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Painter, veteran bats bring the noise for Phillies

Young ace headlines All-Stars list alongside experienced sluggers
Andrew Painter maintained the second-lowest qualified ERA in the Minor Leagues (1.56) while climbing to Double-A as a teenager. (Kevin Pataky/
November 21, 2022

Each offseason, goes position by position across each organization and honors the players -- regardless of age or prospect status -- who had the best seasons in each farm system. Next up in our 2022 Organization All-Stars series are the Philadelphia Phillies.

Each offseason, goes position by position across each organization and honors the players -- regardless of age or prospect status -- who had the best seasons in each farm system. Next up in our 2022 Organization All-Stars series are the Philadelphia Phillies.

2022 Organization Summary

Triple-A Lehigh Valley: 76-72
Double-A Reading: 61-77
High-A Jersey Shore: 51-81
Single-A Clearwater: 57-71
FCL Phillies: 26-29
DSL Phillies White: 40-19 (Dominican Summer League champions)
DSL Phillies Red: 36-23
Overall record: 347-372 (.483 winning percentage, 22nd among MLB organizations)

Phillies Organization All-Stars

Catcher: Donny Sands

It was an interesting year for the 26-year-old Sands, who has had a lifetime full of them. He was limited by two stints on the injured list to just 60 MInor League games and spent most of September with the big league club but only received three at-bats. Despite the limited action, the club’s No. 21 prospect proved deserving of his first call to The Show, batting .308 with an .841 OPS in Lehigh Valley.

“[He] puts together really good at-bats, makes a ton of contact, sprays the ball around the field,” said Preston Mattingly, the Phillies first-year director of player development. “Just an overall very good, polished player.”

Sands was traded from the Yankees in a four-player deal last November after being added to the 40-man roster. New York originally drafted the Tucson, Arizona, native as a third baseman in the eighth round of the 2015 Draft, and converted him to a catcher the following season. Sands, who was added to Philadelphia’s 40-man roster last week, has worked almost exclusively behind the plate since and caught 15 runners stealing this year.

First baseman: Darick Hall

The 27-year-old rediscovered his usual, powerful form to earn his first Major League promotion and a spot on the 40-man roster. Hall crushed 28 homers at Triple-A and went deep nine times in 42 games in the big leagues. Since his professional debut on June 20, 2016, his 126 homers are the most among all Minor Leaguers.

“It was a special year for Darick, and I think we saw it very early on,” Mattingly said. “The work this kid put in the offseason really showed up this year … the power has a chance to be elite.”

Hall led the organization in homers, RBIs (88) and slugging percentage (.528) and his .857 OPS was second to only Logan O’Hoppe, who was traded to the Angels at the deadline. The 2016 14th-rounder doubled his 2021 home run total and has hit at least 20 homers in four different seasons.

Second baseman: Wendell Rijo

The 27-year-old journeyman had one of the best seasons of his career in Reading limited by a month-long stay on the injured list. But when he was healthy, Rijo was one the most consistent hitters in the Phillies’ system. He was among four players in the organization to reach double-digits in homers (12) and stolen bases (26). Rijo also doubled 24 times to finish in a tie with Hall for the third-most in the club’s system. The Phillies were his fifth different organization since signing with the Red Sox in 2013. Rijo was not added to the Major League roster and is currently a Minor League free agent.

Third baseman: Yairo Munoz

The Phillies got a lot out of their veteran depth signings this season, as Munoz made notable contributions at both Lehigh Valley and Philadelphia. The 27-year-old has seen big-league action in each of the past five seasons and was recalled and optioned three times this year as the Phillies battled injuries at the Major League level. The back-and-forth didn’t break his focus for the IronPigs, as his .310 average led all Phillies’ Minor Leaguers with at least 250 plate appearances. He also finished with the third-lowest strikeout rate (16.4 percent) among that group. Overall, Munoz had 22 extra-base hits, including six homers, and compiled a .775 OPS. The Phillies were the fourth organization for which Munoz has played since signing with the A’s in 2012, and he elected free agency last week.

Shortstop: Hao Yu Lee

After making an excellent first impression last year, the 19-year-old hit his way through the Florida State League to finish his first professional season with Jersey Shore. Lee collected 85 hits in just 79 games, including 26 extra-base hits, nine of which left the yard.

“Lee is a guy that controls the zone and puts together good at-bats. Sprays the ball around to all fields, a mature approach for his age,” Mattingly said. “The power to me is just scratching the surface. ... It's a pretty flat path. So he can spray the ball around line to line. But I think he's going to have the ability to drive the ball to the seats.”

The Phillies signed the 5-foot-10, 190-pound infielder for $570,000 last June, and he quickly made a good impression in the FCL, compiling a .364/.440/.773 slash line in 22 at-bats. Five of his eight total hits in the FCL went for extra bases. The Phils’ No. 6 prospect didn’t have the same type of success in a short stint in the South Atlantic League to finish this season. But he maintained his ability to hit for extra bases as he went 9-for-35 with three doubles, one triple and one homer. Defensively, he saw most of his playing time at shortstop, but also got significant work at second and third base.

