After the Phillies stockpiled infield bats early in the 2015 draft, Falter became Philadelphia’s first pitcher drafted, getting selected him in the fifth round. The Phillies signed him to a $420,000 bonus, roughly $50,000 above slot value, and got the ball rolling in his pro debut in late June. The California prep southpaw lived up to the lofty expectations in his first abbreviated campaign, posting a 3.45 ERA, 1.08 WHIP and 8.33 K:BB ratio across 28.2 innings in the rookie Gulf Coast League. Fast forward to 2016, and Falter has impressed in his first go-around in the Short-Season A NY-Penn League, mustering a 9.0 K/9, 1.8 BB/9 and 3.46 ERA across eight starts.
There is a lot to like about Falter’s physical build and refined mechanical attributes. Falter has a wiry and projectable 6-foot-4 frame, with room to pack on muscle to his lower half and torso. He is athletic, balanced and loose in his delivery, and he repeated his 3/4s arm slot well in my viewing. Falter works downhill well and creates nice extension out front, employing minimal head whack at release and landing with a clean and soft foot strike. Falter’s combination of athleticism and downhill plane allows for above-average control and command for his age, which shows up in his low walk rate in the pros. He showed some comfort locating inside to righties and lefties, and when he missed his spot, he primarily missed low in the zone and in the dirt. This allowed him to limit hard contact at the letters and to regularly induce ground ball contact.
Falter showed average fastball velocity in his start against State College, working 88-to-91 mph (T93). His fastball features some natural arm-side movement and works best thrown down in the zone, though it flattened out when elevated. His velocity declined a tick from the stretch, and also later in the start, so adding some muscle should bring about improved endurance and durability down the road. He relies heavily on his curveball, siting 75-to-77 mph in this start, and it was his go-to pitch, featuring 11-to-5 shape and occasionally flashing true 12-to-6 break. The pitch showcased sharp, downward break and was consistently difficult for hitters to identify at release. His changeup is raw, and presently lacks the ideal velocity separation from the heater, varying anywhere from 83-to-86 mph, with a two seam-looking action with fade away from right-handers rather than a pure changeup. The fading action was , but subtracting a few ticks off the changeup will help it play up even more.
Falter has a projectable, athletic build and clean mechanics from the left side and shows the ability to work ahead in the count and pound the zone with frequency. Adding a few ticks to the fastball will help as he matures physically. Like most prep hurlers, the key to sticking in the rotation will be developing the changeup for the long haul, though as most would attest, it is generally easier to develop feel for a changeup than the curve, which works in his favor. If everything comes together, Falter could have a potential mid-rotation profile, albeit with higher risk given his age, and his ability to build his innings count and fill out physically as he works his way through the Phillies’ farm system.