Which Phillies pitching prospects can contribute in '23?

January 5th, 2023

A consistent contributor to our MLB Pipeline Inbox, Stephen D’Alesio (Stevie D in our circles), asked this week for some bold prospect predictions heading into the new season. That got all of us going on full-steamed prognostications.

Our MLB Pipeline Podcast episode this week was entirely devoted to prospect predictions of all kinds. Even our Inbox question was predictive: Who will be the 2023 version of Jackson Chourio? You can see all of them, from Rookie of the Year to No. 1 pick in the 2023 MLB Draft, in this story. I made my Rookie of the Year predictions in this week’s Beat Report as well. Let’s keep looking into the crystal ball for this week’s Inbox questions.

Which Phillies prospects do you see having an impact on the mound this upcoming season? -- Max S.

If you’re a Phillies fan, you have to be feeling pretty good. Not only did you go to the World Series and then sign Trea Turner in the offseason, but you have some pretty exciting pitching prospects starting to gather at the upper levels. There are currently two of them on our Top 100 in Andrew Painter and Mick Abel, and I don’t think I’m giving away too much when I say that both will be on our new list out at the end of this month.

Despite being drafted a year later than Abel, Painter -- our 2022 MLB Pipeline Pitching Prospect of the Year -- seems to be a tick ahead of Abel at this point after reaching Double-A. And while Painter doesn’t have a ton of professional experience under his belt (109 2/3 total innings, 103 2/3 of which came in 2022, his first full season), he was so dominant across three levels that it’s hard not to think he’ll push his way into the big league rotation at some point in 2023. Every once in a while, a prospect is an exception to a rule. In this case, I’m guessing Painter is the exception to the rule about a pitcher needing a certain amount of innings or reps in the Minors. Maybe he starts the year in Triple-A, but he’s going to spend a lot of time in Philadelphia. I also think Abel could touch the big leagues, even if it’s later in the year. Of course, if things click for him command-wise, he could meet Painter in Philly. I think he does figure it out, which is why I predicted he’ll be our Pitcher of the Year this season.

Beyond that dynamic duo, keep a close eye on Griff McGarry, who some in the Phillies’ organization believe belongs on our Top 100. Stuff-wise, he does. The question is command. But even if that’s not pinpoint, he has the chance to make a big impact as a reliever in 2023.

Which top 10 Pirates prospect gets recalled first? -- @LeeFoo9

Of the Pirates' prospects in the top 10, only one has touched the big leagues at all. That’s Liover Peguero, and he was up briefly as an emergency fill-in during the 2022 season. Peguero and two others -- Endy Rodriguez and Mike Burrows -- are on the 40-man roster. That’s good information to have because that’s likely the pool from which that first call-up will come (though not guaranteed).

Even though Peguero has been up, I don’t see him as being the first one to get the call in 2023, unless there’s an injury. Neither Rodriguez nor Burrows have a ton of experience beyond Double-A, and I think both will begin the year in Triple-A, where they ended the 2023 season. But both should have the opportunity to play their way up to Pittsburgh as the Pirates continue rebuilding. If you wanted to look at non-40-man guys, Quinn Priester on the mound and Nick Gonzales in the infield could play their way up after their Arizona Fall League stints, if they produce and stay healthy. That said, I’m going to stick with the guys on the roster and say that Rodriguez is the first to hit his way to the big leagues. His defensive versatility could help him in this regard, so even if they don’t want him to take over behind the plate from Austin Hedges, he can play second base or the outfield as needed.

Gavin Williams is currently the No. 11 RHP on the Top 100 Prospects list. After his great season last year, do you envision him climbing onto the Top 10 RHP list when the 2023 Top 100 Prospects list is unveiled? -- @KyleWeatherly6

We’re currently working on our new Top 100, though we’re far from having it finalized at this point. On the current list, Williams comes in at No. 53, behind Jack Leiter who, at No. 45, is our current No. 10 right-handed pitching prospect. That list will undoubtedly change, though it remains to be seen if and when Williams will jump onto it.

The East Carolina product, who was the Guardians’ first-round pick in 2021, certainly has made a case to be added. The 6-foot-6 right-hander jumped on the fast track after spending the majority of his first full season in Double-A. And he dominated, leading the Minors with his .173 batting average against, ranking third with a 1.96 ERA and sporting a K/9 rate of 11.7. I think the only small thing that holds him back at all is his overall command, though his 3.1 BB/9 will work just fine if his stuff -- a four-pitch mix headlined by a fastball that flirts with triple-digits and a really good curve -- pans out. More important to Guardians fans than his placement on a prospects list is that he should be ready to contribute in Cleveland soon.