Even for blue-chip prospects who are showered with praise from Little League on, it can be a long and perilous road to The Show. Imagine then, the time and sweat it takes for a fifth-round pick out of an unheralded Division I program to force his way to the MLB. An array of emotions inevitably come to the surface. Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Orion Kerkering did not visibly display these emotions in his big-league debut, though.
But his father sure did. The 22-year-old righty, who is listed as a top 10 prospect in the Phillies' system, was unstoppable in the eighth inning of Sunday's 5-2 win against the New York Mets. He threw a scoreless inning and struck out two batters with his nasty slider (nine of 12 pitches were strikes). It was an incredible first impression in front of the lively home crowd at Citizens Bank Park, one that brought tears of joy to his father's eyes.
When your son, Orion Kerkering, makes his MLB debut and gets two strikeouts … there IS crying in baseball. pic.twitter.com/7DFhixpcmb
— MLB (@MLB) September 25, 2023
Todd Kerkering was emotional throughout his son's dominant inning of work, knowing that the former South Florida Bulls standout had finally achieved his lofty dream. While they may not share the exact same of sentimentality for such a big moment, the Phillies organization also recognizes the significance of this debut. In fact, it might be more appropriate to call it an audition.
Orion Kerkering and his signature slider might just earn a spot on the MLB playoffs roster. He has quickly risen up the ranks since being drafted in 2022. Kerkering has spent time in nearly every level of the franchise's farm system this year, thriving in each one.
He has now improbably been fast-tracked to the Phillies to fortify their usually suspect bullpen. Call it unconventional, but after seeing Kerkering's top-notch stuff Sunday night, this move certainly doesn't seem desperate. He looks ready for the huge opportunity. His father better stock up on Kleenex, because there are bound to be some more emotions before the Kerkerings' whirlwind 2023 concludes.