Still a teenager until April 10, the right-hander made his Phillies debut on Wednesday, starting in a road exhibition game against the Minnesota Twins at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers, Florida.
While Painter surrendered a run on three hits and a strikeout in two innings of work, not every column of a spring training boxscore should define a performance. The former 13th overall draft pick reached as fast as 99 miles per hour on the radar gun when facing Twins shortstop Carlos Correa. The two-time All-Star told reporters after the game that he believes Painter will "be a star."
Baseball scribe Jayson Stark had similar positive thoughts on the top Phillies prospect, saying in a radio interview that he would be "shocked" if Painter did not make the club's Opening Day roster.
Considering the Phillies do not have the fifth spot in the rotation set in stone beyond Zack Wheeler, Aaron Nola, Taijuan Walker, and Ranger Suárez, the spot should be Painter's to lose. And, so far, he has done nothing to warrant him not getting the chance to make a rare Major League debut before turning 20 years of age.
After the game, Phillies manager Rob Thomson was bullish on Painter's poise and "stuff," reports the Philadelphia Inquirer's Scott Lauber. The second-year skipper also noted that Painter did not throw curveballs or changeups in his outing. And, against all eight batters faced, Painter threw a first-pitch fastball.
The sky seems the limit for Painter at this point. If he makes the 26-man roster as the fifth starter, his big-league debut would come against a potent New York Yankees lineup in the Bronx. No task seems too difficult for the right-hander, so he surely would be up for the challenge.