Here at The Good Phight, we’re a little different. Instead of making top ten prospects lists, we’ll be talking about some of the players in the minors that can help the team more immediately in 2024. We’re borrowing from a lot of public information about prospects to give an overview of how the players might fit into the team’s 2024 plans, be it at the beginning of the season or a random Tuesday in July.
Tommy John surgery is a scourge among the people in the baseball community. Not only does it rob teams of a promising arm (or, less often, a bat) during crucial times of development, but more importantly, it robs players of time needed to get themselves acclimated to the ladder towards MLB.
For a player like Christian McGowan, it has not only robbed him of valuable development time, it’s worked against him when it comes to the team needing to make a decision on him regarding the 40-man roster. He was drafted as a starter and used as a starter with the Phillies, but his needing to go under the knife in 2022 meant that last season was mostly used to get him innings. What does his future ultimately look like once he makes the major leagues?
For a pitcher just back from surgery, McGowan showed solid command, but he will need to tighten it up as he had a tendency to miss out of the zone on non-competitive pitches. His fastball-slider combination gives him a solid reliever fall back, especially since he has flashed higher end velocity. However, since he looked solid in his return and the Phillies lack any sort of starting pitching depth, it would be in their best interest to see if he can build on his 2023 season. Unless his changeup steps forward and he can really start to locate, he is probably more of a solid #4 starter, but there is a little more upside than that if he has another gear after a healthy offseason.
He got back on the mound last summer, and while the Phillies took it relatively easy with the 23-year-old’s rehab and ramp up, by the dog days, he was flashing a plus sinker/slider combo on the Jersey Shore. McGowan also has enough change to crossover, but didn’t really show the stamina or command to start. Granted, 2023 was more about getting his sea legs back under him in the pros, but given he’ll be 24 next year—and Philadelphia will have to make a 40-man call next offseason—it might be best to see how well the stuff plays up in short bursts. And McGowan has setup-inning potential given the arsenal.
McGowan looks like a reliever from a stuff, build, and mechanics standpoint. His changeup lags behind his sinker/slider combo, and the 2024 season is his 40-man evaluation year, so there are internal and external pressures funneling him toward relief even though the Phillies’ usage of him in 2023 suggests they might keep stretching him out. Pushed all the way to Triple-A late in 2023, McGowan has a shot to debut in 2024 if the Phillies just ‘pen him like they did with Orion Kerkering, and he’s a virtual lock to debut in 2025 if he holds this stuff.
It’s the same kind of profile through three different experts: though he’s probably going to start to get his innings up, ultimately he’s probably a reliever.
If the team decides that maybe he actually is better suited for that role in the majors and wishes to speed him up a bit, there is the outside chance he comes to Philadelphia this summer. Of course, this would also probably mean catastrophic injuries have occurred and/or the options ahead of him on the pecking order have failed miserably.
For now, there are dreams that maybe in September, hopefully once a playoff spot has been secured, McGowan has shown enough to get his feet wet in the majors, garnering a spot start to help with rest. Either that, or he’s used as someone to get a few relief innings to rest the big guys for the playoffs at hand.