How Phillies prospect Samuel Aldegheri is turning his improbable dream into a reality

The BlueClaws pitcher shared his journey in an exclusive interview as he works toward the next step of his dream of playing in the major leagues.
Philadelphia Phillies prospect Samuel Aldegheri is working toward his dream of playing for the Phillies
Philadelphia Phillies prospect Samuel Aldegheri is working toward his dream of playing for the Phillies / Victor Decolongon/GettyImages

He's a world away from home, but Samuel Aldegheri feels right at home on the mound this season. And he knows exactly where he wants to go from here.

One of the standout performers in the Philadelphia Phillies organization this year, pitching for the High-A Jersey Shore BlueClaws, Aldegheri has come a long way since first taking up the sport as a five-year-old in his native Verona, Italy, following in the footsteps of his older brother, Mattia.

How Phillies prospect Samuel Aldegheri is turning his improbable dream into a reality

The desire to play baseball took hold early, but when did he think he had a chance to play professionally?

"It has always been my goal," Aldegheri said. "I remember telling my parents and my brother when I was a kid that I was going to play professional baseball."

His parents didn't believe him, at least at first. You can't blame them. A career as a Major League Baseball player must seem like an impossibly foreign notion from the climes of northern Italy. There have only been a handful of Italian-born MLB players. The last Italian-born pitcher to play in the majors, Marino Pieretti, retired in 1950.

Everything changed after a Kansas City Royals scout approached him at 15 — he was already throwing 86 mph — and told the kid from Verona with big dreams that he had a shot.

"And from there, I started working every day, and my parents were like, 'Oh, wow, he's doing really good,'" Aldegheri explained. "My brother started to help me even more than what he was doing. So, 15, that's when I realized, okay, I have a shot."

The Phillies signed him in 2019 as a 17-year-old. Now, a decade after starting his career with the Italian national program, the 22-year-old's goals for his professional career are clear in his mind, and the results are starting to come.

Aldegheri is dominating High-A this season

The BlueClaws' Opening Day starter, Aldegheri began this season as the Phillies’ No. 24 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline. He's now ranked No. 23, although that will undoubtedly change come the midseason update. He's already the team's No. 12 prospect by Baseball America's measure.

The left-hander has ambitions of being a starter. He wants to throw 200-plus innings and is focused on getting to the next level this season. A promotion to Double-A seems inevitable based on his performance; he's having an incredible year.

In 11 starts, Aldegheri has amassed 83 strikeouts in 59 innings. His 12.66 K/9 leads the BlueClaws pitching staff and the South Atlantic League. He also leads the league with a 2.75 ERA and a 0.97 WHIP and was recently named the SAL Pitcher of the Week.

"I feel confident to throw everything for strikes," Aldegheri said about his strikeout approach. "When it's a two-strike count, it depends. I always look at how the at-bat went. Maybe the hitter is slow on the heater or he's having problems hitting breaking balls. But usually I'm more confident to throw a slider. That's my two-strike pitch."

While he has been working to improve his slider and changeup, his fastball has seen a bump this year. After sitting 92 mph in 2023 and touching 95 mph on the radar gun, Aldegheri has reached a personal best this season, clocking the heater at 96 mph.

Aldegheri is still working to improve his game despite the success

Missing bats and logging strikeouts isn't a problem. The Italian Stallion, as his teammates call him, produced 15 whiffs and nine strikeouts on 85 pitches in his last start. However, to help him take the next step toward making his dreams a reality, his goal has been to lower his walk rate to below three for nine innings.

"Honestly, I think the last couple games, last couple months, it's getting better and better," Aldegheri said of reducing his walks. "I'm feeling better with my mechanics, feeling good throwing everything into the zone."

Whatever he's doing has worked. After walking 16 in his first six starts, he has issued just eight free passes over his last five games. That's a 2.67 BB/9. His season-long rate now sits at 3.66 BB/9.

BlueClaws pitching coach Matt Ellmyer, who first met Aldegheri in 2021, says the young pitcher has always taken pride in his work. This season, however, Ellmyer has seen something different in the BlueClaws star that has led to his success.

"Throughout this season he still shows the same pride, but has taken steps forward in understanding himself, what he needs, and taking ownership of the work he puts in," Ellmyer said. "Sam’s success is a result of the work he puts in — making sure he takes care of his body to stay on the field and attention to detail on what he needs to do to perform.

"His stuff speaks for itself, but his ability to make pitches when he needs to most is incredibly impressive."

Debuting with the Phillies would be a dream

With his childhood dream of playing in the majors getting closer each day, thoughts turn to the ultimate goal of making that elusive MLB debut — something he'd like to do with the Phillies.

"I'm just thinking about playing for the Phillies," Aldegheri said. "I signed with the Phillies because I wanted to play for the Phillies, you know. So whatever's going to happen, I just like to live in the present, but the answer is yes, I want to play for the Phillies.

"If that's not going to happen, I'm sure I'm going to find another team. I grew up with the Phillies. The player that I am right now is because of the Phillies. So it will be a dream to debut for the Phillies and play for the Phillies."

While it may be another year or two before he has a shot at a major league debut, that's not stopping Aldegheri from dreaming about it right now. Yes, he's focused on this season's goals, but he's still reaching for the stars thinking about his final destination this year.

"Who knows, maybe Triple-A. Why not the bigs?"

Everything about what he has accomplished this season, and since first picking up a ball as a youngster, indicates the sky's the limit for Samuel Aldegheri.