One of the biggest questions going into Spring Training in 2023 for the Philadelphia Phillies is if star prospect Andrew Painter will begin the season with the big league club. While Painter is just 19 years old, with every day that passes, it seems more and more likely he will open the season in MLB.
The 6’7” Painter was drafted by the Phillies with the 13th pick of the 2021 MLB Draft. He was taken out of Calvary Christian High School in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Painter has quickly skyrocketed through the Phillies minor league system.
He began by playing rookie ball in the Grapefruit League for the last two weeks of the 2021 season. In 2022, Painter started with the Clearwater Thrashers in Single-A.
In Clearwater, Painter started nine games and posted a 1.40 ERA with a ridiculous 16.1 SO9.
Following his great performance for the Thrashers, he was promoted to the Jersey Shore Blue Claws, the High-A affiliate of the Phillies. He continued to dominate for Jersey Shore. In eight starts, he had a 0.98 ERA with a 12 SO9.
In August, Painter was promoted to Double-A to play for the Reading Fightin Phils. In five starts for Reading, he had a 2.54 ERA with an 11.8 SO9.
This amazing 2022 season earned Painter a number of honors. He was named the Paul Owens Award winner for best minor league pitcher in the Phillies system. Painter was also named Baseball America’s Minor League Pitcher of the Year.
As the 2022 season closed and the 2023 season opened, MLB Pipeline released their top 100 prospects rankings for the new season. Painter is now ranked 6th in baseball and 1st among all pitchers.
With this high prowess, Painter was given a non-roster invite to Phillies Spring Training in 2023. Now the question is, will Painter begin with the Phillies in 2023?
The number five rotation spot was intentionally left open by Dave Dombrowski and the Phillies front office to allow the many young options in the system. On Thursday, manager Rob Thomson listed Painter in the long list of pitchers who could win the position. The other names include Bailey Falter, Christopher Sanchez, Nick Nelson, and Michael Plassmeyer.
Although most fans believe Painter should be placed in the 5th starting spot to begin the year, there is some risk in doing this.
To start, Painter has only thrown 109.2 innings in professional baseball. That is a very small sample size. That also puts a large risk in him attempting to pitch an entire Major League season. If Painter were to make 25-plus starts, his innings this season would likely double the amount he has thrown in his entire pro career.
A safe bet would be to make Bailey Falter the 5th starter to begin the season and work Painter in eventually. Falter showed last season he can hold down the 5th starting position and give the team quality innings.
Another option is to run a six-man rotation including both Falter and Painter. This would allow All six starters extra rest. this might be needed as Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler, and Ranger Suarez all pitched into early November.
It seems as if the Phillies veteran group is ready to see the young stud begin to contribute to the big league club. Zack Wheeler requested Painter’s locker in Clearwater be next to his or Aaron Nola’s. This was to help mentor Painter throughout the Spring. The Phillies made this happen. It is very rare for non-roster invitees to have their locker next to the veterans in Spring Training locker rooms. But, Painter is rare himself.
Andrew Painter should be on the Phillies’ opening-day roster. Whether he is the 5th man in a five-man rotation or the 6th man in a six-man rotation, Painter’s talent will instantly contribute to the success of the Phillies pitching staff. After seeing multiple foes have superstar prospects come through their system like Ronald Acuna Jr. on the Braves or Juan Soto on the Nationals, it seems like it is finally the Phillies’ time to develop the next big story in baseball.
Where Painter begins the 2023 campaign will be decided in the next month and a half in the Grapefruit League.
It’s unknown now if he will begin with the Phillies, but it’s almost certain we will see him in Red Pinstripes at some time in 2023.