In 2011, the Philadelphia Phillies had no shortage of top-level pitchers in their minor leagues.
Known affectionately as the “baby aces,” the Phillies boasted three top-notch minor league pitchers and two other good arms in their Single-A ranks in 2011. Those five were Jonathan Pettibone, Julio Rodriguez, Brody Colvin, Jarred Cosart and Trevor May. The future quite simply, had been hinged on their success.
But since 2011, the baby aces have not been a success story and in fact have been much of the opposite. Only two (Pettibone and Colvin) remain within the organization, only one (Cosart) looks like a future major league talent and two (May and Rodriguez) might never make it out of the minors at all.
It is quite a sad story for the Phillies because so much was expected out of these young and talented pitchers. The Phillies boasted a top of the line rotation and it was not at one point far fetched to think of a future with the baby aces occupying most of the starting staff. In fact, it wouldn’t have been completely out of the question to say the Phillies could have had an entirely home grown rotation.
Instead, the team is left to wonder what happened?
One of the possibilities is that the tag “baby aces” was never really that accurate to begin with, or that the potential was there, but the talent never panned out.
As it turns out, Cosart, who was traded to the Houston Astros in 2012, is really the only one of the group that has shown major league staying power. He has made nine starts for the team, seven of which were considered quality starts. He debuted allowing just two hits and no runs over eight innings in his first ever start. Since then, Cosart has shown the stuff and the plus-fastball that made him one of the best prospects in the Phillies’ organization.
Of the five, only Cosart and Pettibone, who debuted with the Phillies this season, have reached the major leagues. In fact, they are also the only two that reached Triple-A.
Still struggling in the minors are Rodriguez, now with the Baltimore Orioles, May now with the Minnesota Twins and Colvin, the lone ace still within the Phillies’ system. All three have had issues with command and control and have failed to meet the high expectations the ace tag placed on them. At this point, it is quite possible none of them make it to the major leagues. And if they do, it most certainly won’t be as a future ace.
Since the trades, the Phillies do only have to worry about Colvin and Pettibone, neither who really seem to be in the plans for the future. Pettibone is starting now, but you have to wonder how much longer that will last. After all, the Phillies did sign Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez who projects to be a middle of the rotation starter in 2014 and they also have Jesse Biddle, whose stuff is electric and very effective.
So with the baby aces all failing to pan out for the Phillies, the team has to wonder where it all went wrong, These kids, all still just 23, had so much potential, so much hype and so many expectations for the future. They were groomed to fit into the rotation, they rose through the system together. They were too push one another to success.
Unfortunately, that success in large part never came. And the legend and hopes for a rotation of the baby aces will be just that. It will go down for the Phillies and their fans as just another nice fantasy, one that sadly never materialized as planned.
Marilee Gallagher is a baseball writer for RantSports.com. You can follow her on Twitter @MGallagher17 like her page on Facebook, or join her network on Google.