Outfield: Dalton Guthrie

The 26-year-old has played the best ball of his professional career at the Triple-A level. Guthrie set personal-bests with a .302 average, .363 on-base percentage, .476 slugging percentage, .839 OPS, 102 hits, 10 homers, 27 doubles, 52 RBIs, 64 runs scored, 21 stolen bases and 24 walks. A free-swinger with one of the lowest walk rates in the system (6.4 percent), Guthrie also accomplished the rare feat of collecting more hits than games played. The 2017 sixth-rounder continued to swing a consistent bat as he finished the regular season with the Major League club, batting .333 with a .500 OBP in 14 games to earn a spot on the postseason roster. Defensively, Guthrie played six different positions this season, mostly staying in center and right field.

Johan Rojas

For the second consecutive season, Rojas led the Phillies system in stolen bases. But this time around, he made some history. His 62 steals were the most by a Phillies prospect since Anthony Gose swiped 76 bags in 2009. Rojas finished eighth among all Minor Leaguers in steals and was one of only three players with at least 120 hits and 60 stolen bases.

“Really good bat-to-ball skills. Makes a lot of contact. Electric on the bases and in the field,” Mattingly said. “While all that’s already very good, we think it can go to another level.”

While he was able to compile a good amount of base hits, the Phillies’ No. 5 prospect didn’t have great on-base (.309) or slugging (.354) percentages. He seemed to have made strides in those areas in the AFL, however, posting a .310/.423/.452 slash line while being successful on all 13 of his stolen base attempts. The Phillies added Rojas to the 40-man roster last week.

Carlos De La Cruz

At 6-foot-8, De La Cruz’s size and ability to make hard contact can be cause for excitement. After struggling to maintain consistency in his first two full seasons, the 23-year-old seemed to find his stroke for Jersey Shore and Reading. De La Cruz finished tied for second in the system with 17 homers while also collecting 22 doubles and driving in 47 runs. He hit for a .271 average and .815 OPS, which was an encouraging sign for a player that batted .207 with a .599 OPS in 2019 and 2021 combined. De La Cruz actually posted better numbers after his promotion to the Eastern League in June and continued to perform well at the plate with Surprise in the Arizona Fall League. He also showed off a strong arm as a corner outfielder while seeing significant time at first base.

Right-handed starting pitcher: Andrew Painter

In what was effectively his first professional season, the 2021 first-rounder had arguably the best season among all Minor League pitchers. Painter was named MLB Pipeline’s Pitcher of the Year as he dominated across three levels of the Minors, finishing at Double-A as a teenager. Overall, Painter went 6-2 with a 1.56 ERA over 22 starts, striking out 155 in 103 ⅔ innings while holding opposing batters to a .181 average.

“The numbers speak for themselves. For a young kid, just the pure command, and he was able to separate four pitches,” Mattingly said. “The command seemed to get better as he went to higher levels. And I think his ability to use his pitches, adapting and adding the changeup and use the breaking balls more, it was something we really wanted to see and he followed through.”

The No. 24 overall prospect had the second-lowest qualified ERA in the Minors, and 13.46 strikeouts per nine innings ranked seventh among qualified pitchers. Painter sported his lowest ERA (0.98) at Jersey Shore to earn a promotion to Double-A as a 19-year-old. His Eastern League ERA was inflated by a difficult start in his final outing of the season, but in total, he turned in 11 scoreless starts and allowed fewer than two earned runs in all but three starts this season.

Left-handed starting pitcher: Michael Plassmeyer

The 26-year-old proved to benefit from a change in scenery after being traded to the Phillies from the Giants for catcher Austin Wynns in June. Plassmeyer made 16 starts for Lehigh Valley after the deal, compiling a 2.41 ERA with 82 strikeouts in as many innings over 16 starts. His success in the International League was a stark contrast from his early season numbers in Sacramento, where he went 0-6 with a 7.38 ERA over his first 11 appearances of the season. Plassmeyer, who was originally drafted by Seattle in 2018, earned his first promotion to the Majors for two appearances in August and was added to the 40-man roster last week.

Reliever: Nick Duron

There were only 55 pitchers to make at least 50 appearances in the Minors this season. Among that group, the 26-year-old Duron ranked 10th with a 2.77 ERA. Originally drafted by the Red Sox in 2015, Duron signed with the Phillies as a free agent in January and made his first appearance in the Majors in July. Duron’s stint in Philadelphia lasted just two days and one outing, but he remained consistent in Lehigh Valley, finishing with 62 strikeouts in 48 ⅔ innings, collecting seven holds and converting seven of his nine save opportunities. Duron, who spent the previous two seasons in the Mariners system, elected free agency last week.

Gerard Gilberto is a reporter for