Phillies’ Andrew Painter cracks Top 5 in Baseball America’s Prospect Rankings
Baseball America’s list of Top-100 prospects is in the process of rolling out.
And the #5 prospect in the sport, as named by them, is Phillies‘ right-handed pitching phenom: Andrew Painter.
On Painter, Baseball America had this to say:
“Painter, the top-ranked pitcher on the list, blazed a similarly scorching trail as Chourio. He overpowered the completion at three stops with a tantalizing blend of stuff, poise and command. In doing so, he joined Chad Billingsley, Forrest Whitley, Zack Greinke, Dylan Bundy and Clayton Kershaw as the only prep pitchers since 2006 to reach Double-A in their first season after the draft year.“
As they say, Painter’s rise up the ranks was meteoric last season. His video game numbers have been talked about at length, but I’m gonna talk about them just a little more!
Along the way from Single-A Clearwater to Double-A Reading, Painter posted the following nonsense:
- 26 games started and 1 complete game
- A 6-2 Win-Loss record
- 109 Innings Pitched
- A 1.48 ERA
- A 0.88 WHIP
- 13.7 Strikeouts per 9 Innings
There’s more, but I think you get the point. This 19-year-old dominated every level of professional baseball he was exposed to, and they could not find the minor leaguer who was capable of even making him look human.
It’s said that AA is often the hardest leap for pitchers–and prospects generally–to make before the jump to the majors. Well, Painter dominated in AA too. His numbers were marginally less videogame-like at that level. And by that point, he had already thrown nearly 100 innings. Something he had not done in his life up to that point.
Yeah. The kid is unreal, and I believe he will be in the rotation by the time the dust of spring training settles. You should harbor those same beliefs. This kid is a talent that you want to bet on.
What makes him so ridiculous? Here’s a good explanation from Just Baseball.
A fastball that sits 95-97 with 18 inches of induced vertical break, and has topped out at 101mph. He threw the fastball 60% of the time in the minors, and despite that, batters hit only .129 against it. And whiffed at it while it was in the strike zone 29% of the time.
Painter throws a sweeping slider that tunnels off of his fastball, and that he’s willing to use in all situations. It has late, sharp break. And right-handers — the side it breaks away from — are only hitting .119 against the pitch.
Painter’s proficiency with his curveball has only grown, and its downward break became sharper and more pronounced over the season. This is his go-to out pitch against lefty batters, but he got more and more comfortable throwing them a slider in on the hands.
All of these three pitches tunnel off of the others.
Quoting the piece directly: “Between his two breaking balls this season, Painter has held opponents to a .131/.191/.159 slash line with 58 strikeouts in 107 at-bats.”
Painter has also been developing, with early success, a changeup. Continued progress would give him a 4th pitch and 4th different speed to throw against hitters.
How the hell do you hit any of that?
What makes matters worse is: Painter has a savant’s understanding of how to sequence his pitches and set hitters up that will only become more pronounced as he ages. And his command–despite this overpowering stuff–is elite. He pounds the strike zone and rarely walks a batter.
Across 3 levels, Painter led all qualified minor leaguers in strikeout minus walk percentage (K-BB%) at 32.8%.
For a Phillies reference: imagine Jose Alvarado had the command of Aaron Nola. Painter’s ceiling really isn’t far off from that.