Last season's International League Pitcher of the Year, Philadelphia Phillies southpaw prospect Cole Irvin, will make his major league debut as a starting pitcher on Sunday — Mother's Day — in the interleague road series finale opposite the Kansas City Royals. Irvin will start in place of RHP Vince Velasquez, who was placed on the injured list on Saturday with a right forearm strain.
Irvin, 25, threw at least 150 innings in each of his two full seasons of pro ball — 2017 and 2018 — after being drafted in the fifth round of the 2016 amateur draft out of the University of Oregon. Irvin went 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA and 1.22 WHIP is six starts this season with the IronPigs. In 2018, he led the Triple-A International League in ERA (2.57), while punching out 131 batters and yielding 35 walks spanning 26 appearances (25 starts) and 161 1/3 innings.
Irvin will join Ranger Suarez (July 26, August 16, and September 30 of last season) as just the second different southpaw pitcher to start for the Phillies since now-reliever Adam Morgan in September 2016. MLB Pipeline describes Irvin's pitching repertoire:
Irvin's success comes from his ability to use his four-pitch mix well to keep hitters guessing and off-balance, though his stuff largely grades out as Major League average. His fastball velocity did regress a bit in 2018, down to staying in the 90-91 mph range, showing the ability to throw his two-seamer down in the zone with sink to get ground-ball outs. His changeup, his best pitch, has improved, though, giving him one above-average offering. He mixes in two distinct breaking balls effectively.
Irvin throws all of his pitches for strikes, as evidenced by his career 2.0 BB/9 rate. His ceiling might be limited as a back-end starter, and there's not much margin for error given the nature of his stuff, but he's ready to show what he can do in the big leagues.
Irvin was slated to start for the IronPigs on Saturday; he will be promoted after the Phillies' game on Saturday, coupled with a corresponding move to the 25-man roster. The Phillies have a 40-man roster spot available for Irvin because of outfielder Aaron Altherr's designation for assignment.