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Skirrow has solid first start with Lehigh Valley

Noah Skirrow has been somewhat of an off-the-radar pitcher for the Philadelphia Phillies.

The Cambridge, Canada product came to the Phillies by way of Liberty University as an undrafted free agent. Since he signed in 2020, the Phillies had nowhere to send Skirrow, and he had to wait until 2021 when they assigned him to the old Florida Coast League.

He was able to impress the Phillies brass and moved from the FCL to Jersey Shore and then to Double-A Reading - all in his first season of professional ball.

“It’s been pretty hectic. It’s not how you dream of it starting, but you just take it in stride and keep your head down and do your best,” said the 24-year-old of his journey through the ranks of the Phillies organization, which now has him at Triple-A Lehigh Valley.

Finishing the 2021 season with a combined mark of 1-5 and a 4.81 ERA in 18 games (10 starts), Skirrow was sent back to Reading to open this season and rode the wave of ups and downs as a member of the Fightins rotation. In 21 starts at Reading, Skirrow was 5-8 with a 4.65 ERA. Skirrow has decent command (32 walks in 98 2/3 innings with Reading) and allowed just under one home run per nine innings of work, so what’s the problem?

In general, Skirrow would find himself getting into a jam and giving up multiple hits before he could work his way through the tight situations. It’s something that the young right-hander is going to have to fix before he can be thought of as a legitimate pitching prospect at the major league level.

With a total of 28 games at Reading - and the IronPigs being embarrassingly short on starting pitching - the Phillies moved Skirrow up to the Triple-A level last week, and he made his first start with Lehigh Valley. As it turned out, Skirrow turned in his best outing of the season and gave Lehigh Valley six shutout innings, allowing just two walks and three hits while striking out four batters in the game.

“I just went out there and told myself it was just like pitching at any other level,” said Skirrow. “You just have to do what you can on the mound, and it doesn’t really matter what level you are pitching at. You just have to go out and pitch.”

While Skirrow is not thought of in the same way as top pitching prospects Andrew Painter, Mick Abel or Griff McGarry, he is someone who is intriguing. He has found a somewhat symbiotic relationship with some of the younger, higher-touted prospects - and that has worked well for both sides.

“I got to see some pretty special things. Those guys can do some things that I can’t,” said Skirrow of the bigger-name prospects in the organization. “Especially with guys like Painter and Abel, though Painter is still a teenager, so they’re young and can do a lot of things, but I can pass along things like showing them how you can go about your day and then they would show me how to throw 100. I haven’t learned that, but they would go out and show me.

“They’re good guys and very humble, have their head screwed on straight and they’re a lot of fun to be around.”

Meanwhile, Skirrow has soaked up what he can from the more experienced players that he’s encountered. “I was in Reading when (Zach) Eflin did his rehab stint last year, and I got the chance to have a conversation with him and I took advantage of that to just kind of pick his brain.”

COUNTDOWN IS ON … Darick Hall has rediscovered his stroke since returning to Lehigh Valley. The big first basemen started slowly after being optioned back, but picked up the pace in the final games of the homestand against Worcester. In his last two games with the Pigs, Hall went 5-for-9 (.556) with two doubles, two home runs and five RBIs. He also has not struck out in four straight games. His home runs, one of which was to left field and the other to right center, give him 24 on the season as an IronPig and 33 overall. He currently ranks fourth on the list of home runs in a single season with the Pigs, just two behind Andy Tracy (2009), three behind Dylan Cozens (2017) and five off the pace of Rhys Hoskins (2017).

VEGAS UPDATE … The Triple-A championship is set for Las Vegas this season. It will match the champions of the Pacific Coast and International League in a one-game championship. Prior to that, the top division champs in each league will play each other to determine the league champion. Lehigh Valley is currently 2.5 games behind Durham in the IL East, with Jacksonville and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre both 1.5 games out. Lehigh Valley and Scranton will be playing each other at Coca-Cola Park for six games starting next Tuesday.

The IronPigs' Noah Skirrow delivers a pitch during his IronPigs debut. CHERYL PURSELL/LEHIGH VALLEY IRONPIGS