Spring Training Preview: The Philadelphia Phillies Pitchers

Aaron Nola leads the Philadelphia pitching staff
The Phillies will enter the start of Spring Training this week with 61 players at camp in Clearwater, Fla. The everyday starting lineup is penciled in, but uncertainty surrounds the starting rotation and some backup roles.

Here is the first of the Philadelphia Baseball Review's two-part introductory series highlighting the names that'll be in camp. This part deals specifically with the 31 pitchers that'll see action this spring.

Asterisk indicates the player is a non-roster invitee to camp.

PITCHERS
RHP Drew Anderson (24): Thumped in two appearances at the big league level last year, he projects as a backend spot starter at best. Finished with a 3.59 ERA in 21 starts last season at Reading.

RHP Victor Arano (23): A bullpen arm that can throw strikes, he pitched well in 10 games with the Phillies last season. Fastball sits in the mid-90s and he's always had a great K/BB rate.

* RHP Pedro Beato (31): Has pitched only 15 innings at the big league level over the past five years. He's little more than organizational depth at this point.

LHP Zac Curtis (25): Claimed off waivers last September, Curtis pitched in three games with the Phillies last season out of the bullpen. His career WHIP of 1.62 in 27 appearances at the big league level though tells you all you need to know.

* RHP Enyel De Los Santos (22): Yet to make his big league debut, he was the return from the Padres for Freddy Galvis. He put up decent numbers at double-A last year and is likely headed to Reading to open 2018.

RHP Seranthony Dominquez (23): A starter for his young career, the Phillies are transitioning him to a reliever this year. He can hit 100-mph on the gun and routinely sits in the high 90's with an electric fastball. Not ready yet, but soon.

RHP Zach Eflin (23): A 5.85 ERA over 22 career starts is troublesome, plus he dealt with shoulder issues last year before being shut down in August. He's young enough to turn things around, but time's running out.

RHP Jerad Eickhoff (27): Season ended early due to a nerve issue in his pitching hand. If healthy he should be a serviceable innings eater with an ERA hovering near 4.25. He's the likely No. 2 starter entering camp.

* RHP Tom Eshelman (24): Enters spring with an outside chance of landing a spot in the rotation. He won the Paul Owens Award last season as the organization's top minor league pitcher. He posted a 2.23 ERA last season in 18 starts at triple-A.

RHP Luis Garcia (31): Looking to replicate last year's success, he'll open the season as an option at the backend of the bullpen. He can pitch nearly every other day and can give more than an inning if needed.

* RHP J.D. Hammer (23): Acquired in the deadline deal last year that sent Pat Neshek to Colorado, he finished the season with 85 strikeouts over 57 2/3 innings. He'll likely open the season at double-A Reading. By the way, you'll love his "Wild Thing" thick black frames.

RHP Tommy Hunter (31): A new face to the organization, he'll be a backend bullpen option. Opponents hit just .202 off him last season.

* LHP Cole Irvin (24): An All-Star last year at Clearwater, he earned a mid-season promotion to double-A Reading where he finished 5-3 with a 4.06 ERA. That's probably where he'll begin the 2018 campaign.

RHP Franklyn Kilome (22): A rising prospect in the organization, he's expected to begin the season in the starting rotation at double-A. Needs to develop a quality second pitch beyond his fastball.

* LHP Brandon Leibrandt (25): Made 25 starts last year between Reading and Lehigh Valley, finishing 11-5 with a 3.62 ERA. Likely to be called upon at some point this season to make his big league debut.

RHP Mark Leiter (26): A decent strikeout-to-walk ratio makes him an intriguing option as a starter, but opponents hit .280 off him as a starter as opposed to just .198 as a reliever last season. He'll be someone to watch early this spring.

RHP Ben Lively (25): Pieced together a great seven starts last year prior to the All-Star break, but his ERA jumped nearly by an entire run in the second half. A solid spring should guarantee him a slot in the middle of the rotation.

LHP Holby Milner (27): A nice ERA in his rookie campaign last year of 2.01, but he put up a horrendous 1.47 WHIP.

LHP Adam Morgan (27): Nothing really more than depth, he transitioned into a reliever last season and put up mediocre results.

RHP Hector Neris (28): He was a surprise last season with 26 saves and put up solid figures across the board, including striking out more than a batter an inning. He'll open the season as the Phillies closer.

RHP Pat Neshek (37): He said prior to being dealt last year that he wanted to return to Philadelphia, and so here he is. A great eighth-inning option that thrived pitching in Citizens Bank Park.

RHP Aaron Nola (24): The staff ace, he put up fantastic numbers last year and improved as the season wore on. He turned in one of the highest strikeout rates in the majors, fanning 184 batters in 168 innings.

RHP Ricardo Pinto (24): Do or die time for "Pinto Bean" as he ended last year with a horrific 7.89 ERA and 1.89 WHIP in 29 appearances. View him for now as farm system depth.

RHP Nick Pivetta (24): Needs an impressive spring to nail down a rotation slot, he finished last year with a 6.02 ERA and 1.51 WHIP over 26 starts. Posted a 7.05 ERA post the All-Star break.

RHP Edubray Ramos (25): Had a rough first half last season but turned things around with a fantastic second half highlighted by a 2.70 ERA and 1.09 WHIP. A likely middle relief option to open the year.

RHP Yacksel Rios (24): Great minor league numbers last year split between Reading and Lehigh Valley, but he faltered a bit with the big league club. Unless the unthinkable happens he'll open the season back at triple-A.

* RHP Francisco Rodriguez (36): He's seeking one last chance at big league success. The 16-year-veteran is battling a spot in the bullpen and has experience as an All-Star closer, but he was terrible last year with a 7.82 ERA over 28 appearances with Detroit. A strong spring may earn him a bullpen spot.

LHP Ranger Suarez (22): A rising prospect that's probably still two years away from making an impact at the big league level. It's possible he'll open the season in Reading's starting rotation.

RHP Jose Taveras (24): Another young arm with upside, he'll start the season at double-A Reading.

RHP Jake Thompson (24): A candidate to open the season in the starting rotation, his biggest issue is pitching to too much contact. He's not overpowering and hangs around the middle of the plate too much, as evidenced partly by his 1.55 WHIP last season.

RHP Vince Velasquez (25): A disastrous campaign last year ended with surgery to repair a vascular issue with his right middle finger. He can throw, but that's different than pitching. He's prone to leaving pitches over the plate and needs to improve with his location. This is potentially his last shot at remaining as a starter because he may ultimately be best used out of the bullpen.
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Follow Patrick on Twitter: @PGordonPBR

BY PATRICK GORDON
Managing Editor
pgordon@philadelphiabaseballreview.com

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