After returning from a rotator cuff injury in July, Adam Morgan pitched to a 2.67 ERA in eight Triple A starts. He allowed 37 hits and 14 walks in 30 1/3 innings during that span. (USA Today Images)
Phillies pitching prospect Adam Morgan finished the Triple A season with more shoulder issues, and they could impact Ethan Martin.
Martin, a rookie right-hander, made his seventh big-league start Tuesday night.
Martin is an intriguing prospect because of his powerful arm. His fastball can reach 95-plus mph, especially early in games. He often sees a decline in stuff in the middle innings and control can be an issue.
Some baseball observers believe Martin’s skill set makes him a good candidate for late-game bullpen work. Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. has said that Martin could work as a starter or a reliever. In fact, Martin did pitch out of the bullpen at times during his time in the Dodgers' system. He came to the Phillies in a trade for Shane Victorino last summer.
Amaro says need will determine Martin’s future role. The GM said that Martin might have come up as a reliever earlier this season if the Phils’ rotation was not thinned by injuries to Roy Halladay, John Lannan and Jonathan Pettibone. Lack of starting depth is a big reason that Martin is starting now.
As for Martin’s role next year, depth could once again determine that.
Heading into the offseason, the Phils appear to have three rotation spots filled with Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee and Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez. The rest is up in the air. Will Kyle Kendrick be tendered a contract? If he is, will he be trade bait? Will Halladay be re-signed? Will Pettibone be healthy after having been shut down last month with a sore shoulder?
The Phillies’ starting pitching depth even took a hit in the minors this season as Morgan had lingering shoulder issues.
Coming out of spring training, the 23-year-old left-hander was considered the organization’s most advanced starting pitching prospect. He was ahead of Pettibone, who eventually came up, ahead of Martin and ahead of Jesse Biddle, the darling of national publications.
Morgan came out of the chute with three strong starts at Triple A, then struggled for five starts before going on the disabled list with a partial tear in his rotator cuff. After rehabbing the injury, he made it back in late July and made eight starts the remainder of the Triple A season. Though Morgan pitched to a 2.67 ERA in those starts, he allowed 37 hits and 14 walks in 30 1/3 innings.
But the real troubling part of Morgan’s stretch drive came in his final outing Thursday night. He lasted just 1 1/3 innings before departing with shoulder discomfort.
Assistant GM Benny Looper said Morgan was scheduled to be examined by team doctors this week.
“Hopefully with rest and rehab he’ll be fine,” Looper said.
So while Martin might profile as a hard-throwing reliever, rotation depth could factor into the Phillies’ decision on what role he fills in 2014. A lot could depend on how healthy Pettibone and Morgan are.