More shoulder woes for Phils' prospect Morgan

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More shoulder woes for Phils' prospect Morgan

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.

Scott Kingery pops 2 homers in second game with Triple A Lehigh Valley

Scott Kingery pops 2 homers in second game with Triple A Lehigh Valley

Scott Kingery's power didn't take long to transition to Triple A.

In his second game since being promoted from Double A to the IronPigs, the Phillies' second base prospect belted two homers in Lehigh Valley's 14-5 loss to Pawtucket on Tuesday night.

Arguably the most exciting player on the Phillies' farm this season, Kingery caught everyone's attention by blasting 18 home runs in 69 games at Reading. That, along with a .313/.379/.608 batting line and 19 stolen bases, earned him a highly anticipated jump to Triple A and Coca-Cola Park, home of the IronPigs.

"It looks like you can get one out to left," Kingery said ahead of his Triple A debut on Monday. "But it looks real deep to center."

Kingery was right — both of his shots Tuesday went to left field. He finished 2 for 5 with three RBIs in the leadoff spot for Lehigh Valley, hitting in front of a loaded lineup of J.P. Crawford, Jorge Alfaro, Dylan Cozens, Nick Williams and Andrew Pullin.

The IronPigs are an International League-best 49-29 and that should only improve with Kingery now in the fold.

"I know what I'm capable of and I know what I need to improve on," Kingery said Monday. "Wherever I'm at, I'm going to come out here and try to work on whatever I think I need to improve on and to give myself the best shot to get moved up."

In his debut, Kingery made a dazzling, over-the-head diving catch that was featured on ESPN's SportsCenter (see story).

On Tuesday, he was back to the long ball.

Best of MLB: Nationals run all over Jake Arrieta, Cubs in win

Best of MLB: Nationals run all over Jake Arrieta, Cubs in win

WASHINGTON -- Max Scherzer allowed one run and two hits as the Washington Nationals knocked Chicago Cubs starter Jake Arrieta out in the fifth inning on the way to a 6-1 victory Tuesday night in a showdown of the past two NL Cy Young Award winners.

Scherzer (9-5) was dominant in his six innings of work, striking out six with no walks and retiring 16 of the final 17 batters he faced. The right-hander allowed an earned run in the first inning for the first time since April and his streak of 10-plus strikeout games ended at six, but he was in control almost all night.

Arrieta (7-6), on the other hand, struggled with his control as he issued a season-high six walks and allowed five earned runs, getting the hook two batters into the fifth inning. The 2015 Cy Young winner hadn't walked more than three batters in a game this season.

He and catcher Miguel Montero allowed seven stolen bases, matching the Montreal Expos/Nationals franchise record. Nationals shortstop Trea Turner had four of those (see full recap).

Beltre’s 9th-inning HR lifts Rangers to win
CLEVELAND -- Adrian Beltre hit his 450th career home run, a solo drive in the ninth inning off Cody Allen that sent the Texas Rangers over the Cleveland Indians 2-1 on Tuesday night.

Beltre drove the first pitch from Allen (0-4) into the left field bleachers, and moved into sole possession of 39th place on the all-time homer list.

Keone Kela (4-1) stranded a runner in the eighth. Matt Bush allowed Michael Brantley's one-out single in the ninth while getting his 10th save.

Both teams managed to get only three hits. The pitcher's duel came one night after the Indians rallied from a 9-2 deficit for a 15-9 win Monday. The Rangers hit four home runs while the Indians scored a season high in runs. A night after striking out 17 times, Texas hitters fanned 16 times in the win.

Indians manager Terry Francona missed the game after his second trip to the hospital this month. He left Monday night's game because he wasn't feeling well and spent several hours at Cleveland Clinic undergoing tests. Bench coach Brad Mills filled in for Francona, who is expected to return Wednesday (see full recap).

Healy grand slam gives Athletics victory
HOUSTON -- Ryon Healy's first career grand slam broke a tie in the sixth inning and the Oakland Athletics held on for a 6-4 victory over the Houston Astros on Tuesday night.

The score was 1-1 when Matt Joyce singled to start the sixth. Jed Lowrie singled with one out before Yonder Alonso drew a walk with two outs to load the bases and chase Mike Fiers (5-3). He was replaced by James Hoyt, who was greeted with Healy's 18th homer -- a full-count shot which landed in the second row of the seats in right field to put the Athletics up 5-1.

Sean Manaea (7-4) allowed a season-high nine hits, but just one run in 5 2/3 innings for his first win over the Astros in seven starts.

The victory is the fourth straight for the Athletics and just their second against Houston in the last 17 games (see full recap).