Week after week, eye-popping pitching line after eye-popping pitching line, Phillies officers attempted to position Andrew Painter’s season in context. It wasn’t simple as a result of few witnessed the rest find it irresistible.
It all started in Clearwater, Fla., the place Painter collected a 1.40 ERA and 69 strikeouts in 38⅔ innings over 9 begins in low-A ball. It persevered in Lakewood, N.J., excessive A, with a zero.98 ERA and 49 strikeouts in 36⅔ innings over 8 begins. And it wound up at double-A Studying, the place the 6-foot-7 right-hander had a 2.54 ERA and 37 strikeouts in 28⅓ innings over 5 begins.
Not too long ago, after a seven-inning, nine-strikeout gem in Painter’s 3rd double-A get started, a dialog started, most commonly for kicks, about pitchers who made a major-league get started at age 19. Within the closing twenty years, there have been 4: Julio Urías (2016), Madison Bumgarner (2009), Félix Hernández (2005), and Edwin Jackson (2003). That’s it. That’s the listing.
The Phillies by no means thought to be including Painter’s identify. Now not this yr, a minimum of. However there’s nonetheless time. He doesn’t flip 20 till April 10, and president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski famous over the summer time that he hasn’t ever been afraid to fast-track pitching phenoms to the massive leagues after a brief stint within the minors.
“He has the functions to be as excellent as any younger pitcher that I’ve been round,” Dombrowski stated this week prior to the Phillies introduced Painter with the Paul Owens Award as their most sensible minor league pitcher. “And once I say that, there’s been some truly excellent ones that I’ve been round.”
Certainly, Dombrowski is one thing of a professional on this space. He was once a tender govt with the Chicago White Sox when Britt Burns made his major-league debut as a 19-year-old in 1978 and a yr later when Richard Dotson got here up at age 20. Dombrowski was once calling the pictures in Detroit when the Tigers gave rotation spots to 20-year-olds Jeremy Bonderman and Rick Porcello in 2003 and 2009, respectively.
And a couple of weeks in the past, when the topic became to Painter, Dombrowski introduced up any other former whiz child: Josh Beckett.
Dombrowski ran the Florida Marlins’ baseball operations in 1999 after they drafted Beckett with the No. 2 total pick of a Texas highschool. Painter was once Dombrowski’s first first-round select with the Phillies, thirteenth total closing yr out of Calvary Christian Top Faculty in Florida. Like Painter, Beckett was once tall (6-foot-5) and right-handed, with an upper-90s fastball that earned him the nickname “Child Warmth.” He additionally buckled hitters’ knees along with his curveball and slowed their bats with a changeup, secondary pitches which might be a part of Painter’s repertoire, together with a depraved slider.
Beckett spent two years at the farm prior to getting referred to as up, at age 21, for the general month of a 2001 season that started along with his throwing 39 consecutive scoreless innings in excessive A (Painter had a 32-inning scoreless streak this summer time) and incorporated seven innings of a mixed no-hitter in double A. He had a 1.50 ERA in 4 September begins for the out-of-contention Marlins, then took a typical flip of their rotation in 2002.
A yr after that, Beckett tossed a five-hit shutout at Yankee Stadium within the clinching recreation of the International Collection.
“Only a heck of a competitor and nice stuff,” stated Phillies 3rd base trainer Dusty Wathan, who stuck Beckett at double-A Portland in 2001. “From what I’ve observed of Painter on video — I haven’t were given to look him throw in particular person, truly — it’s more or less the similar construct, similar arsenal. I don’t know him in my view but, however from what I pay attention, it might be the similar factor. And whether it is, guy, that’s one thing particular.”
The minor league numbers are virtually a reflect symbol.
Beckett in 2001: 1.54 ERA, 38.7% strikeout charge, 6.5% stroll charge in 140 innings over 25 begins.
Painter in 2022: 1.56 ERA, 38.7% strikeout charge, 6.2% stroll charge in 103⅔ innings over 22 begins.
“With out drawing person comparisons — as a result of the ones finally end up being mighty excessive whilst you get started speaking about Josh Becketts and Jeremy Bondermans and Rick Porcellos, Britt Burnses, Richard Dotsons, guys who I’ve been round who pitched at twenty years previous or 21 years previous — [Painter] can also be as excellent as any of the ones pitchers,” Dombrowski stated. “He’s were given super skills, he’s a troublesome employee. He’s a man that, he’s were given a couple of pitches. He’s a excellent athlete. He truly virtually touches the whole lot that you wish to have to have in a tender pitcher.”
