5 Philadelphia Phillies Pitching Prospects Who Could Make Their Debut in 2013
One of the brightest spots of the Philadelphia Phillies' organization is the depth of their pitching prospects.
From Low-A Lakewood all the way up to Triple-A Lehigh Valley, the Phillies have several promising arms, both in the bullpen and starters who will contribute to the major league club in the very near future.
Once the Phillies decided to engage in a fire sale at this past season's trade deadline, the Phillies wanted to add depth to their organization. They added a starting pitcher who was a former first-round draft pick to a minor league system filled with "Baby Aces."
The Phillies' scouting department has done a fantastic job in developing young talent and bringing in players who have the skill set to contribute at the major league level.
Here are five Phillies pitching prospects who have a chance to make their major league debut at some point during the 2013 season.
At 22 years of age, right-handed starting pitching prospect Jonathan Pettibone finished the 2012 season in Triple-A Lehigh Valley, he made seven starts for them and went 4-1 with a 2.55 ERA.
Between Double-A and Triple-A, Pettibone made 26 starts going 13-8 with a 3.10 ERA. He struck out 113 batters, walked 49 and threw 159.2 innings. All quality numbers for a 22-year-old rising through a system with several quality arms.
Pettibone continues to rise quickly in the organization; he was selected in the third round in the 2008 draft. Rising a level every year he has been in the organization, he made the leap from Double-A to Triple-A during the last part of 2012.
He is not a pitcher who is going to blow away the radar gun, but it is Pettibone's command of his pitches which has allowed him to rise so quickly. His understanding of what it takes to get hitters out is what separates him from the rest of the Phillies' pitching prospects.
After Tyler Cloyd, if the Phillies need a spot starter in 2013, look for Pettibone to be the first to get the call from Lehigh Valley.
Going into 2012, starting pitching prospect and former fourth-round pick Trevor May was the No. 1 prospect in the Phillies' organization. He has a fastball that consistently hits 95 to 96 mph and a quality curveball that can keep hitters off balance. The 23-year-old power house stands 6'5'' and weighs in at 215 pounds.
He has the raw tools to be a middle to top of the rotation starter if he can gain a better grasp on his command of the strike zone.
May started and finished 2012 at Double-A Reading. He had flashes of brilliance, accompanied by games where he was anything but consistent.
May finished the season 10-13 with a 4.87 ERA. He struck out 151 batters, but he struggles with his command, walking 78 in 149.2 innings.
We will get to take a long look at May in spring training; hopefully, he will get to learn a lot by being around the Phillies' staff. The Phillies really like May's ceiling, but he must work on his command if he wants to have a chance to make it to the big leagues and contribute.
If the Phillies suffer a few injuries to the rotation or find themselves out of the race in September, May might get a chance to make his major league debut in 2013.
Former first-round pick, drafted 15th overall by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2008, Ethan Martin was the key acquisition that sent Shane Victorino to the Dodgers at this year's trade deadline.
Martin was then sent to Double-A Reading and did nothing but impress in his seven starts. He finished his time at Reading with a 5-0 record and a 3.18 ERA. He tossed 39.3 innings and struck out 35.
Martin, like May, has struggled with his command from time to time. It will be interesting to see where the Phillies place him in 2013. He could find himself up in Triple-A Lehigh or back in Reading. Martin will most likely get a long look in spring training.
If he pitches well, he could be near the top of the rotation at Lehigh, and if he struggles, he will have to prove himself all over again at Double-A.
Martin has the ability to be a quality major league starter. If May and Pettibone struggle in 2013, Martin could very well find himself getting a spot start during the season or being called up to the big leagues in September.
Twenty-two-year-old Lisalverto Bonilla began his professional career as a starting pitcher; he started 15 games for Low-A Lakewood in 2011. Then, the Phillies moved him to the bullpen, where he spent all of 2012 and did nothing but succeed.
Bonilla spent the beginning of 2012 with Clearwater; he dominated the competition and was promoted to Double-A Reading. He threw a total of 46.1 innings and finished the year with a 1.55 ERA, striking out 46 and walking just 17. Hitters hit just .191 off of Bonilla in 2012.
With his success, Bonilla was selected to participate in the 2012 All-Star Futures, but he had to miss the game after suffering a thumb injury.
Bonilla will have a tough time making it to the majors in 2013 because the Phillies have a plethora of young bullpen arms. He needs to continue to put up outstanding numbers to stay on the Phillies' radar. The Phillies will take a long look at him this spring to see if he has what it takes to continue to rise in the organization.
If the injury bug strikes the Phillies' bullpen again we could see Bonilla make his major league debut sometime in 2013.
The long shot of this group to make his major league debut in 2013 is the Phillies' 2010 first-round pick and the organization's top prospect, left-handed starting pitching prospect Jesse Biddle.
The 20-year-old Biddle is coming off of an excellent year where he pitched the entire season at High-A Clearwater. Most Phillies' fans believed Biddle should have been promoted, but the Phillies decided to have him complete a full season at one level.
Biddle started 26 games and finished the season with a 10-6 record. In his 142.2 innings pitched, he struck out 151, walked 54, only gave up 10 home runs and finished the year with a 3.22 ERA.
The Phillies' No. 1 prospect is one of the top left-handed pitching prospects in all of baseball. He has the potential to be a top-of-the-rotation starter with a solid mix of off-speed pitches and a quality fastball to keep hitters honest.
2013 spring training will be huge for Biddle; it is a great time to learn how major leaguers handle themselves on and off the field. Valuable information that can really help the 20-year-old progress quickly.
It looks as if he will start the season with Double-A Reading, and the rest is up to him.
Cole Hamels only started three games for Reading and then three games for Triple-A affiliate Scranton Wilkes-Barre before being promoted to the major leagues. So anything can happen.
With a quality 2013 campaign and a little luck, Biddle may be used as a spot starter or he could possibly make a start sometime in September.
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