Phillies’ Andrew Painter fires 99 mph fastballs, garners reward as rotation bid begins

FORT MYERS, Fla. — When one of many most-anticipated Phillies spring debuts was over, Garrett Stubbs admitted one thing. “I probably babied him a little bit more than he needed out there,” the catcher stated. It’s pure. This is March 1 and his pitcher is nineteen years outdated, and this entire factor requires you to droop perception as a result of these are usually not issues you’re alleged to see on March 1 from a 19-year-old pitcher.

“Yeah,” Carlos Correa stated, “I believe this kid’s going to be a star.”

Andrew Painter threw 29 pitches Wednesday afternoon in a Grapefruit League recreation. He allowed one run on three hits in two innings. He fired a bunch of fastballs — two of which have been 99 mph towards Correa, a star on this league. Minnesota’s hitters swung-and-missed at two of Painter’s pitches. It was not the storybook, eye-popping debut.

But he appeared like he belonged on March 1 as a 19-year-old pitcher.

“He’s mature beyond his years,” Correa stated. “Pounded the zone, not afraid of anyone, just going out there and throwing strikes. Very special.”

This entire plan — opening the door and nudging Painter right into a professional probability to throw a pitch within the majors as an adolescent — generates a sure pleasure. But one of many causes the Phillies are keen to push Painter into the unknown is as a result of he has a powerful understanding of his physique. He is not going to overdo it as a result of he’s dealing with Carlos Correa in a Grapefruit League recreation on the primary day of March.

But the Phillies nonetheless put in guardrails. Painter threw a first-pitch fastball to all eight hitters he confronted. “There’s some work we have to do there,” Phillies supervisor Rob Thomson stated, “and mix a little better earlier in the count.” Painter by no means threw a curveball or a changeup. He didn’t sequence his pitches like he may in an actual recreation.

Scott Kingery, who performed second base Wednesday, approached Painter within the dugout after his two-inning begin. “Man,” Kingery informed him, “that’s really good.”

“I appreciate it,” Painter stated.

In Kingery’s eyes, Painter did every thing he was alleged to do. “For a first start,” Kingery stated, “that’s all you can ask for right there.” He pounded the zone. He didn’t look overwhelmed. He in all probability had an additional gear he resisted going to as a result of it was March 1. The fastball nonetheless averaged 97 mph.

“It’s just electric,” Kingery stated. “It jumps out of his hand. I didn’t even know he had a cutter.”

Painter didn’t till a month in the past. The Phillies requested him to mess around with one throughout his winter exercises. They wished one thing that had fastball motion with late life. It protects his four-seam fastball and the slider as a result of it slots between these two in each velocity and motion.

“Just to get something that’s harder,” Painter stated. “The slider’s kinda sweepy, so just looking for something else that looks like a fastball.”

Stubbs’ favourite pitch was a cutter, down and in, that fooled Max Kepler. He couldn’t test his swing and struck out. When Painter and Stubbs returned to the dugout, Painter was pleased.

“That was a pretty good pitch, huh?” he stated to Stubbs.

“I think he was looking for a little bit of affirmation,” Stubbs stated later. “Obviously, I don’t think he really needed it after watching the result. But, yeah, that was a really good pitch.”

It was a pitch Painter had by no means thrown in a recreation earlier than and it was efficient towards Kepler, an eight-year veteran.

“It was out of the zone,” Painter stated, “but that shows it’s pretty deceptive — that it’s playing well off the heater and looked like a heater coming out of the hand.”

There are causes to forged doubt on the entire notion of Painter breaking camp with the Phillies. They don’t must do it, however membership officers don’t view that as a compelling sufficient purpose for Painter to start out the season within the minors. If they see sufficient, he’ll be within the rotation. There are considerations inside the group about how fastball-reliant Painter was when he soared by the minors final season; it’s why growing the cutter was a precedence. Sometimes, Painter’s slider and curveball blurred collectively final season. That occurred on the final pitch he threw Wednesday, a crazy slider that appeared like a curveball. Michael A. Taylor pounded it into the bottom for a routine out.

Painter’s mother and father have been within the Hammond Stadium grandstand to observe. It’s solely a two-hour drive throughout the state from their residence in Pompano Beach, Fla. There have been two digicam crews following {the teenager}’s each transfer. He confronted a bunch of Twins regulars — one of the best hitters he’s ever seen in a recreation.

“I kind of just went out with the same mentality,” Painter stated. “I’ve played on this field before so it felt kind of like when I was in Low A and that was kind of the mindset, just going out with tunnel vision, trying to do what I always do.”

Correa, who had met with the Phillies this previous offseason when he was a free agent, stated he did analysis on varied farm programs. “Because I didn’t want to go to a team where I was going to just lose and never make the playoffs ever again,” Correa stated. “I knew who he was.” They share an agent, Scott Boras, who informed Correa to take it straightforward on Painter.

“He’s got electric stuff,” Correa stated. “He’s going to be in the big leagues pretty soon, and that’s exciting at a young age with all that potential. He’s got a great mound presence.”

Correa bounced a cutter to the deep shortstop gap and reached on an infield single. Darick Hall, the Phillies’ first baseman, began a dialog with Correa.

“Do you know what I was doing at 19?” Hall stated to him. “Running morning runs at junior college trying to make a college team. That dude is on the cusp of being in the big leagues. It’s really impressive.”

The query, this spring, is whether or not it is sufficient to persuade the Phillies to undergo with this uncommon plan.

“Is that how old he is, 19?” Twins supervisor Rocco Baldelli stated. “He’s what you’re hoping to get when you take a young, strong guy with a good arm that can spin it. You look for all the different things from young pitchers — that’s probably what you’re hoping to get when they put the Phillies uniform on in spring training. They’ve got a good-looking young arm right there, that’s for sure.”

At 1:40 p.m. ET, Painter lined his face together with his glove and muttered one thing. “I would’ve liked to have been in the zone a little more,” he later stated. Thomson reached out his proper hand. Painter shook it.

This wondrous journey has begun.

The Athletic’s Aaron Gleeman contributed to this report.

(Top photograph: Brynn Anderson / Associated Press)

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