When the Philadelphia Phillies drafted Andrew Painter with the thirteenth overall pick in 2021, it was hard to know what to expect, but no one expected this.
The now-19-year-old saw a major velocity jump upon joining the Phillies organization. They clearly had a plan for him from the start, because what was once a 94-96 mph fastball suddenly became a free and easy 97-99, topping out at over 100 mph.
At 6'7", it was widely thought that Painter was easily going to be able to add velocity, but to do so as quickly, efficiently, and as healthily as he did has proven quite the feat.
Painter immediately grabbed scouts attention, but many raised concerns on the righty's ability to transfer his success to an in-game scenario.
Spoiler alert, he did.
Painter tossed six innings in the Florida Complex League at the tail end of 2021, where he struck out twelve batters without allowing a single run.
That trend has continued into 2022.
On Saturday, Andrew Painter tossed five innings of scoreless baseball. He struck out fourteen of a possible fifteen batters.
Not only is the big-bodied righty yet to allow a single run in his Minor League career, he has also managed to strike out an unheard of 30 batters across just 12 innings of work this season. That means out of the total 36 outs he's been able to record, 30 of them (83%!) have come via the strikeout.
In total, across 18 professional innings, Painter has whiffed 42 batters. No matter what level you're pitching at, that is a ludicrous total.
Thus far, it seems Painter has relied primarily on his fastball and slider combination, but he also features a fascinating changeup that some scouts label as a potential plus to plus-plus pitch.
So, this success begs the question–have the Phillies ever seen numbers like this from a pitching prospect?
In fact, they have. Once.
You could argue that Sixto Sanchez' Rookie League season in which he allowed just four earned runs over 54 innings (0.50 ERA) comes close, but he only managed to strike out 44 batters that year. That's not the prospect that comes to mind.
Cole Hamels had one of the greatest Minor League careers the world of baseball had ever seen. Across 232 career innings, the legendary lefty posted a 1.55 ERA and 302 strikeouts. He catapulted through four Minor League levels in three years, debuted in 2006, and then proceeded to dominate at the Major League level well into his thirties.
Philadelphia is up to something. In the last two years, they've managed to identify and draft three premium pitching talents in Mick Abel, Andrew Painter, and 2021 fifth-round steal Griff McGarry.
Whether they will successfully develop them or not has yet to be seen, but each is certainly off to a promising start, and they've solidified themselves as one of the forefront pitching prospect trios in all of baseball.
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