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Catching Up With: Mick Abel

The Rapid Rise to Stardom of Phillies #2 Prospect Mick Abel
Mick Abel throwing pitching in a game for the Threshers in 2021. (Nathan Ray)
March 30, 2023

The Phillies have recently been associated with strong hitting, the power of Kyle Schwarber and Bryce Harper, the five-tool guys like JT Realmuto and now Trea Turner. However, if you take a close look at their minor league system, that narrative may soon change. All three of their top three

The Phillies have recently been associated with strong hitting, the power of Kyle Schwarber and Bryce Harper, the five-tool guys like JT Realmuto and now Trea Turner. However, if you take a close look at their minor league system, that narrative may soon change. All three of their top three prospects (all former Threshers) are pitchers, with two of those top three making MLB Pipeline’s top-100 prospects list. Those top two prospects make up two of the last three Phillies first-round picks, both drafted out of high school and quickly rising through the minor league ranks. Coming off an impressive 2022 season in his first fully healthy season as a pro, Mick Abel is looking to continue his rise through the Phillies system and show how good the future of the Phillies pitching staff can be.

Though Abel is relatively new on the pro baseball scene, the game has been a part of his life from the beginning. With his father a former college and independent league baseball player, there was always a bat and the ball around the house for him to get some practice. “As soon as I picked up a baseball, it was like ‘let’s go throw this around the house, let’s go swing the bat in the backyard’” Abel said of his childhood. “My love for the game has been there since I could walk.” From Little League to High School, Mick played various positions around the diamond, transitioning to the pitcher’s mound by the time he turned thirteen. As soon as he started focusing on pitching, it was clear there was something special brewing.

His first year of high school was really the beginning of his pitching career, and he had college offers by the end of his first season. Being from Oregon, an offer from Oregon State was too good to pass up, and Abel committed to his hometown university after his freshman year of high school. With a commitment in the bag, he still went to recruiting camps and scouted events across the country throughout the rest of his high school career. In his sophomore year, he went to an event in Arizona that was also attended by multiple MLB scouts. It was there he realized that going pro out of high school was an option. By 2020, he was the top-ranked high school pitching prospect in his class, so the Phillies selected him in the first round of the 2020 MLB draft. The high pick, and support from his family and inner circle, helped Mick’s decision to take the leap and turn pro.

Abel throws a pitch during a spring training exhibition game in 2023.Nathan Ray

Like many of the 2020 draftees, Mick experienced a tough start to his professional career, further complicated by a late-season injury in his first professional season in 2021. He was quickly noticed by scouts as one of the most promising pitchers in the Phillies system and the entire minor leagues. He spent his first professional season in Clearwater, holding opponents to a meager .174 batting average with a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 2.44. Though he put many people on notice of his rising talent, Abel wasn’t satisfied, as he knew that he could push himself to improve. “I definitely showed flashes of what I wanted to be, but overall, it was a good first taste of pro ball.” Mick has been labeled a workhorse by many scouts, continually proving himself as a guy who can eat innings while staying effective and showcasing a stellar work ethic. That continued through 2022, wherein he stayed healthy and captured the attention of many more. He rose all the way up to AA by the end of the season and was named Eastern League player of the week in just his third start for the Fightins.

Mick Abel is not the only high-level pitching prospect in the Phillies system. Philadelphia’s top-three prospects, according to MLB Pipeline, are all pitchers. Furthermore, all three were taken in 2020 (Abel) and 2021 (Andrew Painter and Griff McGarry). Painter is the top-ranked pitching prospect in the entire minor leagues, and McGarry has reached 100 mph on his fastball. All three pitchers are close friends and strong supporters of each other in their rise to the major leagues. Abel described his relationships with both Painter and McGarry as an instant spark. He met both pitchers after they were drafted, Griff as teammates on the Threshers, and Andrew at the Carpenter Complex where he began his career in the FCL during Abel’s injury rehab. Though Abel tries to stay off social media, where there is constant buzz of the trio leading the Phillies starting rotation one day, it is hard to ignore the bond between the three young stars. “Obviously we all want to be a part of the [Phillies] rotation someday and we want to keep playing together, hopefully on the same team. I wouldn’t want to face either of those guys.” They constantly push each other in training and in games, always helping each other improve.

Abel throwing a bullpen during minor league spring training in March of 2023.

All three were invited to Spring Training in 2023 for the first time, each showcasing their potential in front of Phillies fans from all over. After a solid 2022 for all three hurlers, it did not come as a surprise to anyone. But for Mick, it was just another day at work, mentioning the similarities of minor and major league camps as chances to prove himself and fight for a spot in front of the organization. It is an opportunity for him to get better and learn more about what it is to be a major leaguer and a professional pitcher. “I went in as a sponge, just trying to soak in as much as I can...The main goal was to see how my stuff plays at that level and to learn as much as I can from being around big leaguers." His stuff certainly played, as he didn’t allow a run in 3.0 innings over two games in major league spring training. But with Mick being the hard worker that he is, it was more than just the opportunity to face major league hitters, it was about learning from major league pitchers as well. He consistently went to the Phillies' Opening Day starter Aaron Nola among others, for advice. All of it is in pursuit of the same goal, to make it to the show. Mick says he is looking to improve his command this upcoming season, in addition to taking what he has learned from the spring with him as he continues to work his way through the Phillies system. His hard work and dedication have paid off so far, and there is no telling how much further he can go.