We continue our countdown of top prospects here at The Good Phight, counting backwards from 20 to our top prospect.
Mick Abel, 20 years old, RHP
Abel has been the best pitching prospect his age since his sophomore year of high school, and he’s continued to track like an impact starter early on as a pro. He has the prototypical starter’s frame at a broad-shouldered 6-foot-5, already throws hard, and should be able to at least hold that kind of velocity for entire big league seasons thanks to his looseness and flexibility, and perhaps add to it as his frame fills out. Abel was already sitting in the 90-94 mph range as a sophomore, then climbed into the 93-96 range and has stayed there for all but the dog days of his pre-draft summer when he was clearly tired. His fastball averaged 95.4 mph during the 2021 season, a year in which his overall numbers, especially his strikeout and walk rates, should be viewed with a grain of salt as he was pitching in an experimental environment that made use of an automated strike zone (this applies to every player in Low-A Southeast in 2021). In addition to the big velocity, with which he tends to throw quality strikes, Abel has a strong natural proclivity for spinning his breaking stuff, and his low-to-mid-80s slurve is already an above-average pitch and could be a 70-grade shove machine at maturity. Abel will also flash a really good changeup once in a while; that pitch tends to be in the 86-89 mph range. We’re projecting heavily on Abel’s command in anticipation of him growing into his body and arm strength. If he can consistently execute his secondary stuff — his breaking ball is way ahead of his changeup in this regard — Abel will be a front-end arm.
Jay: 1, Ethan: 1, Alex: 1
I’m of the belief that the player development system is there first and foremost to produce major league talent for the parent club. Hand in hand with that, I believe that the player development system is there to produce pieces to be used to help strengthen the major league club via trade. If another team has a player that would make your club better and sending prospects back in a deal would make that deal happen, the team should do it. Stubbornly holding on to prospects for fear that they might turn out to be good can hurt an organization, particularly one like the Phillies that are in the midst of several player’s primes right now and cannot afford to waste them waiting on prospects to mature.
Mick Abel is the one player I would not trade to any team for any reason. He is the untouchable.
I also don’t really subscribe to the TINSTAAPP theory either. Pitchers are prospects too. Are they more volatile? Sure they are, but their long term value to an organization cannot be overstated. A top pitching prospect is worth his weight in gold and if a team has one that many believe will turn into an ace, they should exhaust all possible resources to make sure that outcome comes to fruition in that organization.
Abel has all of the things that a team looks for - the physicality, the projection, the stuff, the makeup - all of it is there for him to reach that level of pitching. The Phillies should be making sure that he reaches that height in Philadelphia. There are several that believe Abel has the stuff and makeup to move quickly in the organization, that all he needs is innings. 2022 could be the year where he starts to have the reins taken off of him a bit, allowing him to stretch out in starts and accumulate more innings under his belt. I have heard that it is not out of the realm of possibility he can get to Double-A Reading this season if all things break right for him. Should he be able to do that, a 2023 debut isn’t so far-fetched.
There are things that could go wrong. Development is not linear, after all. But there are enough signs there that Abel could be on the fast track to Philadelphia. Let’s just hope that he can be everything we think he can be.