Matt Hockenberry knew all about the ones bodily attributes prior to Painter arrived in Studying closing month because the youngest participant within the Japanese League. However what the double-A pitching trainer needed to see for himself, and what wound up catching his consideration in an instant, was once Painter’s really feel for pitching.
In A-ball, Painter and fellow first-round select Mick Abel can have been efficient in the event that they threw best high-octane warmers. As a substitute, they labored with the coaches to refine their secondary pitches and find out about learn how to very best deploy them.
Painter, for example, stated he spotted that double-A hitters to begin with attempted to take a seat on his fastball. As soon as he threw his curveball and changeup extra regularly, they needed to recognize the ones pitches. The changeup, specifically, disrupted hitters’ timing and made the fastball appear even sooner.
“The item that’s the maximum spectacular is his mentality and adulthood in the case of official baseball dialog and what he’s looking to accomplish day in and time out,” Hockenberry stated. “It isn’t simply in-game pitching stuff. It’s his preparation and his figuring out of learn how to undergo every week and what he’s looking to accomplish in each bullpen prior to his subsequent get started. It’s simply truly spectacular that he’s 19 years previous with the adulthood of an upper-level man.”
Wathan recalled a identical seriousness of objective with Beckett and Cole Hamels. Beckett and Hamels knew they have been sure for the majors, in line with Wathan, however sought after greater than to simply get there. They sought after to stick for a very long time.
Painter is the Phillies’ maximum touted pitching prospect since Hamels, a first-round pick of highschool in 2002 who made his major-league debut in 2006 at age 22. Hamels would have arrived quicker if now not for accidents, together with a damaged hand suffered in a bar combat in Clearwater prior to the 2005 season.
Dombrowski stated Painter, Abel, and fellow pitching prospect Griff McGarry shall be invited to major-league spring coaching. The Phillies can have a minimum of one emptiness within the rotation, with Kyle Gibson, Noah Syndergaard, and most likely Zach Eflin eligible at no cost company. There shall be alternative.
“Not anything has been stated like that,” Painter stated. “I’m going into the offseason like I at all times do — get within the weight room and get ready for spring coaching it doesn’t matter what, whether or not it’s double A, triple A, or right here all over the yr.
“It’s all shifting lovely instant. It’s more or less exhausting to get a grip on it. I used to be fascinated by it previous, how this primary yr has long gone through fast. It’s bizarre to assume how, to start with of the yr, I used to be in Clearwater, then I used to be at 3 other places. It’s for sure moved temporarily.”
If Painter makes his major-league debut subsequent season, he will be the Phillies’ youngest pitcher since Mark Davis made 9 begins as a 20-year-old in 1981.
Does Painter assume he’s in a position?
“100%,” he stated. “In the event that they’re in a position for that.”
Painter will spend the offseason in South Florida, the place he trains at Cressey Sports activities Efficiency, a facility that was once co-founded through Phillies director of pitching Brian Kaplan. A few of the pitchers who teach at Cressey: Justin Verlander, any other former phenom with a Dombrowski connection.
The Tigers drafted Verlander with the No. 2 total select in 2004. 13 months later, at age 22, the 6-foot-5 right-hander had a 1.29 ERA and 30% strikeout charge in 118⅔ innings prior to Dombrowski referred to as him up immediately from double A.
Dombrowski deliberately leaves out Verlander from his listing of fast-tracked pitchers for the reason that two-time Cy Younger Award winner and 2011 American League MVP were given drafted out of Outdated Dominion. School pitchers generally tend to transport during the minors extra temporarily than highschool pitchers.
However Painter indexed Verlander as his position style. When he sees him within the offseason, he has a tendency to stay his distance. This iciness, they’ll have extra to speak about.
Dombrowski would inspire the dialog. As it takes greater than skill to meet the promise of a pitching prodigy. Wathan indexed a 3rd pitcher the most effective he stuck within the minors: Ryan Anderson, a 6-foot-10 lefty within the Seattle Mariners group who didn’t make it out of triple A on account of shoulder accidents that both stemmed from or sparked questions on his paintings behavior.
“Something with each a type of guys,” Dombrowski stated, record off his choice of younger pitchers, “is they have been all pushed to be nice. Each unmarried one in all them. They’d super paintings ethic, and although they have been excellent, truly excellent, all of them persevered to paintings alongside those self same strains. I don’t assume [Painter] will fall off from a piece ethic [standpoint] from what we all know of him. I feel he’ll best make stronger in that regard.
“I don’t see any explanation why he can’t be as excellent as the ones guys. I feel he has the risk to be a truly, truly positive big-league pitcher.”