Phillies’ Mick Abel Will Pitch To His Strengths In 2023

Mick Abel had an epiphany this offseason.

The 21-year-old righthander was reflecting on his 2022 season. He thought back to one specific outing, one that embodied his greatest obstacle heading into 2023. 

Abel’s High-A Jersey Shore BlueClaws were facing Aberdeen in July. After a 1-2-3 first inning, he struggled in the second, allowing a walk and three hits. Outfielder Davis Tavarez stepped up to the plate. He worked Abel to a 3-1 count, which is when the thoughts started filtering in. 

“I haven’t walked in a run in a long time,” he thought. “I can’t allow this to happen.” 

He threw Tavarez a fastball right down the middle of the plate, which the outfielder promptly roped to center field for a line-drive double. Another run scored. It was not one of Abel’s better outings. 

But it was one that taught him a lot. Fastball command has been a focus of Abel’s for a while. Phillies farm director Preston Mattingly said it is the “next step” in Abel’s development. They have encouraged him to work on it during catch play, and in his bullpens, giving him specific targets to hit in the strike zone. 

That is all helpful, but what has been more helpful is the work Abel has done on the mental side this offseason. 

“I’ve let go of the fear of not being pinpoint accurate,” he said. “That’s just not who I am as a pitcher.  I put a lot of expectations on myself to be like that. I got so in my head that I was playing against myself.”

There is still work to be done. Abel walked nearly 11% of the batters he faced last season. But since he has stepped back on the mound this year, he has felt more confident, which for both Abel and the Phillies could be a very good thing. 

“I think his ceiling is to pitch at the top of a rotation,” Mattingly said. “He has a long way to go, but he could get there.” 


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