Phillies

Phillies prospect Cole Irvin is an old-school lefty focused on getting outs

ap_cole_irvin_phillies.jpg
AP Images

Phillies prospect Cole Irvin is an old-school lefty focused on getting outs

Updated: Friday, 9 a.m.

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Wondering how many Phillies fans are aware of this ...

Last year, the organization could boast having the International League Pitcher of the Year.

That's pretty good stuff.

Cole Irvin is his name. He led the IL in ERA (2.57) and WHIP (1.05) while pitching 161⅓ innings for Triple A Lehigh Valley.

The left-hander will get the ball Friday when the Phillies open their Grapefruit League schedule against the Tampa Bay Rays in Port Charlotte.

Irvin, who turned 25 three weeks ago, is pumped.

“First game of the spring, that’s what is really cool about it,” he said. “I love baseball season. I think we all do. And to be the guy starting the Phillies baseball season, whether that’s spring training, it doesn’t matter to me. This is the first game of the year for us and it’s going to be fun.”

The Phillies selected Irvin in the fifth round of the 2016 draft out of the University of Oregon. He does not have to be protected on the 40-man roster until after this season but is in camp as a non-roster invite.

Despite his accomplishments last season, Irvin is not the most ballyhooed Phillies pitching prospect. You won’t find his name on Baseball America’s list of the team’s top 10 pitching prospects.

Irvin, bright and articulate, has an explanation for that.

“I’m not known as a prototypical prospect,” he said. “I’m a guy that gets outs. I don’t care how hard I throw. I don’t care about my spin rate. I care about the guy’s swing coming through the zone. I care about the guy leaning out over the plate to get the away pitch. I care about the stuff that actually matters in games. And I felt that there’s been a little bias toward some guys that can’t find the strike zone and I’m a guy that pitches in the strike zone and gets outs just the same.

“I’m not a hard thrower. I pitch at 88 to 94, 95 (mph). What’s wrong with a guy that goes out there and gets outs? That’s kind of where I stand.”

Irvin throws a deep repertoire of pitches. He relies on command. He doesn’t stress over velocity, though he can sneak a 95-mph heater up in the zone when he has to. Phillies minor-league pitching instructors love the way Irvin prepares for starts. He keeps a book on his outings — what worked, what didn’t — in his locker.

“I stick to the old-school thing about baseball,” he said. “I’m a big fan of breaking down hitters and swings. I’ve always been taught to pitch first, not throw. Everyone wants to prove they can throw hard.

“You have to understand who you are. I’m a pitcher. Get outs.”

Irvin will likely be applying his methods of pitching back at Triple A at the start of this season. On paper, the Phillies' rotation seems set with Aaron Nola, Jake Arrieta, Nick Pivetta, Zach Eflin and Vince Velasquez. Jerad Eickhoff, Ranger Suarez and Enyel De Los Santos are all on the 40-man roster if the Phils need immediate depth and it’s not out of the question the team would try to sign Dallas Keuchel.

As the saying goes, you can never have enough pitching. So it would not be surprising to see Irvin get a shot in Philadelphia sometime this season.

“We have a really good rotation,” he said. “I want to see my teammates do well. I’m excited to see what this team can do. My role right now is minuscule compared to the guys on the 40-man roster. All I can do is put myself in position to be the next man called up and be able to win that game if need be.

“In the business of baseball, the player doesn’t make the decision (when he’s called up). All you can do is focus on what you can do to get better.”

And that is what Irvin is focused on this spring.

It all starts for him Friday in the Grapefruit League lid lifter.

Here is the Phillies' lineup this afternoon as they open the spring in a non-televised game in Port Charlotte against the Rays:

1. Roman Quinn, CF
2. Scott Kingery, SS
3. Maikel Franco, 3B
4. Nick Williams, LF
5. Andrew Knapp, C
6. Shane Robinson, RF
7. Andrew Romine, 2B
8. Dylan Cozens, DH
9. Austin Listi, 1B

Cole Irvin, LHP

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Phillies

Jake Arrieta upset with Bryce Harper for ejection, sounds off on 'flat' Phillies

Jake Arrieta upset with Bryce Harper for ejection, sounds off on 'flat' Phillies

NEW YORK — Jake Arrieta slammed the shelf above his locker at Citi Field, still peeved moments after speaking with reporters.

Arrieta pitched relatively well in the Phillies' 5-1 loss to the Mets (see observations). The source of his anger was an untimely ejection of the Phillies' best player, Bryce Harper, in the top of the fourth inning, combined with an overall "flat" performance from the Phillies' offense.

The 33-year-old former Cy Young winner didn't mince words. He didn't rush to defend Harper or belabor the quick hook of home plate umpire Mark Carlson, who tossed Harper for arguing balls and strikes in the Phillies' dugout.

"He's got to understand, we need him in right field," Arrieta said. "I don't care how bad the umpire is. He wasn't great for either side. I'm out there trying to make pitches, he misses some calls. So what? We need him out there. 

"We were flat from start to finish. Two-hour delay, it doesn't matter. We have to be ready to play. We weren't and it showed.

