Phillies pitching prospects Adam Morgan and Shane Watson to miss most of 2014

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After several years of dealing with a barren farm system, the Phillies have slowly been able to restock the lower ranks with some talent with plenty of upside. Pitchers Adam Morgan and Shane Watson are among those giving Phillies fans something to look forward to as the duo ranked sixth- and eighth-best in the organization, respectively, according to MLB.com.

But the Phillies got a double-dose of bad news yesterday, as MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki reported:

[Morgan] suffered a left shoulder injury [in May], which ultimately required surgery this month. Phillies assistant general manager Benny Looper said Morgan might not be back until August, at the earliest. Fellow prospect Shane Watson is scheduled to have right shoulder surgery shortly. He also is expected to be out until August.

Morgan was selected by the Phillies in the third round of the 2011 draft. He has been solid in three seasons in the organization, but suffered a shoulder injury in mid-May last season, sidelining him for two months. Doctors prescribed rest rather than undergoing surgery immediately. The Phillies put him on a pitch count. While the results were decent following his return (2.67 ERA in eight Triple-A starts), his strikeout and walk rates were worse (20-14 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 30 1/3 innings) and he was giving up hits at a much higher rate as well (.347 BABIP). Morgan will turn 24 years old at the end of February.

Watson, a 20-year-old taken in the first round of the 2012 draft, made just 16 starts in what would have been his first full season in professional baseball. With Single-A Lakewood, Watson posted a 4.75 ERA in 72 innings. Following a start on July 4, Watson was given time off due to shoulder fatigue, but was eventually shut down for the season in August. Like Morgan, doctors prescribed rest rather than a surgical procedure. In both cases, the rest seemed to only delay the inevitable.

Report: Orioles interested in Alex Cobb

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MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports that the Orioles have interest in free agent right-hander Alex Cobb, who rejected his one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Rays earlier this week. Cobb was most recently linked to the Cubs, who reportedly reached out to his agent during the GM Meetings and garnered mutual interest from the righty, but nothing appears to be set in stone yet.

Cobb, 30, completed his sixth season with the Rays in 2017. He went 12-10 in 29 starts and turned in a respectable 3.66 ERA, 6.4 SO/9 and career-best 2.2 BB/9 in 179 1/3 innings. Despite losing a couple of weeks to turf toe, he remained healthy for most of the year and showed no signs of the elbow issues that robbed him of the majority of his 2015-2016 campaigns.

It’s still fairly early for any deals to come to fruition, but Morosi notes that the Orioles seem to be focused on bulking up their rotation during the first few months of the offseason. It’ll take more than a healthy Alex Cobb to right that ship, however: Orioles’ starters earned a collective 5.70 ERA and 5.5 fWAR in 2017, good for worst and fourth-worst marks in the league, respectively. Behind Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy (and perhaps Gabriel Ynoa/Miguel Castro), they still need three viable starters to compete in 2018. Whether or not they can afford to spring for a single starter with Cobb’s price tag (four years, $48 million, per MLB Trade Rumors) remains to be seen.