Lawrenceville, Georgia —— Entering play on Friday night, Philadelphia Phillies right-handed pitching prospect Ben Lively is 7-1 with a 2.27 ERA over eleven Triple-A starts for the Lehigh Valley IronPigs in 2017, with 57 strikeouts against just 10 walks over 67.1 innings pitched at the level. He has also appeared in seven big league games this year for the Philadelphia Phillies, where he’s 1-4 with a 3.80 ERA and 17 strikeouts against 13 walks in 42.2 innings pitched. I observed the 25-year-old Florida native in his July 18 Triple-A start on the road against Gwinnett; below is Baseball Census‘ full Ben Lively scouting report, including several videos.
Ben Lively Scouting Report — Video
Our video of Philadelphia Phillies right-handed pitching prospect Ben Lively shows an open-faced view of his mechanics during that July 18 start on the road against the Gwinnett Braves, where he allowed two runs on five hits and a walk, with four strikeouts, over five innings pitched:
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Ben Lively Scouting Report — Notes
On July 18, Ben Lively sat 88-91 mph with his fastball, topping out infrequently at 93 mph. The Philadelphia Phillies prospect works off the fastball with a deep repertoire that includes a curve, a changeup, and a slider. In that Tuesday start, the righty sat 79-81 mph with his changeup, and worked his curve 75-78 mph. Whether it was a scouting report thing or just feel based on that day, Lively used his curveball quite a bit against Gwinnett quite a bit while forgoing the slider. The curve is fringe-average, with hard break, and Lively has good feel for the pitch in commanding it to both sides of the plate early and late in counts. Playing off his fastball—which itself isn’t overpowering but has some arm-side life to it—gives Lively a pitch that can at least infrequently miss bats when he works ahead in the count.
Mechanically sound, Ben Lively gets good leverage and downward plane out of his 6’4″ frame, and the extension on everything he throws is ideal. He’s a pretty conventional high three-quarters right-handed starter, with clean, consistent arm action and good arm speed that’s virtually identical on everything he throws. I wish I’d seen a bit more of his changeup; with the extension he gets out front at release I have a feeling it could become a very good pitch for him, and yet against Gwinnett he went fastball-curveball quite a bit (and with success). Above all, he’s a strike thrower, and if he’s consistently down in the zone like he was on Tuesday in Georgia, his average to slightly-above-average stuff will play up thanks to command consistency and a willingness to challenge hitters at the knees.
Ben Lively Scouting Report — Projection
The 2017 season marks Ben Lively’s big league debut year, and the Philadelphia Phillies gave him seven starts in The Show between June 3 and July 5 before sending him back to Lehigh Valley. The club only won one of those seven starts—his debut—and yet Lively pitched better than the outcome in several of the losses and worked at least six innings in five of his big league outings. Ultimately, he’s a fairly conventional right-handed pitcher with average velocity, average stuff, and the ability to consistently throw strikes. That can run you any number of things depending on organization and need, from a back-end starter to a fringe up-and-down rotation candidate, or to a long man role pitching multiple innings in relief out of the bullpen.
With four pitches in his repertoire and a pretty decent debut month in Philadelphia, I think it’s likely Ben Lively continues to start for at least the time being. But long term, with other pitching prospects on the way and Lively’s pitch-to-contact stuff that struggles to miss bats, he’s likely the kind of arm ticketed for a long relief/swingman role. Consistent in throwing strikes, and reportedly top-notch in his day-to-day approach, Ben Lively is the ideal kind of guy for an irregular role of that nature and he’s should overachieve in spot starts while competing in efficient multi-inning relief stints that save the rest of his team’s bullpen.