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2023 season preview: starting pitching prospects to watch

Outside of that one guy...

MLB: Spring Training-Philadelphia Phillies at Detroit Tigers Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s get the obvious one out of the way...

The obvious ones: Andrew Painter, Mick Abel, Griff McGarry

Listen, these are the top three names this team has to offer. Painter would have broken camp with the team had his elbow not been barking during camp, but he’ll be up in Philadelphia soon enough. Abel might get a spot start at some point, but that feels unlikely. McGarry still feels more like a multi-inning weapon out of the bullpen, but the front office doesn’t see him like that just yet. We’ve written enough about this trio. Let’s move on.

The depth guy: Michael Plassmeyer

Plassmeyer is an interesting guy. Prior to 2022, I’m not sure I had ever heard of him. Fangraphs wasn’t really all that high on him either, not including him at all on their rankings at the start of the season. In fact, he wasn’t really high up on anyone’s prospect rankings, just serving as some roster fodder the team could call up if necessary. Then he started throwing strikes. Once he started throwing strikes, hitters started making lots of outs. Once they started making out, Plassmeyer started to move up in the eyes of teams.

Now, he’s someone who might be able to make a spot start or two without the team losing too much at the end of the rotation. No one would be expecting him to perform similarly to someone like Painter or Abel, but as a pitcher who could be called up in a pinch to make a start, there are a lot of worse ways a team could go.

The “oh man, we just need an arm today to DFA tomorrow” guy: Kyle Hart

From everything that has been put out there, the Phillies had some trouble finding those minor league signings that teams grab to stock their upper levels with easily disposable depth. We’re talking about those kinds of guys who are just hoping for another shot at the majors and are latching onto teams in spring training in the hopes they show enough to be considered the first guy up in case of injury. The Phillies have an issue where they have so few spots open right now, players signed elsewhere because the path to those possible jobs were less crowded.

Think about it. The Phillies’ starting pitching depth chart probably looks something like this:

  1. Zack Wheeler
  2. Aaron Nola
  3. Ranger Suarez
  4. Taijuan Walker
  5. Bailey Falter
  6. Andrew Painter
  7. Michael Plassmeyer
  8. Nick Nelson
  9. Cristopher Sanchez

That’s a lot of people that would have to get hurt for a minor league veteran to even get a shot. So, the usual depth that populates the upper levels just isn’t there in case of emergency, which means there is a tough crop to chose from. However, the Phillies did make an under the radar signing that can fall into this kind of category.

Kyle Hart signed a minor league deal with the Phillies this offseason. That isn’t really any reason to celebrate, but he does provide the team with someone they can yo-yo back and forth a bit. He wouldn’t necessarily be cut by the team if there is an injury, but since he’s not on the 40-man roster, he’ll need to be added. That would then mean unless he shows something superlative, he’d need to be passed through waivers before being sent back down to Lehigh Valley if they want to preserve that open roster spot. Like they always say:

Someone needs to make the ride to and from Lehigh Valley during a season and Hart might just be the guy to do it.