Inside Glimpse at Philadelphia Phillies Director of Player Development Preston Mattingly’s New Look Farm System

When Preston Mattingly, 34, was hired by the Phillies last September as their new director of player development, he inherited a system with a long history of meager production.

Mattingly was brought in after president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski took the first step in rebuilding a system that was “not on the same page” in terms of teaching philosophy and methods. He let go of assistant general managers of operation Bryan Minniti and Scott Proefrock, director of player development Josh Bonifay and minor league field coordinator Chris Truby.

Frankly, it was late. The media ranked the Phillies farm system in the bottom five and Philadelphia fans could see something was wrong. The Phillies’ record of developing players in major league products was not good.

Mattingly hails from the San Diego Padres organization which was rated the best agricultural system in all of MLB in 2019. He served as their Advanced Scouting and Major League Game Planning Coordinator and as Director of scouting over five seasons.

As soon as he landed in Philadelphia, Mattingly began learning the ins and outs of the Phillies’ system through video, data study and personal communication. He also made changes to his staff, all meeting this week in Clearwater, Florida. to see Phillies prospects in action.

“I think the (system) is deeper than people realize,” Mattingly told NBC Sports Philadelphia. “I’ve had the pleasure of seeing a bunch of better guys from other teams and I think the guys in our system compare to those guys. They don’t get the recognition that the others have.”

A shining example of depth within the Phillies system is prospect Griff McGarry. The 22-year-old was Philadelphia’s fifth-round selection in the 2021 MLB Draft, and they may have found a hidden gem.

Selected out of the University of Virginia, McGarry spent 2021 with Low-A Clearwater and High-A Jersey Shore. He appeared in just eight games, pitching to a 2.96 ERA, whipping up 43 batters in 24.1 innings pitched. He’s currently ranked No. 30 on among Phillies prospects, but he’s likely to climb that list next season with a fastball that hit triple digits, a plus slider and two separate breakout balls.

Griff McGarry pitches for the University of Virginia in 2021.

Griff McGarry pitches for the University of Virginia in 2021.

Mattingly also offered Johan Rojas and Logan O’Hoppe as examples of the Phillies system that have a lot of potential. “You throw a (pitcher) McGarry and Rojas and O’Hoppe. I could see a bunch of receivers. Logan stacks with anybody. Johan Rojas, if there’s a better defensive center back in the minor leagues, I haven’t seen him.”

He pointed to the promise of former first-round picks and top-ranked prospects Mick Abel and Andrew Painter as well. “When you’re talking about the top of our prospect list, Abel and Painter, those guys are as good as anyone’s two pitchers,” Mattingly said.

He thinks the pair may be at the top of the rotation one day. They have what it takes to do it, “it’s on our people, and it’s on our organization, everything. It’s mental performance, it’s strength and conditioning, it’s medical, it’s everyone together. It’s up to us to prepare them and move in the right direction.”

Mattingly believes in Abel and Painter. He believes in McGarry, Rojas and O’Hoppe. And he firmly believes the Phillies’ system is better than they are continually ranked.

“You see the rankings and I’m here with these guys and I think these guys are better than that,” he said. “There’s a competitive aspect to it. I’m a very competitive person. So you see something and you’re ranked down – well, I want it to get to the top.”

Mattingly acknowledged how crucial he and his staff are in preparing these guys to contribute at the major league level.

“It’s a team effort,” Mattingly said. “The players, the staff, it’s a two-way street. We have to work together. It’s their career. We try to help them in any way we can.” The Phillies system seems to be in good hands with Mattingly, and hopefully by next season the rest of the league believes in them as much as he does.

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