The latest on Phillies' top 5 prospects

September 6th, 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.

The Phillies’ Minor League seasons are coming to an end this month, so we asked president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski a few questions Tuesday at Petco Park about the organization’s top prospects, according to MLB Pipeline:

1. Andrew Painter, RHP: Painter, 20, had Tommy John surgery in late July, ending a once promising season. He is in Clearwater, Fla., where he is in the very early stages of his long road to recovery. Painter will not pitch competitively until 2025.

2. Mick Abel, RHP: Abel is 4-5 with a 4.52 ERA with Double-A Reading. He has struck out 111 and walked 57 in 97 2/3 innings. He did not take the step forward like many had hoped this season. But Abel turned 22 last month. He is talented. There is time.

“He continues to carry his stuff forward,” Dombrowski said. “His stuff is really good. He’s working on a two-seamer, which I’ll think he’ll bring into his repertoire more next season. But he’s also in a position where he needs to work on his command, throw more strikes. But that happens with young guys. We like him a great deal. He doesn’t have a real violent or awkward delivery, so we just think that through a lot of work that we do with him that he can throw more strikes.”

3. Justin Crawford, CF: Crawford, 19, has been one of the organization’s best stories this year. The Phillies loved him when they selected him with the 17th overall pick in 2022, but he has exceeded expectations. He slashed .344/.399/.478 in 308 plate appearances with Single-A Clearwater. He is slashing .278/.339/.407 in 13 games since his promotion to High-A Jersey Shore.

“To see a young player like that come out of high school and succeed right away in Clearwater, then go into High-A and do what he’s doing, very impressive,” Dombrowski said. “He’s a very talented individual that will continue to grow. I think he has a bright, bright future. Like Abel, these guys are very talented, but everybody grows at difference paces. So you don’t rush it. That’s what we’ll do with him.”

4. Aidan Miller, SS. This year’s first-round pick is batting .292 (7-for-24) with a double and a triple in his first seven games with Clearwater. Super small sample size, of course. But the Phillies are encouraged with how well he has hit, considering he missed almost his entire senior season of high school because of a broken hand.

“He’s going to hit, and he’s going to hit for power,” Dombrowski said. “We put him at shortstop. Time will tell if he’s going to remain there.”

5. Griff McGarry, RHP. Back in April, it was not farfetched to think McGarry could help the Phillies this season. But after some encouraging performances in Reading, McGarry struggled tremendously in Triple-A. In just 4 1/3 innings, he allowed eight hits, 20 runs and 14 walks. He struck out five.

He was recently placed on the development list for a second time. He will not pitch again this season.

“Some of it might be the adjustment to the baseball, it’s a little different at Triple-A,” Dombrowski said. “There’s the automated strike zone, which makes a difference. When all that stuff starts to happen, sometimes you speed up your delivery. We still like him a great deal. He’s got good stuff. But he’s going to have to settle in and throw more strikes. We’ve got a plan that includes now and in the wintertime. We have to do work so that he throws more strikes. No doubt about that.”

Asked if the Phillies still see him as a starter, Dombrowski said, “At this point, yes.”

In a perfect version of 2023, Painter is healthy and pitches for the Phillies, while Abel or McGarry take enough of a step forward that they consider them options to compete for jobs next spring.

None of that will happen now.

“I mean, we still have some time to play, so I’ll hold my judgment,” Dombrowski said. “But based upon what we know so far, I’d say I don’t think that I’d count on them. If they came in [next spring], it would be a pleasant surprise. But I think guys like that, once they put it together, they can come very quickly. But I also would say I’m also not counting on them being in our rotation for the beginning of next season.”