Phillies: Righty Connor Seabold excited to be in player pool
By Matt Rappa
Phillies right-handed prospect Connor Seabold is excited to be in the mix
Philadelphia Phillies No. 21-ranked prospect RHP Connor Seabold being named to the team’s initial player pool in late June was most likely something he never expected. So much so, he started to think about his summer plans
The 24-year-old right-handed pitcher was not among the non-roster invitees at spring training in Clearwater earlier this year. Also, the California State University alumnus, drafted by the Phillies in the third round of the 2017 draft, had never pitched above the Double-A level.
Yet, just hours before the Phillies’ deadline to submit their player pool roster for summer camp, Seabold received the call to pack his bags and get ready to come to South Philadelphia. The Orange County Register’s Richard Dunn calls Seabold the “most improbable camper” at Citizens Bank Park.
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“It’s awesome that they gave me a chance to go out there,” Seabold told Dunn. “I think I’m the only one on the roster that didn’t make the big league roster in spring training earlier this year. It’s kind of a cool thing. It’s a great opportunity and I appreciate them giving me a chance.”
In just his first full professional season, 2018, Seabold fast-tracked his way up to pitch for the Double-A Reading Fightin Phils’. He was surely set for at least a Triple-A stint in 2019, however, an oblique injury changed his plans.
The 6-foot-2, 190-pound pitcher would not make his first appearance in 2019 until late June; he would make three appearances with the GCL Phillies and two with the Clearwater Threshers, before finishing the season out back with the Fightin’ Phils. Combined in seven starts there, Seabold went 3-1 with a 2.25 ERA and 36-10 strikeout-to-walk ratio spanning 40 innings.
Seabold went on to pitch in the Arizona Fall League, where he went 1-0 with a stellar 1.06 ERA and 0.588 WHIP across four starts. Although those numbers did not earn Seabold a bid to spring training, it surely helped him to stand out among other prospects to be added to the summer camp player pool.
MLB.com writes that despite Seabold not having “eye-popping stuff,” he has managed to keep hitters off-balance and “missed a decent amount of bats, even when he got to Double-A”:
"He’s throwing a bit harder than he did in his college days, typically in the 90-93 mph range now, though he touched 94 mph in the AFL. His slider is an average offering, but he missed a lot of bats with it in the Fall. He worked to improve his changeup while he was rehabbing and it’s an above-average pitch now with excellent downer action to it.Seabold will always be a command and control pitcher, one who has to rely on changing speeds and keeping hitters off-balance. His swing-and-miss rate went up in the AFL and if that’s for real, he could fit into the back end of a big league rotation soon."
Seabold told Dunn he is “super excited” for the opportunity to debut this season. Even if he is not named to the 30-man Opening Day roster, he and the rest of the non-active players in the player pool will head to the team’s alternate training site — the Triple-A home of the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, where the prospect has yet to pitch in his professional career.
Seabold is not expected to be utilized as a starting pitcher at the site, his role so far as a Phillies prospect, however. According to Dunn, he is expected to be used as a multiple-inning relief pitcher.
Of course, things can change if the Phillies’ starting pitching depth begins to deplete, due to injury or placement on the COVID-19 Injured List, at the big-league level.
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Overall, Seabold has appeared in just 40 games (34 starts) as a Phillies minor-leaguer; combined he has gone 11-10 with a 3.52 ERA, 203-46 strikeout-to-walk ratio, and 1.063 WHIP across 196 2/3 frames. He has allowed only 163 hits in that span.
Dunn writes that Seabold has stayed in shape during the unprecedented shutdown by training and pitching off a mound near his Orange County, California, home. “That’s all these last two or three months have been, just uncertainty,” Seabold told him. “It was just a cycle of training every day, making sure your body was in shape, but at the same time, saying to yourself, ‘Is it worth it? Are we actually going to do this? Is anything going to come to fruition?’”
For at least Seabold, it in fact was worth it. He has a chance to debut in red pinstripes in what could be one of the most memorable seasons in recent Phillies history.