I think it’s safe to say that Darrick Hall and Bailey Falter were the unsung heroes of the 2022 Phillies bullpen.
Think about it. Last year, the Phils lost Bryce Harper for nearly three months to a broken wrist, sidelining one of their two left-handed power bats. AAA first baseman Darrick Hall stepped into the cleanup spot in his first game in place of Harper, and all Hall did was hit .522 with 9 HR and 8 doubles in 41 games, keeping the offense going until Harper returned.
The Phillies also lost their ace, Zach Wheeler, in the final month of the season. Into the offense was Falter, who posted a 3.07 ERA in eight starts from Aug. 20 to Sept. 30 while the team went 6-2 in those starts. Aside from the six-run outing against the Braves, Falter hasn’t given up more than three earned runs in any of those last eight starts, and has given up two or fewer in seven of them. Without Falter stabilizing the rotation, it’s likely the Phils won’t clinch the last wild card spot.
Prospects are important even for teams loaded with major league-level talent like the 2023 Phillies. Hopes are high that this year’s team will be aided by the game’s best player, 19-year-old Andrew Painter, at some point, and other prospects such as pitchers Mike Abel and Griff McGarry, giving hope that a new wave of young studs is on the way. , too, perhaps helping this year’s team make another World Series appearance.
In the latest edition of Hittin’ Season, Phillies Director of Player Development Preston Mattingly, who joined the Phillies before the start of last season and 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 its entirety here.
One of the main areas of discussion… what are the Phils’ plans for Andrew Painter? How will they determine his usage if they want him to be with the big league club for the entire season? Will there be a pitch limit? It was conveniently stated that it would not.
“I will tell you about one thing [Painter] is that he is a very mature child, mentally and physically. Although he is only 19 years old, he has spent the entire offseason at Crecy [ ], where he spent most of his high school career, so we think he’s going to be in a really good place, and I think he’s going to tell us how far he can go, right? You see other organizations have done this with their young prospects. Let’s not put a limit on guys, let’s trust what we’re seeing from a data standpoint and kind of take it as far as it can go.”
Mattingly says the team certainly has a prospect they like: big bodies with high ceilings and predictable injuries. Painter, Abel and McGarry certainly fall into that mix. I also asked Mattingly how many prospects he thinks should be top 100 prospects in the league.
“I think we should have at least a top three … Andy Painter, Mick Abel and Griff McGarry should be in the top 100 in my opinion. If they aren’t, it’s hard for me to take the list seriously. And then I think Hao Yu Li is another guy who should be in the mix, along with Justin Crawford.”
Interestingly, Mattingly did not list center field prospect Johan Rojas as a top-100 prospect, ranking him outside of 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 firecracker for the Phils this year as well.
There will certainly be debate and disagreement among the prospect community about Mattingly’s opinions, but the hope is that the 2023 Phillies will get the same help from their minor league system that they did in 2022.