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Adam Morgan’s Path

Responding to my post yesterday about the Phillies’ contingency plan in case Roy Halladay is unfit or unable to contribute at any point during the 2013 season, many suggested left-hander Adam Morgan as a potential substitute. Morgan was drafted by the Phillies in the third round of the June 2011 draft and has impressed in his brief time in the system. Baseball America ranked him #5 in the Phillies’ top-ten, for example.

Morgan’s path to the Majors has a lot of hurdles, however. Tyler Cloyd, who made his Major League debut last year and whose arbitration clock has already begun, is on the short list of players who could expect a call in a pinch. Jonathan Pettibone has already had a taste of Triple-A competition and will continue with the Lehigh Valley IronPigs this year while being listed on the Phillies’ 40-man roster. Even someone like Aaron Cook, a veteran whose best days are well behind him, would likely get the nod before Morgan. Even Ethan Martin, a right-handed pitching prospect acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers in the Shane Victorino deal, is ahead of Morgan on the depth chart since he is also on the 40-man roster.

That being said, it would not be unprecedented for the Phillies to promote the 23-year-old Morgan shortly after he gets his first taste of Triple-A competition (he still start the year in Double-A). I took a look at the notable pitchers (those who appeared on BA’s Phillies top-ten prospect lists) who have been promoted by the Phillies in recent years:

Player A Years AA Years AAA Years Promotion Age Notes
Gavin Floyd 2 1 0.5 21 Sept. call-up
Brett Myers 2 1 0.5 21
Cole Hamels 1 0 0.5 22
Vance Worley 1 1.5 0 22
Kyle Kendrick 4 0.5 0 22
Randy Wolf 1 0.5 1 22
Ryan Madson 4 1 1 22 Sept. call-up
Rob Tejeda 5 1 0.5 23
Drew Carpenter 2.5 0.5 0 23
J.A. Happ 2.5 0.5 0.5 24
Tyler Cloyd 3.5 1.5 1 25

*Note: Rookie ball was counted as A-ball just for the ease of tabulation.

Morgan has 1.5 years in A-ball and a half-year in Double-A. The players who were promoted with similar or less Minor League time were Randy Wolf, Vance Worley, Cole Hamels, Brett Myers, and Gavin Floyd. Worley has been the only pitcher promoted so early in recent years, which could be due to the Phillies’ reliance on established veterans in the rotation and/or a change in organizational philosophy.

Wolf skipped Double-A for the most part, tossing only 25 innings with Reading in 1998 prior to his promotion to the Majors in 1999.

Myers spent one year at each level, from rookie ball through Triple-A.

Floyd started the 2004 season in Double-A for the first time, but was quickly promoted to Triple-A, and eventually earned a September call-up.

Hamels dominated Minor League competition when he was actually on the field. He battled injuries, including a broken hand earned from a bar fight. He tossed a meager 19 innings in Double-A and did not need to stop at Triple-A prior to his promotion to the Majors in 2006.

Though Worley was promoted to the Majors for the first time in July 2010, he was more or less a September call-up. He had begun his second season at Double-A but moved to Lehigh Valley mid-season after a very brief (one inning) stint with the big league club in July.

If Morgan impresses the Phillies enough with Double-A Reading, he could quickly earn a promotion to Lehigh Valley. With a few solid starts there, there could be a possibility he could earn a promotion during the dog days of summer if the Phillies are in desperate need of an arm. For now, though, he is around #5 on the rotation contingency depth chart.