With the announcement that 23-year-old Adonis Medina will take the mound as the starting pitcher on Sunday afternoon, that makes 10 players who will have enjoyed their Major League Baseball debut with the Philadelphia Phillies during this crazy 2020 campaign.
Prior to Medina, the other nine making their big-league debut have been infielder Alec Bohm, outfielder Mickey Moniak, catcher Rafael Marchan, and pitchers Spencer Howard, JoJo Romero, Connor Brogdon, Mauricio Llovera, Ramon Rosso, and Garrett Cleavinger.
Bohm is now the starting third baseman, though he has shifted to first base frequently due to a season-ending injury to Rhys Hoskins. Howard had moved into the starting rotation before being lost to injury. Romero has taken over a key role out of manager Joe Girardi‘s bullpen.
Medina has been one of the Phillies top prospects for a few years now. He was ranked as their #11 prospect by Baseball America back in late July. Medina is the club’s #6 prospect according to MLB.com, which also lists Bohm and Howard as 1-2, Marchan at 8, Moniak as 13, Romero at 15, and Llovera at 17.
Listed at 6’1″ and 187 lbs, Medina is a right-hander from the Dominican Republic. The Phillies were able to sign him for just $40,000 back in May 2014 and he has developed through their farm system by one level each year since that time. He appeared in the MLB Futures Game in 2018 and was then an All-Star in the Double-A Eastern League last season.
Over six seasons in the minors, Medina accumulated a record of 31-28 with a 3.60 ERA and 1.218 WHIP. He surrendered 420 hits over 473 innings pitched across 100 games, 87 of those as a starting pitcher. Medina allowed 35 home runs while registering a 429/156 K:BB ratio.
It’s difficult to know what the Phillies can expect from him today. Medina had a rough second half to his 2019 season when he went just 2-5 with a 6.84 ERA over his final 11 starts from June 20 onwards. Opposition batters hit for a .291 average against him during that stretch. Of course, this year he has no record to track. He has been working out and throwing at the club’s alternate training site in Lehigh Valley for the last couple of months.
“He’s been up to, I think, 75 pitches and has been throwing the ball well,” Girardi said per Matt Breen of the Philadelphia Inquirer. “He’s been throwing his off-speed well, too. It’s a young man coming up to make his first start, and I think anything is possible. I think he’s talented.”
His repertoire is highlighted by a mid-90’s fastball that has a ton of sink. When he is on, Medina will induce plenty of ground balls, making him perfect for a hitter’s haven such as Citizens Bank Park. He also has an outstanding change-up, giving him the two most important assets for any starting pitcher. He also throws an often effective slider. So, what is the problem? Some scouts believe that he appears to lack confidence at times and falls in love too much with his sinker.
If the Phillies can get him to keep pumping strikes and using that fastball-changeup combo with the slider mixed in, using the sinker only sparingly, then he could become a legitimate long term rotation option to slot in behind Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler, Zach Eflin, and Howard. In fact, with Howard hurt, Medina could even emerge as a key pitcher right now over this final week and into the postseason.
Medina begins the process of trying to show the Phillies that he is ready to not only be one-shot emergency option, but that he is ready to stay. It all begins for him in Sunday afternoon’s series finale against the Toronto Blue Jays, also the Phillies 2020 season finale at home.