Do not overreact to the latest news on the Phillies’ top prospect, Andrew Painter.
Dave Dombrowski, Phillies President of Baseball Operations, said in an interview with Joe DeCamara and Jon Ritchie on the WIP Morning Show on Wednesday that the Phillies’ top pitching prospect, Andrew Painter, is likely not to pitch until 2025 as he recovers from Tommy John surgery.
After claiming that Painter’s rehabs has been going well, Dombrowski described, “He’s just tossing at this point, which is where he should be. I don’t really look for Andrew to pitch this year. I’m looking towards 2025. I guess you can always be surprised, but I don’t want to put that pressure on him.”
Painter, 20, began making noise in Clearwater last Spring as he wielded his 99-mph fastball against some of the best bats the Minnesota Twins had to offer on March 1st. A few days later, he began to undergo testing due to elbow tenderness, later diagnosed as a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament (UCL). The Phillies, in concert with surgeon and Sports Medicine expert Dr. Neal ElAttrache, the same doctor who performed Bryce Harper’s Tommy John Surgery, made the conservative choice of shutting down Painter in an effort to rehabilitate the UCL.
As time passed by, unfortunately, Painter’s condition did not improve. Still experiencing discomfort in the ligament in July, the Phillies and Painter made the decision to undergo Tommy John surgery on July 25, 2023, with the rehabilitation process typically taking 15 to 18 months for a pitcher. That marks the target date as late October 2024 to January 2025.
Six months later, that timeline still sounds like the plan for the Phillies’ top prospect. Nothing has changed, and there is no need to overreact.
No Need to Rush Back Andrew Painter
Despite his current injury, Painter is lauded as the 27th-best prospect in baseball per MLB.com. In 2022, his fastball was already hitting triple digits as he worked through the Phillies’ system. He has tremendous control over all four of his primary pitches (fastball, curveball, slider, changeup) and posted a 1.56 ERA from Clearwater to Reading in 2022.
While a bit of a sting comes with having to wait for such a high-grade talent to make his MLB debut, especially given he was ready to make his splash in 2023, the Phillies are doing the right thing in protecting their most valuable prospect. The 13th overall pick in the 2021 MLB Draft will turn 21 on April 10th. His career is only just beginning, and the worst thing the Phillies could do is botch his rehab by trying to speed up the process.
Perhaps Painter gets ahead of the rehabilitation schedule with some luck and patience. Even if that is the case, after not having pitched in a full season since 2022, it would do Painter some good to get time on the mound down in the Minors to reacquaint himself with in-game action.
The Phillies could use a little additional starting pitching depth before the start of the 2024 season no doubt, but they can plan ahead knowing that, in 2025, they will have a fully rested and healed Painter ready to make his pitch for the Opening Day roster. Painter stays the course as the Phillies hope to watch him paint corners out of Citizens Bank Park for years to come.
Photo Credit: (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)