In a recent move, the Phillies have signed former TCU Horned Frogs pitcher Charles King to a minor league contract, according to MiLB Central:
King, who most recently pitched for TCU during the 2021 season, was signed as an undrafted free agent.
During five seasons of NCAA baseball, he posted a 3.93 ERA, 186 strikeouts and 58 walks in 254 1/3 innings across 78 games. He mostly slotted in as a reliever, with only 22 of those appearances coming as starts. His 1.34 WHIP paired with averages of 10 hits per nine innings, 0.5 home runs per nine and a strike-to-walk ratio of 3.21. During his college career, opponents hit .285 against him.
After graduating from TCU, the right-hander went on to work in the San Diego Padres organization for two years as a sports science intern and then as a performance analyst.
When talking about his transition back to the mound, he told Driveline: "I started working on mechanics and started figuring out a bunch of stuff from principles that I had learned throughout the years. And then it all just kind of came together and I went and threw a bullpen and hit 96.8 mph. And I was like, 'Well, obviously this stuff works.' So I had to go play. I would be stupid not to go play."
In early December, Driveline shared a video highlighting King's fastball, during which he spoke about forcing things too much and needing to let things come to him naturally in his delivery:
Unbeknownst to King when he first started his journey back to the mound, the biggest area he needed to improve was his hip-shoulder separation. In the span of four months, he improved his range of motion, with Driveline reporting he "gained 15-20 degrees of T-spine motion in both directions."
In addition to helping the velocity of his fastball, it also reinvented his secondary pitches, including his slider.
Before signing with the Phillies, Driveline shared a video of King’s pro day bullpen from January, which showed drastic improvement:
On display were his fastball, slider, and splitter. In the video, he consistently hit 97 mph with his fastball, getting closer to 98 at times. His slider stayed in the range of 86-87, with decent movement, and his splitter bounced between 84 and 87.
After the performance, he told Driveline: "My life essentially changed in 24 hours."
The 26-year-old will be looking to make the most of the opportunity to get to the big leagues. Meanwhile, the Phillies bullpen had the seventh-best ERA (third-best in the National League) in 2023 at 3.58. With their starters taking on most of the burden, the bullpen was the least used group in all of baseball last season at 543 1/3 innings.
That being said, there's no such thing as too much pitching depth, especially during a long, grueling 162-game season that will see ups and downs with injuries and individual playing performances.
Expect to see King in the minors, continuing to work with the team's pitching staff on his mechanics as he attempts to find his way to Caleb Cotham and Philadelphia.