Phils challenge players with promotions

If you're heading to a minor league game featuring one of the Phillies farm clubs, you might want to grab a program. Several players were moved around on a busy day for minor league transactions. Several moves seem designed to challenge young pitchers.

In case you missed it, the Phillies dominated the minor league transactions columns early in the day today. Here's what happened:

Adam Morgan has looked like he was ready for a promotion for some time now. In 21 games - 20 starts and one "relief" appearance due to a rehabbing starter - with the Threshers this season, Morgan was just 4-10, but posted a 3.29 ERA. In the games that Morgan has lost this season, he has primarily put himself in a position to lose by posting a 5.57 ERA, so he generally can't blame lack of run support or weak defense - he's only had one unearned run scored on him this season - or anything other than himself. In the 11 games that he's either won or pitched to a no-decision, Morgan has a 1.55 ERA, including a 1.83 ERA in games where he got no decision. You can look at those numbers and see part of the problem with Morgan; inconsistency. When you look at the peripheral numbers though, Morgan has averaged 10.2 strikeouts/nine innings, while walking just two walks over the same span and opponents are hitting just .227 against him this season. The numbers look good enough to challenge him with a promotion to Double-A and he'll make his first start for the R-Phils on Thursday.

Austin Hyatt was with Lehigh Valley to start the season and was 2-0 with a 2.20 ERA after his first three starts. Hyatt opened the month of May with a good start against Charlotte, but the rest of the month went downhill and fast. In his next four starts, Hyatt went 0-4 with a 9.47 ERA and was promptly dispatched back to Double-A Reading where he has been ever since. Hyatt's struggles continued at Reading, but his last four starts have been strong, resulting in four wins and a 2.88 ERA. Ironically, his last two starts have resulted in a 5.56 ERA, but the Phillies have decided to reward him with a promotion anyway. Those last couple of starts could have been showing a little frustration on the part of Hyatt, who started to show an up-tick in his performance since late June. In any event, promoting the 26-year old makes sense, so the Phillies can get a look at how he can handle himself over the final month of the Triple-A season. The IronPigs are in need of a starter, with B.J. Rosenberg being recalled to join the Phillies bullpen.

Basically swapping out Cisco for Morillo is a little strange, but again, challenging a pitcher may be part of the plan. Morillo is already 28 and has struggled through most of the season, posting a mark of 0-2, 6.09 in 32 relief appearances with the R-Phils. Much of that damage did come early in the season and since July 1st, Morillo's ERA is a steady 3.32 over ten appearances. Prior to that, it was 8.17, so there is definite progress. The strange part of the move is bumping Cisco back down to Double-A Reading. Cisco started the season with Reading and had a 1.08 ERA in 21 games prior to being promoted to Lehigh Valley. Since joining the IronPigs, Cisco has pitched well and has a 3.00 ERA with one save in one opportunity in 11 games. Unlike Morillo though, most of the damage to Cisco has come in his past couple of games where he has a 7.94 ERA. Perhaps the move is to get Cisco to work on something specific, but the 25-year old just seemed to be hitting a bit of a tough patch and it was a quick demotion.

Finally, comes the case of Tim Kennelly. The 25-year old started the year playing third base for Reading and was moved up to Lehigh Valley in early May. Kennelly struggled offensively with the IronPigs and was sent back to Reading, where he seemed to straighten himself out and hit .298 in June. In mid-June, the R-Phils were playing a double-header and ran out of pitchers. They called on Kennelly, who had made an emergency 1/3 of an inning outing for the R-Phils in 2011. Something strange happened though when Kennelly took the mound this season. It was a fairly routine 1/3 of an inning against Akron and Kennelly walked one and struck out a hitter. Thing was that he struck out a hitter throwing 95 mile per hour heat. He pitched again in early August, giving up a hit and a wild pitch, but again throwing in the mid-90s and recording a strikeout. Pitching coach Bob Milacki and manager Dusty Wathan were impressed and reported their comments to the Phillies brass and requested that they be allowed to work with Kennelly as a pitcher. He made one more appearance for Reading, throwing a full, perfect inning and striking out two hitters. Now, the Phillies aren't fooling around and are officially converting Kennelly to being a reliever, making sense out of the move to drop him down to Clearwater for more seasoning against slightly weaker hitters. In case you're counting though, Kennelly threw 2 1/3 shutout innings, allowing a hit and a walk while striking out four with Reading this season.

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