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Jacob deGrom has made three rehab starts at Single-A for the St. Lucie Mets over the last two years. In those starts he struck out 21 batters over 7 2/3 innings, allowing three hits.

Andrew Painter did him one better last April. In his first three Single-A starts he struck out 30 over 12 innings, allowing four hits. Only 23% of the batters he faced in that stretch ever put the ball in play.

Forget Cole Hamels or Aaron Nola, Painter is perhaps the best pitching talent the Philadelphia Phillies minor leagues has ever seen. He is the future of the Phillies rotation.

It's possible that Painter is already capable of pitching in the Major Leagues. If he outshone deGrom in the minors, why can't he do it in the Majors?

For one, the Phillies want Painter to build up arm strength and stamina. At age 19, he's already 6-foot-7 and 216 lbs. That body type could be a recipe for a major injury if not treated with care.

Secondly, they want him to work on his tertiary pitches. Painter's 100 mph fastball and slider might already play in MLB, but if he can develop a deeper arsenal, the sky is the limit for the big kid from Pompano Beach, FL.

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Now up a level at High-A with the Jersey Shore BlueClaws, Painter is still dominant. In his eighth High-A start Saturday, Painter showed that he may already be adjusted for the jump to Double-A, where he'd face competition four to five years his senior.

Against the Greensboro Grasshoppers, Painter made his second consecutive start of seven innings, this time striking out nine, allowing just one walk and four hits in 93 pitches, the highest pitch count of his professional career.

Given that he's finally stretched out to a higher pitch count, and more comfortable throwing his curveball for strikes, High-A could very soon be in Painter's rearview mirror.

In 36.2 innings there he has a 0.98 ERA, a .512 opponent OPS, 1.7 BB/9 and 12.0 K/9. Painter is outpitching every other starter in his league at four years younger than the average High-A player.

Looking at his top prospect counterparts, Mick Abel and Griff McGarry, the Phillies have a wonderful problem. With Ranger Suárez and Zack Wheeler in Philadelphia for several more years apiece, and Aaron Nola through at least 2023, the Phillies may have too many starting options.

They'll likely look to extend Nola before he reaches free agency, so a six-man rotation of Wheeler, Nola, Suárez, Painter, Abel and McGarry may be in the works sooner than you'd expect.

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