The Matt Klentak era is off to an impressive start. The Phillies new general manager did something Ruben Amaro failed to accomplish during his long, lamented run: trade a player at his peak. That’s arguably what Klentak pulled off when he dealt young closer Ken Giles to the Astros.
Starting pitching is the currency of the game. Relievers are primarily enigmatic. Klentak picked up three young starters for Giles and an outfielder with a potent bat. Will they pay dividends? We’ll see.
The flame-throwing seventh round pick from the 2011 draft has netted the Phillies righthander Vincent Velasquez, southpaw Brett Oberholtzer, righthander Thomas Eshelman and outfielder Derek Fisher.
Velasquez made his big league debut last season after pitching exceptionally well in Double-A.
Velasquez, 23, who has a fastball, which sits in the mid-90s, projects as a number three . He dominated last season at Double-A and was promoted to The Show, where he, struck out 58 in 55 2/3 innings, where he posted a 4.37 ERA.
Velasquez will have a shot at a slot in the Phillies rotation or hone his skills in Triple-A, where he has yet to throw a pitch.
Oberholtzer, 26, has a good chance of earning a spot in the rotation next season. Oberholtzer doesn’t post sexy numbers. His 3.94 ERA with 5.9 K/9 and a 2.1 BB over 42 starts, is hardly spectacular but Oberholtzer is a ground ball pitcher, who is controllable as long as Giles, for five seasons.
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Fisher, 21, could have the most upside of the acquisitions. The Lebanon, PA product has plus, plus power, which has yet to fully develop along with plus speed. Fisher impressed splitting the season between Class-A and Class-A Advanced, hitting .275/.364/.483 with 22 homers and 31 stolen bases.
Eshelman, 21, is intriguing. The second round pick out of the 2015 draft class doesn’t throw hard but his precision is uncanny. As a college hurler at Cal-State Fullerton, he issued 0.44 walks per nine innings, which is beyond off the charts. Greg Maddux posted a 1.79 mark and he was the greatest control freak of the modern era. Sure, college ball and the majors are different animals but Eshelman reportedly has total control over five pitches.
“The Phillies impressed with their haul for Giles,” an AL executive said. “They didn’t get (Astros top pitching prospect Lance) McCullers (Jr.) but they got Velasquez, who has a live arm and good upside, Oberholtzer, who is a back end starter and I really like the potential Fisher has. The Astros really needed a power arm, who could get the job done at the back end of the bullpen and the Phillies made them pay.”
Klentak signed David Hernandez, 31, to a one-year $3.9 million deal. Hernandez, 31, might close for the Phillies.
The Phillies selected Tyler Goeddel with the first selection of the Rule 5 draft. Goeddel, 21, was the 44th overall pick in the 2011 draft. The speedy outfielder had a solid season in AA last year hitting .279 with 12 homers, 28 steals and a .783 OPS.