I think it’s safe to say that Darick Hall and Bailey Falter were the unsung heroes of the 2022 Phillies pennant.
Think about it. Last year, the Phils lost Bryce Harper for almost three months with a broken wrist, removing one of their two left-handed power bats from the lineup. In stepped AAA first baseman Darick Hall, thrust into the cleanup spot from his very first game in place of Harper, and all Hall did is slug .522 in 41 games with 9 HRs and 8 doubles, keeping the offense afloat until Harper’s return.
The Phillies also lost their ace, Zack Wheeler, for the final month-plus of the season. Into the breach stepped Falter, who, in eight starts from August 20 through September 30 posted a 3.07 ERA while the team went 6-2 in those starts. Aside from six-run outing against the Braves, Falter did not give up more than three earned runs in any of those final eight starts, and gave up two or less in seven of them. Without Falter stabilizing the rotation, it’s likely the Phils don’t win that final wild card spot.
Prospects matter, even for teams as loaded with talent at the big league level as the 2023 Phillies. Hopes are high this year’s team will be aided by the game’s top pitching prospect, 19-year-old Andrew Painter at some point, with other prospects like pitchers Mike Abel and Griff McGarry offering hope a new wave of young stud pitching is on the way, too, perhaps aiding this year’s team to another World Series appearance.
On the latest edition of Hittin’ Season, Phillies Director of Player Development Preston Mattingly, who joined the Phillies prior to the start of last season and has helped oversee Dave Dombrowski’s quest to reorient how the organization drafts and develops young players. Mattingly joined me this week to talk about a wide range of topics regarding the farm system.
You can also watch the interview in full here:
One of the top areas of discussion... what are the Phils’ plans for Andrew Painter? How will they determine his usage if they want him with the big league club for the whole season? Will there be a pitch limit? Mattingly indicated there would not be.
MATTINGLY: “One thing I’ll say about [Painter] is that he’s a very mature kid, mentally and physically. Even though he’s only 19 years old, he spent the whole off-season at Cressey [ ], where he spent the bulk of his high school career, so we think he’s going to be in a really good spot, and I think he’ll tell us how far he think he can get, right? You see other organizations have done that with their young prospects. Let’s not set a cap on guys, let’s trust what we’re seeing from a data perspective, and kind of take it as far as he can go.”
Mattingly says the team certainly has a type of prospect they like — big bodies with high ceilings and projectable upsides. Painter, Abel and McGarry certainly fall into that mix. I also asked Mattingly how many of his prospects he thinks should be consensus Top-100 prospects in the league.
“I think we should have, at least, the main three... Andy Painter, Mick Abel and Griff McGarry, to me, should be on any top-100 list. If they’re not, it’s hard for me to take the list seriously. And then I think Hao Yu Lee is another guy who should be squarely in that mix, with Justin Crawford as well.”
Interestingly, Mattingly did not mention center field prospect Johan Rojas as a potential top-100 player, placing him outside their top-five. Gabriel Rincones was mentioned as a prospect to watch this season, and said 22-year-old right-hander Andrew Baker could be a potential bullpen call-up for this year’s Phils as well.
Certainly there will be debate and disagreement among the prospect community regarding Mattingly’s opinions, but there is hope the 2023 Phillies will get the same kind of help from their minor league system that they got in 2022.