Tom Eshelman is not a prospect name we’ve heard very often among a sea of promising Phillies minor league prospects. But, his recent rise has put him on the map as a potential starter, finding his way into the Phillies rotation. MLB pipeline recently ranked Eshelman as the Phillies 30th-best prospect.
Tom Eshelman came to the Phillies farm system in the Ken Giles trade with the Astro during the 2015 season. He was packaged along with the likes of Vince Velasquez and Mark Appel. Nothing was really touted with Eshelman, he wasn’t a 1/1 draft pick like Appel nor was he a heat thrower like Velasquez. His acquisition was under the radar having been overshadowed by those bigger names and more major league ready candidates. Vince was seen as the best get from that trade, up until his most recent injury and game longevity issues, but as of now Eshelman is making a case for a promotion with some pretty stellar numbers.
Since being promoted to AAA, Eshelman has been a solid rock. His ERA in 12 games with the IronPigs is a spectacular 2.14 and he has 58 strikeouts in 84 IP. Not having been known as a strikeout pitcher, he has been putting up consistent SO numbers. The ERA isn’t a smoke and mirrors thing either (he is playing in front of a pretty awesome defense), his FIP in that time frame is a solid 3.26 and he’s limiting home runs with a 0.64 HR/9. And not to mention a ridiculous 0.95 WHIP. His stuff could certainly round out a future Phillies rotation for sure.
Here is an in depth look at Eshelman’s statline since he’s been up in AAA this year:
A lot can be gathered from his stats, much like I mentioned earlier. But what really stands out when looking at his game log is his starts from May 26th to June 10th he was pretty close to elite (in the minor league sense of the word). In that time frame he gave up no home runs and minimal walks. His FIP was a pristine 1.84 and his K% was 22.3%. These stats are supplemented by a AAA offense that is giving Eshelman wins and boosting his confidence.
In fact, earlier this season, he flirted with a no-hitter on May 2nd with the AA Fightin’ Phils. He took the New Hampshire Fisher Cats hitless into the 7th inning before surrendering one of the two hits the Cats got that night. That would be his last AA start, he was promoted later on that week.
The upside value of Eshelman has grown since the Phillies acquired him and his future is looking bright. He is by far the best looking pitcher in the Phillies AAA system, right now. His production is out performing his rotation mate Mark Appel, who is currently suffering from a 5.27 ERA, and he was keeping pace with Pavetta’s good performances when Pavetta was still with the IronPigs.
I admit, it’s easy to get excited about this production from Eshelman, but Phillies pitching prospects haven’t had a good track record lately of being promoted from AAA and performing well in the majors. His solid pitching may not translate effectively to the major leagues. I don’t know what it is, but there has been a breakdown by McClure and the pitching staff on the major league level where solid pitching prospects have come up and just look terrible. So, there is a fear that lingers in regards to Eshelman getting the call up to The Show.
The plot thickened a bit with Eshelman being placed on the DL recently, as a precaution. The diagnosis was a strained hip flexor, which warrants no alarm. He will miss at least one start and look to be back on track capping off a fantastic AAA season.
But the question looms; will Eshelman earn a call up later in the season? My guess would be yes, only because he has sported such good stats and that the Phillies could use a little help with the pitching. What have they got to lose? But it would not surprise me if Klentak gives him another year in the minors to prove that he isn’t a one (no)hit wonder.
Just remember the name ‘Eshelman’. You’ll be hearing it in 2018 for sure.
Photo credit: Rick Nelson