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Phillies' young arms already impressing Kapler

Pivetta, Velasquez have earned skipper's praise, but front office still pursuing rotation help
MLB.com @ToddZolecki

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Phillies manager Gabe Kapler is upbeat and optimistic by nature, so perhaps it is no surprise that he likes what he sees from his starting pitchers even before pitchers and catchers hold their first workout Wednesday at Carpenter Complex.

His optimism does not change the fact the Phillies front office is pursuing a free-agent starter. It knows it needs more certainty and stability in the rotation.

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Phillies manager Gabe Kapler is upbeat and optimistic by nature, so perhaps it is no surprise that he likes what he sees from his starting pitchers even before pitchers and catchers hold their first workout Wednesday at Carpenter Complex.

His optimism does not change the fact the Phillies front office is pursuing a free-agent starter. It knows it needs more certainty and stability in the rotation.

"[Phillies general manager] Matt [Klentak] and I discussed today, and he's looking under every stone to improve our roster and give us a better chance to win baseball games," Kapler said Tuesday. "The one thing I would say is that our starting pitching is looking very promising. Obviously, we've talked a lot this winter about some of our young pitchers, but to be able to get eyeballs on them and see them in the bullpen has made me much more confident that what we need is what we have in the room right now. That's not to say that we don't go out and make additions. We still have time to do that. But what we have is pretty exhilarating."

Spring Training information

Kapler cited recent bullpen sessions from Nick Pivetta, Vince Velasquez and others.

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

"The combination of actually seeing the stuff with my eyes and seeing how exceptional their condition is," Kapler said. "Velasquez stands out to me as a guy who looks incredibly healthy and strong. Kranny [pitching coach Rick Kranitz] has been raving about his last couple of bullpens, in specific the last one that he threw. You couldn't wipe the smile off Vince's face. The stuff was coming out with electricity. He was commanding his pitches. His presence was strong. And again, he looked especially healthy and strong. I guess the aggregate of all that would make me feel pretty confident right now."

Jake Arrieta remains on the market, but the Phillies are unlikely to sign him if he is looking for something similar to Yu Darvish's six-year, $125 million deal with the Cubs. But if Arrieta's asking price drops to the three-year range the Phillies would likely jump in.

Video: NYM@PHI: Velasquez whiffs Granderson in the 1st

The same could be said for Alex Cobb or Lance Lynn. They are pursuing multiyear deals, but their prices would have to drop considerably, too.

If Arrieta or others don't drop in price, the Phillies are most likely to sign a pitcher to a one-year deal.

Connecting: The first full-squad workout is Monday, but Kapler said he already has communicated with every player in camp.

"I think it's critical that we know each other as people, and that's going to take some time," Kapler said.

Asked if players have had any preconceived notions about him, he said, "I have gotten nothing but normal, human interaction from our guys. Shake hands, look them in the eye, tell them how happy you are to be working with them, and I've gotten just the same in return. So, no, I haven't felt any preconceived notions."

Video star: Kapler occasionally has been taking his own videos of workouts.

"I think images are very powerful," he said. "I think video is very powerful. I think sharing images of people doing great work, of themselves doing great work, can be a great way to just endorse that. 'Hey, this swing looked tremendous …'

"I just think that stuff, it's easy, it doesn't take a whole lot of energy and effort, so why not? I like reviewing the videos myself, looking for mechanical cues, something that I might be able to share with a player. Definitely, definitely think it's important."

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

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