Andrew Painter was rated the best prospect at his position, up from fifth among right-handers in their last ranking.
Mick Abel was ranked ninth.
Painter is 19 and Abel is 21. Despite the age difference, Painter is closer to the majors and has a chance to win a rotation spot with a big spring training. The Phillies have four locked up for Zack Wheeler, Aaron Nola, Ranger Suarez and Taijuan Walker but are leaving the fifth starter's job open for a young pitcher. That could be Painter if he wins it, or Bailey Falter or Cristopher Sanchez if Painter shows he still needs some more seasoning.
He hasn't needed a ton of seasoning to this point. Painter was drafted by the Phillies in June 2021, just 18 months ago. He's already dominated at Single A, High A and Double A, posting a 1.56 ERA in 22 starts last season with a 0.89 WHIP. He struck out 155, walked 25 and allowed only five home runs in 103⅔ innings. The innings total was just as important a number as any other because it puts him on track to continue to build stamina, durability and experience pitching every fifth day.
A snippet from MLB.com's scouting report:
Painter has become one of the best pitching prospects in the game thanks to his combination of his size (6-foot-7), stuff and command. He has a four-pitch mix, with three of them having the potential to be plus offerings. It starts with a fastball that now touches triple digits and was averaging over 96 mph even at the end of his first full season, and he can sink a two-seamer as well as elevate a four-seamer with good spin rates up in the zone to miss bats. His slider has become his best secondary offering, a low-80s, high-spin pitch with a ton of break. He can fold in an upper-70s curve and had an above-average changeup that took a nice step forward during his ascent in 2022.
The summer before they drafted Painter 13th overall, the Phillies selected Abel 15th overall. He was rated as the top high school arm in a draft class that had its season shortened by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Abel also exceeded the 100-inning mark last season. In 23 starts (18 at High A, five at Double A), he went 8-11 with a 3.90 ERA, striking out 130 but walking 50 in 108⅓ innings.
It seems more likely that Abel opens the year at Double A or Triple A. Among the top 10 right-handed pitching prospects on MLB Pipeline's list, Abel is the only one projected to debut in the majors after 2023.