Phillies top prospect wows with big encore after jaw-dropping professional debut

It looks like the Phillies have a potential standout on their hands.
Philadelphia Phillies No. 29 prospect George Klassen had an incredible debut for the Clearwater Threshers.
Philadelphia Phillies No. 29 prospect George Klassen had an incredible debut for the Clearwater Threshers. / Al Messerschmidt/GettyImages

Making a great first impression can always go a long way toward establishing the confidence and determination to become a bonafide, elite baseball player. Philadelphia Phillies top prospect George Klassen did exactly that in his first professional baseball game with the Phillies' Low-A affiliate Clearwater Threshers.

Last week, the Phillies' 2023 sixth-round pick put together a stellar debut by allowing only one hit while striking out a whopping nine batters over five scoreless innings en route to his first-ever win as a pro. Not only was it an impressive feat, but the 22-year-old did it in dominating fashion, inducing 12 swings and misses with his high-90s fastball, mixed in with a low-90s cutter and a mid-80s curveball.

On Friday, Klassen made his second start of the season and his career and impressed yet again. He went another five innings, striking out eight more batters and gave up just two hits and a pair of walks. According to Matt Winkelman, Klassen sat 96.8 mph with his fastball and generated 15 swings and misses, nine of which came on the heater.

Klassen named potential breakout prospect pitcher by Baseball America

Despite being ranked 29th in the Phillies Top 30 prospects list according to MLB Pipeline, the right-hander was recently named one of the Top 20 breakout pitching prospects for 2024 by Geoff Pontes of Baseball America (subscription required).

Pontes believes that Klassen possesses the right pitching arsenal to profile as a big league pitcher:

"Klassen has always had the stuff to profile as a big league pitcher in some role or another, but the prospects of him having a chance to start make him a high upside pick to breakout in 2024."

The fireballer averaged around 98 mph with his fastball in 2023. The pitch has running action and frequently hit triple digits last year, according to Pipeline's scouting report.

However, Klassen needs to work on one major aspect of his game that has been his Achilles’ heel: his command and control. In his final college year, 2023, with Minnesota, he posted a gaudy walk rate of 7.5 batters per nine innings. So, if he wants to eventually find success at the major league level in minimizing baserunners, that will be one area he needs to clean up in short order.

But with zero walks in his professional debut, Klassen appears to have started 2024 on the right foot. Despite the Phillies’ farm system ranking near the bottom of the league, they may have found a hidden gem who could be a potential difference-maker down the road. If everything ends up going to plan, we could eventually see the flamethrower in a Phillies uniform sooner rather than later.