The Philadelphia Phillies have been one of the most successful teams in Major League Baseball over the last five years, but with an aging lineup, their farm system could be leaned on heavily in the coming seasons.
One of the brightest spots in the organization, Vance Worley, looks to be in line to help ease the transition as over half of the Phillies’ starting rotation is over the age of 30.
Worley, a 6-foot-2, 230 pound hurler, who throws and bats right-handed, was born September 25, 1987 in Sacramento, California.
The 23-year-old was first drafted by the Phillies straight out of Sacramento’s McClatchy High School in the 20th round of the 2005 draft. Worley didn’t sign at first but was drafted again by Philadelphia in 2008 as the 102nd overall pick (3rd round) out of Long Beach State and then joined the organization.
Despite being recalled by the Phillies three times already this year, Worley has spent more time pitching in the Lehigh Valley. Through June 18 for the IronPigs, Worley has started eight games and is 4-2 with a 2.62 ERA.
For the most part, Worley has thrown better of late and has not lost at the minor league level since April 19. In fact, Worley did not allow any runs in his first two June appearances going six innings against Charlotte on June 3 and seven innings against Durham on June 8. The right-hander gave up a total of five hits over that 13-inning scoreless stretch.
If Worley was with almost any other franchise, he would have already earned a spot in the Major League rotation, but because of a pitching rotation that contains Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels, he is still waiting his turn.
Even though the Phillies have a stacked rotation, Worley could be close to ripping the “prospect” label off of himself. Worley made his seventh appearance, and fifth start, this year for Philadelphia on Saturday and continued to make his case to join Philadelphia's rotation. Worley threw 96 pitches over five innings and was pulled due to his high pitch count, but he allowed just one run on five hits while striking out three. The outing brought Worley's earned run average down to 3.41 this season for the Phillies.
It’s tough to tell, however, if Worley can unseat Kyle Kendrick, who has been a solid fill in since Joe Blanton’s trip to the disabled list. If Worley somehow manages to replace Kendrick, there’s little chance that the Phillies would opt for anyone other than Blanton upon his return, which is currently slated for July, unless there are more injuries. Blanton is owed $8.5 million this year and it would be very hard for Philadelphia to put that money in the bullpen.
Worley has had mixed results with the big league club this year. He began the season with 11 scoreless innings, which dating back to last season, brought his total to 21 straight scoreless innings with the Phillies. Worley gave up only one earned run on six hits through his first two starts in 2011 against division rivals New York (Mets) and Washington. His next two starts were a different story.
May 24, Worley completed five innings before the Phillies brought in the bullpen after he surrendered three runs, all earned, and four walks, on six hits. Five days later, Worley only managed to make it three innings against the Mets, giving up eight runs, five of which were earned, on 12 hits.
Regardless of whether or not he is able to hang on in Philadelphia this time around, the 23-year-old is destined for a spot in the Major League rotation. Talent like Worley's is exactly what the Phillies need if they want to continue their recent dominance of the NL East as their core continues to age.