Phillies ink OF/RP Braden Zarbnisky, their 11th UDFA signing
By Matt Rappa
The Phillies have signed their 11th undrafted free-agent pitcher following last month’s shortened MLB Draft.
The Philadelphia Phillies continue to add on to their farm system, despite uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic and the 2020 Minor League Baseball season being canceled. On Wednesday, the organization inked West Virginia University alumnus outfielder and right-handed relief pitcher Braden Zarbnisky, the university’s baseball team announced.
As part of the shortened 2020 MLB Draft, teams can sign an unlimited number of undrafted free-agents for a maximum of $20,000. The Phillies have now made 11 such signings, all of whom are pitchers, in addition to coming to terms with all four of their 2020 MLB Draft picks — RHP Mick Abel, infielder Casey Martin, RHP Carson Ragsdale, and outfielder Baron Radcliff.
Zarbnisky, listed as 6-foot-2 and 191 pounds, has the extra talent of being able to hit, too. While the 23-year-old missed all of his would-be senior season due to injury in 2019, he impressed both at the plate and on the mound this year as a redshirt senior — albeit in limited action due to the shutdown.
Spanning 65 at-bats, Zarbnisky hit .431 with five extra-base hits, seven walks, and nine RBI, while scoring 16 runs. He also stole 13 bases. As a relief pitcher, across four appearances and 4 2/3 scoreless innings, he allowed just one single and three walks while striking out eight batters.
In signing the dotted line, Zarbnisky forgoed his extra year of eligibility to play a second redshirt senior season.
As a junior in 2018, Zarbnisky earned several accolades after playing several games in left field, as the designated hitter, and on the mound. Zarbnisky received All-Big 12 Honorable Mention, and was named to the John Olerud Two-Way Player of the Year Award Watch List, NCBWA Preseason All-America First Team, and NCBWA Stopper of the Year Watch List, among others.
That year, he led his collegiate team in walks (42), stolen bases (27), all the while notching 11 multi-hit games and five multi-RBI games and finishing the season with a seven-game hit streak.
On the mound, he went 2-3 with a 4.62 ERA and 35-15 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
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The Marietta, Georgia, native is the Phillies’ first undrafted free-agent signing since Harvard alumnus RHP Buddy Hayward last month. The other signings, in addition to Zarbnisky and Hayward, include:
- Right-handers Chase Antle (Coastal Carolina University), Blake Brown (UNC Asheville), Jonathan Hughes (Georgia Tech), Sam Jacobsak (Northeastern University), Noah Skirrow (Liberty University), and Billy Sullivan IV (University of Delaware)
- Left-handers Jordan Fowler (University of Central Missouri), Jake McKenna (Ocean City High School), and J.P. Woodward (Lafayette College).
With the MiLB season on hold, we likely will not get to see Zarbnisky in action, donning a Phillies uniform, for quite a while. But, given his track record, it appears as though the organization has options in regards to developing him as either a pitcher or outfielder.