Philadelphia Phillies relief pitcher Michael Stutes is a breath of fresh air. He could also fortify a Phillies bullpen that often seems out-of-gas. For the time being though, he’s biding his time some 70-miles north of Citizen’s Bank Park playing for the Phillies Triple-A affiliate, Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs.
Lately, he seems to be one of several forgotten players who deserve another shot in the “show”. In 2004, Stutes graduated from Lake Oswego High School in Oregon. He was a student there at the same time as NBA player Kevin Love.
Stutes played quarterback on Lake Oswego’s football team and in 2004 led the baseball team to the state championship. After his high school graduation, he attended Santa Clara University and eventually transferred to Oregon State University in 2006. It was a great move toward fulfilling Stutes’ dream of playing major league baseball.
In his first season with the Beavers, he went 8-2 and led them to their first-ever national championship. He followed that up in 2007 with a 12-4 record and a second-straight national championship for OSU.
The Phillies drafted Stutes in 2008. He was an 11th round selection and finished his outstanding career at Oregon State with a record of 24-13. Having started 56 of 59 games at OSU, Stutes was intent on becoming a starter for the Phils.
He did exactly that in 2008 for Class A Lakewood and in 2009 for Double-A Reading. He met with moderate success in both places. Then in 2010, the Phillies moved him to the bullpen, a change he initially resisted. It proved, however, to be his entree to the majors.
Stutes has a lively 95-mph fastball and a curveball that gives hitters fits. He also has a resilient arm that allows him to pitch on consecutive days. His profile is that of an ideal reliever.
His 2010 numbers out of the bullpen were exceptional. Stutes went 7-1 with a 3.42 ERA and struck out 79 batters in 76.1 innings at Double-A Reading and Triple-A Lehigh Valley. The 2010 offseason was filled with great expectations for Stutes.
Spring training in 2011 further highlighted the progress Stutes was making in his role as a relief pitcher. He made appearances in seven games, pitched 11 innings and had a 0.82 ERA. Despite the great numbers, he started that year in Triple-A.
On April 25, 2011 he made his major league debut against the Arizona Diamondbacks replacing the injured Jose Contreras. It was a brief nine-pitch outing that saw him retire the side in order with one strikeout.
Stutes remained in the majors for the rest of the 2011 season. Last year was a different story as he pitched just 5.2 innings before being placed on the 15-day Disabled List with shoulder soreness. On June 26, he had arthroscopic-right-shoulder surgery thereby ending his season.
The 2013 season still finds him at Triple-A after a rocky Spring training where he went 0-1 with a 7.71 ERA through his first-four games. Stutes lost out on the last bullpen spot when the Phils chose Phillippe Aumont to fill the roster position.
He knows that he has the right stuff for the major leagues and his shoulder is reportedly fully healed. It’s only a matter of time before Stutes once again finds himself some 70-miles south at Citizen’s Bank Park.
Based on the current performance of the bullpen, his arrival is eagerly anticipated.