 spot in the Phillies’ rotation is unsettled, despite Cristopher Sánchez gaining a foothold recently, and because Painter is the No. 10 prospect in baseball, according to MLB Pipeline.

Painter is one of three Phillies prospects in Pipeline’s Top 100. Double-A Reading right-hander is No. 44. Single-A Clearwater outfielder is No. 88.

Abel and Crawford will play in the All-Star Futures Game on July 8 in Seattle.

“We’re thrilled with both of them,” Phillies president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said this week at Wrigley Field. “They’re both very talented individuals. They’re both deserving of the honors. I would say, starting with Abel, he’s been working on things. Parts of his numbers are very good. Parts of it he needs to continue to improve upon. He’s a developing pitcher in our mind. He’s got great stuff, a great work ethic and work habits. I’ve been around those guys with their types of abilities. When they find it, they find it and they’re in the big leagues. He’s that type of guy.”

Abel, who the Phillies selected with the 15th overall pick in the 2020 MLB Draft, is 2-3 with a 4.75 ERA in 13 starts with Reading. He has struck out 70, but he has walked 35 in 60 2/3 innings.

“He’s got to go throw three pitches for strikes,” Dombrowski said. “But we’re very happy with him, and that’s why I’ve never had a problem jumping a guy from Double-A to the big leagues. That doesn’t phase me whatsoever.”

Crawford, who the Phillies selected with the 17th overall pick in the 2022 Draft, is batting .340 with 10 doubles, six triples, 34 RBIs, 33 stolen bases and an .846 OPS in 212 plate appearances.

“He’s a phenomenal athlete, which we knew when we drafted him,” Dombrowski said. “Our scouting people believed in him a great deal. We loved him. We’re very fortunate we got him. We’re thrilled. I think we’re happy with how well he’s hit to start off. He’s second in the league in hitting. Part of it is he makes contact. He’s tall and thin, but he already gained weight from last year. He is going to continue to get stronger because he’s got that type of body. And he flies. And he’s also an outstanding defensive center fielder.

“I saw him hit a ball off the wall when I was there one day [a couple weeks ago]. I said, ‘In two years that’s a home run.’ We don’t care if he hits any home runs [this year] because the most important thing is he makes contact and controls the strike zone. That will all take care of itself with his natural progression.”