FORT MYERS, Fla. — Say this for Andrew Painter: He doesn’t lack confidence.
Making his Grapefruit League debut Wednesday within the Phillies’ most extremely anticipated spring-training recreation in years, with a possibility to take the earliest of leads in a contest for a rotation spot, Painter broke out a cutter that he solely started toying with this winter. He recorded a strikeout on the pitch — towards veteran Minnesota Twins outfielder Max Kepler, no much less — within the first of two innings at Hammond Stadium.
But Painter threw largely fastballs in a 29-pitch, two-inning begin. He bought just one swing and miss, however threw 17 strikes. He allowed two hard-hit singles on back-to-back pitches within the second inning and one run on a sacrifice fly.
» READ MORE: Phillies’ Andrew Painter reminds J.T. Realmuto of one other phenom
And because the 19-year-old phenom walked off the mound, supervisor Rob Thomson waited for him on the highest step of the dugout with a handshake.
For posterity, Painter took the mound at 1:17 p.m. His first pitch to Twins leadoff man Joey Gallo clocked in at 98 mph and got here in excessive and properly out of the strike zone. He gave up the one run on three hits, together with an infield single by Twins star Carlos Correa.
Painter’s first strikeout got here on a front-foot cutter that froze Kepler. Painter blended the cutter and his slider with a fastball that topped out at 99 mph.
It was essentially the most extremely anticipated Phillies spring coaching recreation since, properly, when?
At least since March 9, 2019, when Bryce Harper performed his first recreation in Phillies crimson. But that got here just one week after he was launched in a top-of-the-dugout information convention that was, in some methods, no less than as dramatic. Maybe since March 4, 2010, when Roy Halladay made his first spring-training begin for the Phillies. But Doc was already a Cy Young Award winner by then, properly established among the many finest pitchers in baseball.
How about March 5, 2004, when 20-year-old Cole Hamels struck out Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez again to again? That made information, certain. But no one anticipated Hamels to make the staff that yr, and he didn’t. It took two extra years earlier than he made his major-league debut.
Painter is a critical candidate to fill a emptiness within the Phillies’ beginning rotation. His major competitors, lefty Bailey Falter, was spectacular final yr as a fill-in for injured Zack Wheeler. Falter will begin Thursday towards the Red Sox within the second half of a two-game highway journey to Fort Myers.
» READ MORE: The schooling of Phillies phenom Andrew Painter included exercises (and hoops) with Max Scherzer