5 pitching prospects who opened eyes in 2012

5 pitching prospects who opened eyes in 2012

With pitching being at a premium, teams are always looking for breakout prospects. Philly Baseball Insider identifies five minor league pitchers who had big seasons in 2012.

The old adage is that you can never have enough pitching. The Phillies have developed some good young pitching and some of them are now reaching the upper levels of the minor league system. While everybody was busy watching the top pitching prospects though, there were some under the radar pitchers who got the job done and more in 2012.

Tyler Cloyd - There weren't a lot of fans who knew who Tyler Cloyd was coming into the season. He was basically one of those decent pitching prospects who figured to be a back of the rotation type starter somewhere down the road for the Phillies. Well, on opening day, he made an emergency start for Triple-A Lehigh Valley rather than his scheduled start for Double-A Reading. All he did was throw six perfect innings. From there, he was back at Reading, but not for long.

At Lehigh Valley, he was dominating and was named the International League starter for the Triple-A All-Star Game in Buffalo. It wasn't long after that when fans started to clamor for him to join the big league club, but the Phillies resisted the temptation until they needed a starter for an injured Vance Worley. Cloyd made the start and has been in Philadelphia for the rest of the season.

He was shut down with a tired arm, but the Phillies don't believe it's anything that's going to hamper him coming into next season. After all, he threw 200 innings for the first time in his career.

Adam Morgan - The 22-year old left-hander reached Double-A by the end of the season after posting a 3.29 ERA for Clearwater in 21 games. At Reading, the success continued as he went 4-1 with a 3.53 ERA in six starts.

As a third-round pick in the 2011 Draft, Morgan has garnered some attention, but he's also moved pretty quickly with a lot of success. His success in 2012 was a bit surprising, since he skipped over Low-A Lakewood to start the season with the Threshers. It would have been unfair to figure he would be at Reading by the end of the season, but since he was, it sets up an interesting question; where does Morgan start the 2013 season? Triple-A Lehigh Valley or back to Double-A Reading for a little more work at that level. It's likely it will be Reading, since there is no need to rush Morgan. Don't be surprised though if he shows up at Lehigh Valley at some point during the season.

Manaure Martinez - All together now; who? A product of the Phillies Venezuelen Summer League program, Martinez was pitching in the United States for the first time in 2012. Martinez started the year in the Gulf Coast League and pitched well in seven starts - 2-3, 2.43 - and was bumped up to Williamsport for the rest of the season. He struggled with a 4.91 ERA with the CrossCutters, but the end result was an overall good season for the 20-year old right-hander.

Like with Morgan, it's going to be interesting to see where Martinez starts 2013. You could make a case for pushing him along to Lakewood, but he could also gain some benefit from sticking around in extended camp and then starting back at Williamsport. In that scenario, he would likely gain some confidence and could still be at Lakewood by the end of the season. The Phillies tend to be a little cautious with young pitchers, so odds are that he'll head back to Williamsport.

Jeremy Horst - A lot of fans weren't happy when the Phillies dealt one of their favorites, Wilson Valdez to the Cincinnati Reds. Horst was the guy that the Phillies got back in the deal and it's worked out well. Horst has been effective out of the bullpen, particularly against left-handers, holding them to a .170 average with the Phillies this season.

Horst's emergence was particularly important since Antonio Bastardo wasn't nearly as effective as he was in 2011 and the Phillies definitely needed a left-hander out of the bullpen.

At the time the Phillies acquired him, there wasn't a lot of anticipation about the newest Phillie and even now, there aren't a lot of fans clamoring for Horst. The fact is though that the Phillies now feel much better about their left-handed relief situation heading into the off-season thanks to the emergence of the 27-year old lefty.

Tyler Knigge - The Phillies drafted Knigge in the 12th round of the 2010 Draft and he didn't exactly set the world on fire in his first professional season, going 0-4, 5.28 in 11 games - four starts - with the GCL Phillies and Williamsport Crosscutters. At that point, the Phillies weren't quite sure whether Knigge would work best as a starter or reliever. In 2011, they showed some confidence in him and bumped him up to Lakewood and used him exclusively as a reliever. The result was good, but not enough to really make Knigge a strong prospect. His performance in 2012 changed that.

Starting the season with Clearwater, Knigge was lights out. He picked up nine saves in ten opportunities and notched a 0.60 ERA in 34 relief appearances, holding opponents to a .188 average. The Phillies moved him along to Reading and he pitched in 21 more games, recording two more saves at the Double-A level, while pitching to a nice 2.92 ERA.

Even though he didn't spend the entire season at Reading, it won't be surprising to see Knigge advance to Triple-A Lehigh Valley in 2012.


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