Phillies No. 1 prospect Andrew Painter making encouraging progress in recovery

We finally have an update on Phillies No. 1 prospect Andrew Painter's recovery from Tommy John surgery.
Philadelphia Phillies No. 1 prospect Andrew Painter
Philadelphia Phillies No. 1 prospect Andrew Painter / Brace Hemmelgarn/GettyImages

The last time the Philadelphia Phillies' top prospect threw a competitive pitch was in his spring training debut in March of 2023. After that outing, the talented young pitcher indicated that he felt some soreness after his appearance. It was determined that he had a sprained UCL in his right elbow.

Painter and the Phillies attempted a rehab program, but ultimately, it was decided last summer that the right-hander should undergo Tommy John surgery which would sideline him for all of the 2024 campaign.

Typically, the recovery time for a pitcher after reconstructive surgery is in the range of 12-18 months. Painter had the surgery almost one year ago and recently, there have been some updates on the 21-year-old's rehab progress.

Phillies No. 1 prospect Andrew Painter making encouraging progress in recovery

Tim Kelly of Phillies Nation recently provided an update on Painter's recovery. The organization's No. 1 prospect has been throwing bullpen sessions twice a week, only throwing his fastball and changeup. Manager Rob Thomson said that there is a chance that the right-hander could pitch some simulated games before the end of the season which would be a big step in his recovery process.

Thomson added that it is unlikely that Painter would pitch in any competitive minor league games before the conclusion of the 2024 season.

Despite not returning until 2025, it sounds as though Painter is recovering at an appropriate pace. The Phillies don't want to rush the young pitcher's rehab and want him ready to win a starting job in the rotation next season.

The 2025 starting rotation outlook

It's no secret that the Phillies rotation has been one of the best in Major League Baseball this season. With the potential return of Painter before Opening Day 2025, the Phillies may find themselves with a good problem to have — a possible position battle next spring.

The club has Zack Wheeler, Aaron Nola, Cristopher Sánchez and Taijuan Walker signed through next season and beyond, while Ranger Suárez is under team control for one more season. The return of Painter puts the organization in a place where they may need to find a spot for him sooner rather than later.

With Walker's struggles, he may seem like the obvious odd man out. However, the 31-year-old is owed $36 million over the 2025 and 2026 seasons. He is virtually unable to pitch out of the bullpen, so the Phillies will be in an interesting spot when formulating the 2025 rotation.

Painter could start next season at Triple-A to get reacclimated to pitching professionally, but it is almost certain that he will force the Phillies' hand to call him up. It's impossible to predict the future, but Painter's return will likely cause some big decisions to be made. Hopefully, for Painter and the club, his long-awaited debut is on the horizon.