Manager Gabe Kapler ruled out Medina as a candidate to join the big-league rotation when a fifth starter is required again Saturday versus the Marlins, Matt Breen of The Philadelphia Inquirer reports.
With Jerad Eickhoff's homer-prone ways resulting in him losing his rotation spot before he was moved to the injured list Monday with biceps tendinitis, the Phillies are short on appealing alternatives. Though he's regarded as the Phillies' top pitching prospect in the upper rungs of the minors, Medina apparently isn't viewed as a potential solution at the big-league level just yet. Even if his MLB debut isn't imminent, Medina could at least make the jump to Triple-A Lehigh Valley in the near future after going 6-0 with a 1.03 ERA and 0.91 WHIP over his last six starts with Double-A Reading.
Medina was optioned to Double-A Reading on Saturday, Meghan Montemurro of The Athletic reports.
The 22-year-old spent the start of spring with the big-league club but was never a candidate for a roster spot, as he's yet to pitch above High-A. He'll move up a level this season after posting a 4.12 ERA with strong peripherals (a 26.1 percent strikeout rate, 7.6 percent walk rate and 50.2 percent groundball rate) for High-A Clearwater last season.
Medina's contract was selected by the Phillies on Tuesday.
Medina hasn't made it past High-A ball in his young professional career, but the Phillies clearly see potential in the 21-year-old right-hander and have added him to the 40-man roster to shield him from the Rule 5 draft. He figures to begin the 2019 campaign at Double-A Reading.
Medina had an up-and-down season with High-A Clearwater, failing to go beyond the third inning on five occasions but allowing one run or fewer 10 times, Matt Gelb of The Athletic Philadelphia reports.
Medina's 4.12 ERA for Clearwater was over a run higher than the 3.01 ERA he recorded in 2017 for High-A Lakewood, but the underlying numbers were nearly identical. His strikeout and walk rates fell negligibly from 26.3 percent and 7.7 percent respectively to 26.1 percent and 7.6 percent, while his groundball rate rose slightly from 48.1 percent to 50.2 percent. It's encouraging to see the 21-year-old maintain his performance level as he climbs up the minors, and he'll look to do the same next season at Double-A Reading. Medina has yet to receive a mid-season promotion so far in his professional career, so his MLB debut likely won't come until 2020.
Medina tossed seven scoreless innings and struck out 12 for High-A Clearwater in its 2-1 win over Florida on Saturday. He gave up two base hits and issued no walks in the 90-pitch outing.
Believed to be one of the main prospects the Phillies made available to the Orioles in a potential Manny Machado trade, Medina ultimately remained with Philadelphia when Baltimore shipped its star shortstop to Los Angeles after the All-Star Game. Medina's outing Saturday at least demonstrated why he was a worthy centerpiece in a trade for one of baseball's top stars, as he displayed impeccable command with all three of his pitches while tying his career high in strikeouts. The 20-year-old retired the final 17 batters he faced en route to lowering his ERA to 4.48 over 78.1 innings in the Florida State League.
Medina has allowed just three earned runs in his last four starts for High-A Clearwater.
Over that same stretch, the 21-year-old righty has struck out 22 batters while walking just five. His slow start to the season means his ERA still sits at a mediocre 4.27, and his strikeout rate is a pedestrian 19.7 percent after it had spiked up to 26.3 percent with Low-A Lakewood last season.
Medina will open the season at High-A Clearwater, MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo reports.
This was fully anticipated, as Medina carved up Low-A hitters over 119.2 innings in 2017. He is the Phillies' second-best pitching prospect behind Sixto Sanchez, and has a chance to have three plus pitches and plus command. Medina should be owned in the vast majority of dynasty leagues. He could push for a promotion to Double-A this summer.
Medina credits his improved strikeout rate this season to a combination of attacking the zone more and changes he made to his slider late last season, Matt Gelb of The Philadelphia Inquirer reports.
Medina mostly threw a loopy curveball as his offspeed pitch last season when he struck out just 34 batters in 64.2 innings for short season Williamsport. He has used his slider, which is more of a slurve, this season in addition to his curveball, and Medina's struck out 97 batters in 81.1 innings at Low-A Lakewood. Pitching coach Brian Sweeney said Medina still has room for improvement with his slider, "He has a great break to it. But it's 82 [mph] max. With the arm speed he has, he could throw it at 88. Then it'll be devastating." The 20-year-old is yet another high-upside arm in the low minors of the Phillies' farm system and should be on the radar for dynasty-league owners.
Medina, 20, has a 3.13 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and 75:23 K:BB in 60.1 innings at Low-A Lakewood.
He may not have pinpoint command just yet, but Medina is striking hitters out at a 28.7 percent clip after notching just a 12.8 percent mark last year in short-season ball. Few pitching prospects have improved their dynasty league stock as much as Medina has this season. He has one of the best changeups in the lower levels of the minors and also has the potential for a plus fastball and plus breaking ball when he reaches the big leagues in two or three years.
Medina tossed seven scoreless innings for Low-A Lakewood on Friday. He allowed five hits while striking out 10 and walking just one.
Medina's strikeout rate was pedestrian in short-season ball last year, but he's made a significant improvement early this season with a 9.5 K/9 through his first three starts. His fastball sits in the 90-95 mph range, but his secondary stuff had been lacking. Improved off-speed pitches could be fueling his improved strikeout rate, which bodes well for his future.
Medina allowed just one hit while striking out four and walking one in 8.1 innings for short-season Class A Williamsport on Monday.
Medina, 19, was making his third start of the season after beginning the year in extended spring training. He was flirting with a no-hitter before giving up a hit with one out in the ninth inning Monday. Medina has yet to allow a run this season and has given up just six hits in 21 innings while striking out nine and walking six.
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