Kapler content with giving young Phillies hurlers another look

Mark Leiter Jr. is one of several young Phillies aiming for a rotation spot
First-year manager Gabe Kapler isn't oblivious to the uncertainty surrounding the Phillies' starting rotation, but he's content leaving decision making to ownership and general manager Matt Klentak.

"I have a lot of trust that we'll either go in with a new toy or we will pass on the opportunity because we're better off giving this collection of pitchers a really healthy look," Kapler said Tuesday as he and several players were in town for the annual Philadelphia Sports Writers Association Dinner.

"We have some guys who are extremely promising for any number of reasons. Nick Pivetta lights me up because of his ability to miss bats at the top of the zone. Watching his video from last year, his slider can be electric at times. [Jerad] Eickhoff is very, very interesting on a number of levels. Across the board, we have a lot of 'What are we going to see?' rather than what we can depend on."

Kapler's 'what if' sentiment is an appealing ideology for a club looking to shed its skin after averaging 95 losses over three straight seasons. The leash will undoubtedly be short, but it's possible the internal options are a better long-term answer for the Phillies.

"Sometimes people are just looking for big names. Sometimes people are just looking for status," said Mark Leiter Jr., one of the unproven arms in the Phillies' stable of internal options. "I think if you give some of our guys a chance and let them grow, you're going to see some really good pitching.

"[Making the jump to the Major Leagues] is a big adjustment. You're facing the best of the best and they've seen a lot of pitching. You've only seen some big league hitters on rehab or whatever. But when you get the chance to keep competing (against them), you see that you belong and you can compete at this level. This year should be a lot of fun and hopefully, we surprise a lot of people."

Joining Leiter, Pivetta, and Eickhoff in the mix are Vince Velasquez, Zach Eflin, Jake Thompson, and Ben Lively - average age of the six is 25.

"I have confidence that we're going to be in a good spot," Eickhoff said. "There are a lot of guys who have done a lot of things and still have a lot to prove."

Klentak and Co. pulled the pin on the rebuilding process in December with the signing of free-agent first baseman Carlos Santana to a three-year deal for $60 million. No, a parade isn't imminent, but the move signifies a cultural shift where the 'wait and see' approach with younger players likely won't last much longer at Citizens Bank Park.

The timeline to showcase major league viability as a starting pitcher for this stable of young hurlers is a lot shorter now than it was just two months ago.
___________________________________________
Follow Patrick on Twitter: @PGordonPBR

BY PATRICK GORDON
Managing Editor
pgordon@philadelphiabaseballreview.com

No comments: