Painter draws up six zeros in Double-A debut
It might be reasonable to question how a 19-year-old pitcher, of any pedigree, would fare at the Double-A level, but Andrew Painter is cut from a different cloth. Though instead of wiping away watercolors, this one is mopping up opposing batters. Painter, the Phillies’ top-ranked prospect and No. 25 in
It might be reasonable to question how a 19-year-old pitcher, of any pedigree, would fare at the Double-A level, but Andrew Painter is cut from a different cloth. Though instead of wiping away watercolors, this one is mopping up opposing batters.
Painter, the Phillies’ top-ranked prospect and No. 25 in baseball, proved his status at a third rung of the Minor League ladder this season alone, tossing six shutout innings with eight strikeouts in his Reading Fightin’ Phils debut on Sunday.
“I was really excited just to get my feet wet, experience Double-A and put my stuff to the test here,” Painter said after the 8-0 win over Portland. “I wanted to really accept the challenge and it went well today.”
Outside of three softly hit singles and a hit batsman, Painter’s stuff was untouchable. He consistently pumped his fastball into the upper 90s and spun his slider and curveball for called strikes and whiffs, only mixing in “about five or six” changeups because the primary offerings were too dominant.
“The goal was to establish the heater early,” Painter said. “It was mostly fastball-slider at the beginning and then we ventured off … It was a lefty-heavy lineup so we started spinning some breakers, then had the changeup working a little bit to get them off the heater.”
Shutout success for Andy Painter in his debut‼️— Reading Fightin Phils (@ReadingFightins) August 21, 2022
6 IP | 3 H | 0 ER | 0 BB | 8 SO pic.twitter.com/UHaSzk4wWJ
Across 21 starts between Single-A Clearwater, High-A Jersey Shore and Double-A Reading, Painter has a sterling 1.11 ERA with 130 strikeouts in 81 1/3 innings.
And yes, he won’t turn 20 years old until next April.
“It’s crazy to look back at how fast everything is moving,” Painter said. “But the adjustments have been great and it hasn’t been too big of a jump. After getting settled in at High-A and coming up here to Double-A, I wasn’t as nervous. It was kind of just like ‘Alright, it’s a step up but your stuff is going to play the same.’”
The 13th overall pick in the 2021 Draft was considerably younger than his peers in the Florida State League, where the average pitcher is slightly older than 22. His next stop, in the South Atlantic League, featured pitchers around the age of 23. So in the Eastern League, where most arms are approaching 25 years old, Painter is essentially a child amongst adults. Yet, his stuff can go toe to toe with anyone.
“The mental adjustment, especially once I got to High-A, was understanding the importance of getting ahead in counts,” he said. “Getting to those strikeout counts where you can expand the zone and you’re not working behind in the count and can have that hitter guessing.”
Painter’s rise, coupled with those of fellow Phillies pitching prospects Mick Abel (No. 2) and Griff McGarry (No. 4), represents one of the brightest mound corps in the game. Abel, Philadelphia’s first-rounder in 2020, was promoted to Reading alongside Painter and made his Double-A debut a day earlier, also striking out eight in six innings.
“I was so excited just to get to High-A because Mick was there,” Painter said. “Then when I got the call up here that was the first thing I was wondering: ‘It’s got to be the both of us, right?’”
It was both of them indeed. They joined McGarry, who has already made six starts for the Fightins and posted a 2.30 ERA. Given that all three are ending the 2022 season just two steps from the Major Leagues, it isn’t out of the question that any or all three could make the leap in 2023. It’s something that the group can’t help but think about.
“We’ve thought about it obviously,” Painter said. “We know it’s in the future and it’s in the picture, but we’re just trying to soak in every moment we have right now."
Jacob Resnick is a contributor for MiLB.com.