Matt Gelb of The Athletic first reported early on Sunday that the Phillies would be promoting pitchers Andrew Painter and Mick Abel from High-A Jersey Shore to Double-A Reading. Since then, multiple sources have confirmed that the moves will happen this week and that the two will start for Reading on Saturday and Sunday. Painter was placed on the Developmental List by Jersey Shore on Sunday, meaning that he would likely get the start Sunday since players must be on the list for a minimum of seven days.
The two are the top two pitching prospects in the organization and were both first round draft picks by the Phillies. Abel, who turns 21 on Thursday, has been with Jersey Shore all season and has gone 7-8 with a 4.01 ERA in 18 starts for the BlueClaws, striking out 103 hitters in 85 1/3 innings of work. In his two seasons – he was with Clearwater in 2021 – the 6’5″ right-hander has a 4.15 ERA and averages 11.7 strikeouts per nine innings.
Painter, taken with the 13th overall pick in the 2021 MLB Draft, just turned 19 this past April and has been the more dominant of the two pitchers. Also a right-hander, Painter made nine starts at Low-A Clearwater and eight with Jersey Shore this season going 4-1 with a 1.19 ERA and 118 Ks in just 75 1/3 innings of work. He made four starts in the Florida Complex League last year after being drafted and threw six scoreless innings.
Both pitchers have shown a penchant for pitching deep into games, something that the Phillies are stressing with their high prospect pitchers. The new development plan this season called for younger pitchers to pitch deep into games but start just once a week, keeping them on a schedule resembling what they worked on in college. Neither pitcher pitched at the college level, with Abel being drafted 15th overall in 2020 out of Jesuit High School in Beaverton, OR and Painter signing out of Calvary Christian High School in Fort Lauderdale, FL.
Griff McGarry, who was the Phillies fifth-round pick in 2021, was moved from Jersey Shore to Reading earlier in the year after posting a 3.86 ERA in 12 starts with the ‘Claws. With Reading, McGarry has made five starts and is 0-2 but has a 2.01 ERA. In 69 total innings this season, the righty has struck out 107 batters to give the trio a total of 328 strikeouts in 229 2/3 innings of work.
The Phillies are targeting both pitchers to throw between 90 and 100-plus innings this season, according to Scott Lauber of The Philadelphia Inquirer, who quoted the numbers from Phillies minor league pitching coordinator Travis Hergert.
What remains to be seen is whether the Phillies will bump McGarry, 23, to Triple-A this season to give him a couple of starts at the highest level of the minors. The Double-A season ends after Labor Day, but the Triple-A season goes through September.