The Philadelphia Phillies announced that the organization is promoting two prospects from Single-A Clearwater to High-A Jersey Shore on Tuesday. Both players— one position player and one pitcher— have earned promotions with their play thus far in 2023.
Orion Kerkering— a right-handed pitcher— is one of the prospects making the move up the Phillies minor league system. Kerkering has been a dominant arm for Clearwater through the first month of the season. Opposing hitters are batting under .100 against him in 10 1/3 innings pitched in relief. He has also struck out 18 of the 35 batters that he has faced this season.
Kerkering has shown that he has a plus-fastball and a plus-slider in the minor leagues to this point. He can throw both for strikes and has only walked one batter on the season to this point. As a 22-year-old he will now face some tougher competition in the higher levels of the minor leagues. Kerkering's stuff is good enough to get batters out at most levels, as he continues to develop, look for his skills to translate into success across multiple levels of Minor League Baseball.
Caleb Ricketts— a catcher— is the other prospect making the move to Jersey Shore. Ricketts, like Kerkering, is just 22 years old. He was drafted by the Phillies in the seventh round of the 2022 draft. In 42 games at Single-A Clearwater, Ricketts has shown the ability to hit as he is batting .379 with a .954 OPS in 2023. However, he struck out at a high rate in 2022. In 81 at-bats he was retired on strikes 30 times. To begin the 2023 season, Ricketts has struck out just eleven times in 87 at-bats— cutting down his strike out rate considerably.
As of now Ricketts is looked upon more favorably for his offensive ability than his defense. According to MLB.com, Ricketts is an average defender at this point. There is still room for improvement. The Phillies will hope that his bat continues to develop enough that his defense can follow behind. He has played some outfield and first base in college, so there is always the possibility of a positional change should catching not work out.
Both players have shown drastic improvements since last season. It will be interesting to see how they continue to develop as they rise through the Phillies' farm system. Should they produce and show consistent development, it would not be surprising to see either player— Kerkering especially— receive another promotion to Double-A Reading later this summer.
More Phillies prospect news