Hog Blog: Prospects spend week in Philadelphia

By Pat McCarthy / Lehigh Valley IronPigs | January 12, 2018 4:38 PM

Each season the Philadelphia Phillies invite their up-and-coming prospects to Philadelphia for their annual Prospect Education Program.

The seminar is in full swing this week and among the crop of players invited are present and future IronPigs. All nine players that were invited were pitchers and include, Tom Eshelman, Jose Taveras, Franklyn Kilome, JoJo Romero, Ranger Suarez, Cole Irvin, JD Hammer, Seranthony Dominguez, and Enyel De Los Santos (acquired for Freddy Galvis).

The schedule includes a wide variety of activates including talks with Phillies manager Gabe Kapler, GM Matt Klentak, former Phillie Brad Lidge, a trip to MLB Network studios where former fifth-round pick Cole Irvin took over the Phillies Snapchat to document the trip and interact with fans. The men also took a trip over to the Wells Fargo Center and caught some hoops watching Villanova take on Xavier. On Wednesday, the young arms got a chance to spend the day in the Phillies clubhouse and meet with Phillies media in a big league setting.

Eshelman, now rated the Phillies No. 22 prospect by mlb.com enjoyed a breakout season with the IronPigs and was named the Phillies Minor League Pitcher of the Year. The former second-round pick of the Astros opened the season in Double-A Reading and went 3-0 before being promoted to Lehigh Valley. In 18 starts with the Pigs Eshelman went 10-3 and posted an ERA of 2.23. Despite his instant success, Eshelman needed to make adjustments as he reached Triple A.

"The hitters are different at every level," he said. "At Triple A, they're older. They're smarter. They know what they're doing. You just have to figure out who you are as a pitcher and pitch to your strengths, not their strengths."

Taveras enjoyed rapid rise in 2017 going from Single-A to Triple-A before being added to the Phillies 40-man roster. Tavares joined the IronPigs after making 18 starts between Clearwater and Reading. With Lehigh Valley, Tavares made seven starts going 3-1 with a 1.71 ERA. He was a key component of the IronPigs dash to the postseason.

There are a couple of top-10 prospects also in attendance for the Phillies. Kilome, who was promoted to Lehigh Valley for the 2017 postseason but did not appear in a game is considered the Phillies No. 2 pitching prospect and No. 7 overall. The Phillies also brought in the newest member of their farm system, De Los Santos, who is their ninth-rated prospect and was acquired from the Padres for Freddy Galvis. De Los Santos and Kilome could both be in the IronPigs rotation next season. De Los Santos made 24 starts in Double-A last season for San Antonio racking up 10 wins. He says the organization has done a great job in making him feel welcome.

Each of the players visiting Philadelphia this week has a chance to make an impact for the Pigs this season. Irvin is the only other player who has reached the AA level after spending the first half of the season in Clearwater and being named a FSL All Star. In his first full season of pro ball the former Oregon Duck went 9-9 in 25 starts between the two levels including five wins in Reading. JoJo Romero made 23 starts between Lakewood and Clearwater and went 10-3 with a 2.23 era. Romero is the Phillies No. 16 prospect and could be in Lehigh Valley at some point during the summer.

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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