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June 07, 2024

Phillies prospect watch: Mick Abel struggling to find footing in Triple-A while other pitchers shine

With the Phillies continuing to roll, which of their minor-league pieces could soon be valuable -- on the field or as trade pieces?

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Mick Abel 6.5.24 Nathan Ray Seebeck/USA TODAY Sports

Former Phillies first-round pick Mick Abel has struggled at Triple-A Lehigh Valley in 2024.

While the Phillies' big-league club continues to dominate just about all competition that stands in its path, it's always worth taking a look at how its minor-league players are performing. The organization hopes that some of these players will become the next great Phillies and that some of them show enough promise for the team to be able to trade them to another organization for a veteran player who can improve their chances of winning a World Series.

• After a decent 2023 season across Double-A and Triple-A, starting pitcher Mick Abel has failed to make an impact at Triple-A this season. The Phillies' first-round draft choice in 2020 has a 6.26 ERA through nine starts and is struggling mightily with command, walking 30 batters in 41.2 innings thus far. Phillies President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski has been hesitant to deal any of the organization's top prospects since arriving in Philadelphia -- a bit of a deviation from his typical mentality -- but it is easy to wonder if Abel could become a trade piece this summer as Dombrowski looks to bolster his club's chances of winning it all. 

• With top prospect Andrew Painter still on the shelf as he recovers from Tommy John surgery, the most exciting player in the Phillies' farm system this season has been last year's first-round pick, Aidan Miller. Miller, who turns 20 years old this weekend, has obliterated Single-A pitching. Miller is currently slashing .295/.427/.515 with 14 doubles and five home runs in 35 games. The Phillies selected Miller No. 27 overall in last year's MLB Draft, and his combination of bat-to-ball skills and power give them what appears to have been a major steal. The biggest question is what position he will play: a shortstop by trade, many assumed he would quickly transition to third base. But Miller has only played shortstop thus far in 2024.

• George Klassen, a fifth-round pick by the Phillies in 2023, is absolutely carving up Single-A hitters. Klassen, 22, has a 0.26 ERA -- yes, you read that right -- in eight starts across 34.0 innings. He has struck out 51 batters and not allowed a single home run.

Remember Scott Kingery? While he is no longer a true prospect, he has had a strong 2024 at Triple-A Lehigh Valley. Kingery, who hit 13 home runs in all of 2023 for the IronPigs, already has 13 homers in 2024. He is slashing .256/.311/.542 on the year -- it is not the sort of line one would expect from a 5-foot-10, 180-pound infielder, but the Phillies will take it. Kingery has played second base and shortstop this year, but also has a good amount of experience in center field as well as past reps at third base and in the corner outfield spots. He has made himself a genuine option for the big-league club if the Phillies are hit with more injuries.

• Last winter, the Phillies acquired right-handed pitcher Michael Mercado in a trade with the Tampa Bay Rays and added him to their 40-man roster. Mercado, 25, was a second-round pick by the Rays in 2017 but has yet to reach the majors. He could be on the brink of breaking through with the Phillies, though, posting a 0.85 ERA across 31.2 innings (11 appearances, seven starts).

• Cal Stevenson, an outfielder acquired by the Phillies via waivers last year after he was designated for assignment by the San Francisco Giants, has had a strong year for Lehigh Valley. Stevenson, 27, is slashing .262/.397/.452. Stevenson was drafted in the 10th round by the Toronto Blue Jays in 2018.

• First baseman Darick Hall, who gave the Phillies a massive lift during the summer of 2022 when Bryce Harper was injured, has struggled at Triple-A so far this season, slashing .259/.319/.376. In 43 games, the left-handed hitter known for his massive power has only hit five home runs.

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