Arizona Fall League Prospect Report: Phillies RHP Shows Wicked Changeup


Image credit: (Photo by Gene Wang/Getty Images)

GLENDALE, Ariz.—Mitch Neunborn is not the biggest name in the Phillies’ system, but he’s one of a group of interesting arms the organization sent to this year’s Arizona Fall League.

The 26-year-old righthander was one of a trio of Philadelphia prospects to appear in Scottsdale’s win over Glendale on Thursday night, following hard-throwing righties Christian McGowan and Andrew Baker. Neunborn didn’t throw as hard as either of his teammates, but his nasty changeup made for an eye-opening Fall League debut.

Despite giving up the only runs his team allowed—both came on a two-run bloop single from top White Sox prospect Colson Montgomery—Neunborn earned the win and struck out three against zero walks in two innings.

Neunborn worked with three pitches—a low-90s fastball and a sharp slider in the low 80s and a high-70s changeup with a nasty, plummeting finish that stole the show.

“It’s like a Vulcan changeup,” he said, explaining why the pitch gets such tremendous action “I think it’s just the way my hands go—flexible knuckles I guess—I just rotate off the ball. I’ve been gripping it (that way) for a while, but it took a while for my fingers to get around it. I used to throw a splitty and then worked more to this.”

Neunborn signed with Philadelphia in June, after racking up eight strikeouts in 5.2 innings for Team Australia in the World Baseball Classic. One of those strikeouts came against big league veteran Tommy Edman.

After signing, the righthander, who was born in South Africa, began his minor league career with High-A Jersey Shore. There, he struck out 54 and walked just 14 in 42.2 innings. Much as was the case on Thursday evening, Nuenborn’s changeup was a weapon against High-A hitters, who whiffed against the pitch 65% of the time.

Before signing with the Phillies, Neunborn pitched in the Australian Baseball League and also made a two-inning cameo with Medford of the Great West League in 2018.

In the offseasons in Australia, Neunborn supported himself by working as a landscaper and as a caretaker for people with disabilities. Once he completes his time in the AFL, he looks forward to his first winter focused solely on baseball and building toward his first spring training with the Phillies.

Between now and then, hitters in the upper levels of the minor leagues will have time to formulate a plan to deal with Neunborn and his nasty changeup.

“I’ve tried to keep it under the radar,” he said, “but now it’s out there.”


Angels infielder Adrian Placencia gave Scottsdale its final margin of victory with a mighty blast into the Arizona night. The 20-year-old switch-hitter clubbed 10 home runs in the regular year, which he split between High-A and Double-A.

Padres prospects went bananas on Thursday in Peoria’s win over Mesa. Jakob Marsee slugged a pair of home runs out of the leadoff spot and Graham Pauley added a three-run blast in the first inning for his second longball in as many nights. The Javelinas have seven home runs in the AFL’s opening week, and Pauley and Marsee have combined for four of them.

Reds righthander Zach Maxwell struck out three hitters in two innings while allowing a pair of unearned runs. The Georgia Tech alum’s fastball sat in the high 90s and touched 100 mph.

Mariners infielder Ryan Bliss, who came to Seattle from Arizona at the trade deadline, finished the regular season with 164 hits, good for fourth in the minors. He kept on hitting on Thursday, carding a four-hit night with a run, an RBI and his second stolen base of the fall.

NEXT UP: Friday’s Projected Arizona Fall League Starters

RHP Josimar Cousin (White Sox/Glendale) vs. RHP Gabe Bierman (Marlins/Peoria)
RHP Carson Spiers (Reds/Surprise) vs. RHP Chase Chaney (Angels/Scottsdale)
RHP Jaime Melendez (Astros/Mesa) vs. RHP Case Williams (Rockies/Salt River)


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