Christian McGowan, SP
Starting pitcher Christian McGowan, the Phillies' No. 14 prospect, hasn't had an ideal Arizona Fall League experience. The seventh-round pick in the 2021 draft came to the AFL to build up his innings after returning from Tommy John surgery in late July.
McGowan only threw 25 2/3 innings over nine outings during his brief return tour. He moved from the Florida Complex League through Low- and High-A before finishing his regular season with a brief appearance in Triple-A.
The 23-year-old right-hander got off to a good start in his AFL debut on Oct. 5, earning a nod as a top performer on the day after throwing four scoreless innings. He gave up three hits, walked one and struck out two in that outing against the Desert Dogs, which the Scorpions won 3-2. He only needed 41 pitches and was all around the zone with 26 strikes.
According to MLB.com, "McGowan limited damage by keeping the ball out of the air — 10 of the 11 batted balls against him came on the ground."
Unfortunately for McGowan, he didn't fair as well in his next two starts.
On Oct. 12, he managed to get through five innings against the same Desert Dogs but gave up four runs on seven hits. The silver lining here is that all the scoring came on two-run home runs in both the first and second innings. He finished with four strikeouts, didn't issue a free pass and picked up the win as his offense powered to a 9-6 victory.
He needed 81 pitches (44 strikes) to get through his Oct. 19 start, in which he took the loss against the Surprise Saguaros. He went 4 1/3 and gave up five hits and two runs, including a home run. He had trouble locating in this one, walking three while only striking out two.
All told, McGowan currently sports a 1-1 record with a 4.05 ERA and a 1.43 WHIP in three starts. He has given up six runs on 15 hits while striking out eight and walking four through 13 1/3 innings of work.
While he certainly hasn't had the AFL we'd hoped for, it's good to keep in mind that the month-long league is typically a hitter-friendly affair, and at this point, McGowan is just working on building up his surgically repaired arm.