by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
The Phillies recently promoted closer Jesen Therrien to Triple-A, after he pitched 45.2 innings at Double-A over the last two seasons. It’s clear that he had little left to prove, with the bigger question being if he can evolve into a late inning option in Philadelphia before year’s end.
Just look at what he’s done at Double-A:
Those are amazing numbers, as he has checked off all the boxes that we look for from a pitcher. While he wasn’t generating many strikeouts and he struggled with his control at the lower levels, it’s clear that something has finally clicked. This wasn’t a week or two that he was generating big strikeouts and avoiding walks, that’s almost the equivalent of a full season at Double-A with significant success.
When you couple that ratio with the ability to induce groundballs, it’s a potentially devastating combination. Obviously we have to wait and see if he can maintain the success at Triple-A, but with 7 saves in 8 chances there’s little question that the upside is there.
At the same time, the Phillies have proven that they are willing to wait on young relievers. There were calls for Hector Neris long before he was pushed into the role, but the Phillies waited for a variety of reasons (many of which were likely financial).
While the team could certainly use Thessen in the later innings, where he could form a devastating 1-2 punch with Neris, don’t look for him to be saving games any time soon. Maybe he pushes for the role at some point in 2018, but ’17 may just be too aggressive of an expectation.
Make sure to check out all of our 2017 Prospect Rankings: