PHOENIX -- Came away impressed with Jarred Cosart both on and off the field. Only had very brief encounters with him during spring training and saw one inning he pitched in a minor-league spring game, but nothing like the access and stage of Sunday's Futures Game at Chase Field.
As detailed in Monday's story in The Inquirer, the Futures Game is a chance for these 50 prospects to dream. They get to dress in big-league clubhouses and get the full treatment for one day with dozens of scouts looking on and a national TV audience watching.
All of the usual caveats are required when discussing 20- and 21-year-old pitchers because there are no certainties in this game, especially among young and electric arms. If two of the "Baby Aces" at single-A Clearwater become effective major-league starters, the Phillies will do cartwheels. Heck, if one accomplishes the feat, they will be thoroughly excited.
"I think every pitcher on the staff can pitch in the big leagues," Cosart said.
Such is the nature of young, confident pitching. It's so far, so good for the four starters at Clearwater. Cosart has already eclipsed a career-high in innings (92) and starts (16). He's capped at 130-140 innings this year, so don't be shocked if he starts throwing only five innings so the Phillies can keep him in play for the entire Florida State League season.
The strain of his ulnar collateral ligament that derailed last season has not affected Cosart. He said he is averaging around 95 m.p.h. on his fastball and has topped at 99. He is working hard on his third pitch, a change-up, while tinkering with a curveball.
"He's pitching smarter," teammate and catcher Sebastian Valle said.
He's learning what all young pitchers eventually must combat.
"You have to throw your off-speed pitches in fastball counts," Cosart said. "You can't do what you did in low-A. It's easy -- fastball and throw a curveball in the dirt and they swing on it. Hitters are more patient."
The rest of the staff's numbers are just as impressive.
Trevor May is having a breakout season with 123 strikeouts and just 71 hits in 95 innings. He's 21 years old.
Brody Colvin was hindered by a back issue early in the season and his strikeout numbers are down (43 in 62 2/3 innings). The jump to high-A has been toughest for him. But he's just 20.
Jonathan Pettibone has a 2.60 ERA by allowing 99 hits in 103 2/3 innings with 75 strikeouts and the best BB/9 ratio (1.9) of the staff. He's 20.
"Between Colvin, May, Pettibone and me, we're all low to mid 90s guys," Cosart said. "May has a good curveball. Pettibone has a better change-up. His slider is coming along. It's fun. I have fun watching the other guys.
"We expect a lot out of us and ourselves."
But with the way the Phillies handle their prospects (slowly) and the current crop of pitchers at the major-league level, all we're left with is prospecting. Sunday wasn't a bad day for that.
We'll be updating the blog all day from the Arizona Biltmore, where All-Star media day is taking place before the Home Run Derby. We'll also have the announcement of the starting pitcher for the National League, which could be Roy Halladay. (Or Jair Jurrjens.) Plus, we'll check in with Shane Victorino and Placido Polanco for some injury updates.
Have a question? Send it to Matt Gelb's Mailbag.
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