Top Phillies pitching prospect making a switch to the bullpen

Griff McGarry will start the season in Triple-A, and try to get back on track pitching in a relief role.

Philadelphia Phillies prospect Griff McGarry will start the season in Triple-A, and try to get back on track pitching in a relief role.
Philadelphia Phillies prospect Griff McGarry will start the season in Triple-A, and try to get back on track pitching in a relief role. / Kevin C. Cox/GettyImages
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The Philadelphia Phillies are nearly one month into spring training, and several of the team's top prospects are making strong cases for inclusion on the major league roster. While some of these youngsters are potentially in the running for a spot with the team on Opening Day, the Phillies announced the first round of cuts on Monday.

According to the team, a trio of pitchers will not start the year in Philadelphia. Michael Mercado was optioned to Triple-A Lehigh Valley, while Tyler Phillips and Griff McGarry were both reassigned to minor league camp. McGarry is the most notable of the first round of cuts, and he will now try to figure things out against some less challenging competition — and in a different role.

According to Alex Coffey of The Philadelphia Inquirer, the plan for McGarry is to work in a bullpen role to start the season with the hope that the former No. 5 prospect in the Phillies system will get more comfortable facing advanced hitters in the upper minor leagues.

Speaking with manager Rob Thomson, McGarry understands the reasoning behind this decision, and his future role has yet to be determined. While this certainly marks another setback for a pitcher the Phillies still see a lot of promise in, McGarry will be given every chance to regain his form to begin the season.

“That’s a tough one, because if it goes very well, and we start stretching him out again, then he becomes a starter,” said Thomson per Coffey. “So, for right now, he’s going to be out of the bullpen.”

McGarry's rough spring training is the latest setback for the former top prospect

Griff McGarry's downward trend on the mound hit an alarming new low during spring training as his issues with command plagued him again. In three games, McGarry gave up four hits and three runs (all earned) in 2 2/3 innings pitched with three walks and a 10.13 ERA. His five strikeouts in those appearances are impressive, but his inability to keep opposing hitters off base is troubling.

McGarry's issues during two separate stints in Triple-A are well documented. Previously ranked the Phillies No. 5 prospect on MLB Pipeline's annual list before the 2023 season, McGarry has since been dropped to No. 11 in the rankings for 2024. While McGarry is still relatively young (he turns 25 in June), his stock has begun to plummet after failing to figure out hitters at the upper levels of the minor leagues.

Let's hope McGarry can figure things out in 2024.

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