Long ago, when the Phillies were in the midst of a run of playoff-caliber baseball, they relieved heavily on their pitching. 1-0 games, 2-0 games, complete game shut outs, the bullpen planning a beach trip in mid-July–they were all comically dominant realities for this club.
Four aces, they called them. We never really came up with a solid nickname. Joe Blanton kind of ruined that.
Thanks a lot, Joe.
But then, deep within the organization, word began to spread. There weren’t just aces on the big club. This farm system, previously believed to be a punchless wasteland, was suddenly brimming with talent, and most/all of it was on the mound.
Was it true? We didn’t care. We lived our lives in such boundless ecstasy, any morsel of good news was a blast of positive energy. We turned everything around. Michael Martinez had a nickname back then, and we didn’t even like him.
The “baby aces,” we called them. Trevor May, Jonathan Pettibone, and Julio Rodriguez–the Phillies rotation of the future, as long as they all stayed on track, improved, weren’t traded and remained uninjured. And the likelihood of that was, of course, very, very, exceptionally high.
Here we are, a year later. Trevor May is the number one prospect in the Phillies system at Reading. Julio Rodriguez made a name for himself at the All-Stars Futures Game. Brody Colvin is making a home at Reading as well, and will begin making enemies next Tuesday in Pettibone’s vacated rotation spot. Jared Cosart was currency to pay for Hunter Pence. And Jonathan Pettibone is now the first to crack the Triple-A barrier.
Leading the R-Phils to a 6-1 win over the Altoona Curve, Jonathan–#4 Phillies prospect–was bumped up after a space cleared at Lehigh Valley, following Kevin Frandsen’s promotion to replace Placido Polanco. Which proves everybody is just one injury-fueled domino effect away from career success.
At 22 and with a right hand, Jonathan is joining an IronPigs squad that literally cannot wait to see him.
"“I don’t know that much about him other than the fact that he’s been pitching well at Reading, pitched a pretty good game [Wednesday], so I’m waiting to see how he does.”—IronPigs manager Ryne Sandberg"
Another draft pick. Another Californian. Another talent waiting to be cultivated.
Is “baby aces” a patronizing, impossibly presumptious title? Of course it is. Anybody who went to Reading thinking they were about to see an infant toss a no-hitter would leave furious. But we’re seeing this talent move up the system, and at a time when the future is now, it’s cool to see organically grown Phils meeting developmental expectations, both on and off the field.