On a freezing cold Thursday afternoon at Whitaker Bank Ballpark in Lexington, Kentucky, the Phillies A-level affiliate Lakewood BlueClaws opened their 2016 season with a 7-4 defeat at the hands of the host Lexington Legends.
When the BlueClaws starting pitcher, Franklyn Kilome, strode out to the mound the thermostat read 37 degrees on an overcast afternoon that blotted out any chance of a warming sun. The 18mph winds blowing out of left field made the temperatures on the field feel more like it was in the low-teens.
The 20-year old Kilome was ranked by our staff here at TBOH as the Phillies’ #7 overall prospect back in February. He is a tall and lanky native of the Dominican Republic whom the club signed as a 17-year old international free agent back in January 2013.
A huge spike in the velocity of his fastball and improved command of his secondary pitches shot Kilome up all of the major scouting boards last summer, to the point now where he is considered as a Top 10 organizational prospect by evaluators across the game.
Very little of that was on display on Thursday afternoon, as Kilome appeared overwhelmed by the weather conditions. He was crushed for five earned runs on five hits including a home run in just two innings pitched. He also walked four batters while striking out just two.
Prior to the start, Lakewood skipper Shawn Williams had said that Kilome “was very impressive” during spring training. That spring performance and last season’s results had led Williams to name the youngster as his starting pitcher on Opening Day in the minor leagues.
While the weather was certainly a major factor for Kilome on Thursday, it didn’t seem to affect 22-year old fellow Dominican Jose Taveras, who followed Kilome with three shutout innings over which the 6’4″ righty struck out five and walked two. So the weather cannot be considered as the sole issue with Kilome’s performance.
Kilome is next scheduled to take the mound for the BlueClaws on Tuesday night in Hagerstown, Maryland on what is likely to prove to be another cool evening. The Phillies would love to see their young prospect gut up some mental toughness and overcome the typical northeast April chill, and begin to bring some of the heat that he showed a year ago.