"It's troubling. I'm out there doing everything I can to win a game. I need my guys behind me and they weren't."

Harper was upset during his own fourth-inning at-bat, which ended in a called strike three. One of the pitches to Harper was slightly out of the strike zone, up and away. Four batters later, Hernandez took a pitch high and out of the zone, even more so than the one to Harper. It was called a strike and Harper said something that was deemed by Carlson to be over the line. In a blink, and before any warning was issued, Harper was sent to the showers.

"He made a comment when he was in the batter's box and then he made a comment as he left the batter's box after he struck out," Carlson said after the game. "What he said warranted an automatic ejection."

From Carlson's perspective, Harper's comment was personal and involved foul language.

The ejection was the 12th of Harper's eight-year career, second-most among active players to Matt Kemp. "I'm usually zero to 100," he said. "If you look at all my ejections, it's usually pretty calm and then bam, once it happens, I try to let it out I guess."

Sometimes, a moment like that can galvanize a team, create some positive energy. It didn't on this night. After Harper's ejection, Hernandez singled, then the next 16 Phillies went down in order to end the game.

"Emotionally, it should have given us a boost but it didn't," Arrieta said. "We were flat. The dugout was flat. The defense wasn't good. We didn't throw the ball well as a staff overall. We got beat."

Arrieta would have preferred Harper showed more restraint.

"We need him in right field. I don't care how bad (the ump) is, I need him in right field, I need him at the plate and he wasn't there. So that hurts.

"He missed some pitches but for both sides. If that's the case, that happens on a nightly basis usually. The umpire is going to miss some calls. So what? Next pitch. We've got a game to play.

"I'm not happy with the way we showed up today. We need to come out tomorrow ready to go."

Arrieta is clearly one of the leaders on this team and he was clearly delivering a message to Harper and his teammates Monday night. The pitcher had not yet talked with Harper before speaking to reporters.

The Phillies have lost four of their last five games. At 12-10, they are tied with the Mets atop the NL East. The Phillies have played 15 of their 22 games against NL East teams and have gone 9-6.

"I said it from the start. This first month was pretty important, with all the divisional games," said Rhys Hoskins, whose 401-foot home run was the Phillies' only run. 

"I don't think anybody in here is hitting the panic button at all. We've been pretty good at bouncing back. I think all of us in here are feeling pretty confident going into tomorrow. We're fine."

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Phillies

 

Mets 5, Phillies 1: Bryce Harper ejected, Phillies' offense silenced

Mets 5, Phillies 1: Bryce Harper ejected, Phillies' offense silenced

BOX SCORE 

NEW YORK — Bryce Harper got tossed, the Phillies' offense went silent, and following a 95-minute rain delay, the Phils were defeated 5-1 Monday night by the Mets.

Harper got the hook for arguing balls and strikes in the top of the fourth inning. Cesar Hernandez took a high pitch out of the zone that was called a strike and Harper said the magic words, resulting in an ejection from home plate umpire Mark Carlson. 

It was the 12th ejection of Harper's eight-year big-league career.

The Phillies have lost four of their last five games and are 12-10. The Mets have the same record.

Huge difference a week makes

Last Tuesday, all eight Phillies Steven Matz faced reached base and came around to score. He didn't record an out.

Facing the Phillies for a second straight start Monday, Matz dealt. Over six innings, he allowed one run on three hits and struck out six, including four K's the first four times he faced Harper and Andrew McCutchen.

Can't cash in

The Phils clearly miss Jean Segura, as any team would. Losing one hitter really can make a profound impact on a lineup, especially when he has the bat-to-ball skills and .328 batting average Segura has provided. On this night, it forced Gabe Kapler to move J.T. Realmuto up to the two-hole, which weakened the five- and eight-spots with Maikel Franco also moving up.

The Phillies' best run-scoring opportunity came in the third inning when Cesar Hernandez doubled, Aaron Altherr walked and Jake Arrieta sacrificed them over to second and third. McCutchen struck out and Realmuto grounded out to end the inning.

The Phillies' only run came on a 401-foot home run from Rhys Hoskins, again on a low pitch. Hoskins demolished an 84 mph changeup to left-center field and it barely went out because of the wind. On a normal night, it might have gone 430.

Can't blame Arrieta

For the fourth consecutive start, Arrieta pitched into the seventh inning. He couldn't complete seven innings this time, being pulled after allowing a leadoff single.

Through five starts, Arrieta is 3-2 with a 2.65 ERA. He struck out seven Mets, five looking.

He kept the Phillies in the game and didn't allow much hard contact but received just the lone run of support.

Injury updates

It sounds like Segura will return Saturday when he is first eligible to be activated from the 10-day IL.

Odubel Herrera may require a few additional days.

Scott Kingery is farther away. The Phillies won't have a timetable for another few days.

All three are dealing with hamstring injuries of varying degrees.

Up next

Zach Eflin (2-2, 3.68) opposes Zack Wheeler (1-2, 6.35) at 7:10 p.m. on NBCSP+.

The Phillies will want to take advantage of missing both Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard in this series.

More on the Phillies