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2015 MLB Draft Reviews – Philadelphia Phillies

1.15 – OF/3B Cornelius Randolph (Griffin HS, Georgia)

Even though Kolby Allard, Walker Buehler, Nick Plummer, and Trenton Clark were just a few of the names I had higher than Cornelius Randolph on my personal board at the time of the Phillies selection, a hit tool like his makes the pick very easy to defend. That’s one of the beautiful (and frustrating things) about the MLB Draft. It’s very difficult to get an accurate read on any one prospect because there are just too darn many to track if you want to do it right. Pro teams with scouting staffs that employ up to two dozen scouts dedicated to tracking amateurs around the country — heck, even the Scouting Bureau only employs 34 full-time scouts — often draft early-round prospects on little more than broad platitudes and general observations, all with vague enough wording to give the decision-maker a plausible out if the pick goes south. Yes, they have the ability to cover way more of the country (and beyond) than any independent publication, and, true, they can expend resources that allow them to dig deeper on the unseen things (makeup, injuries, track record before first hitting it big on showcase circuit) that are missed out on by smaller outlets, but with the way information gets passed around the internet these days, a fan with a passion for amateur ball can pick up on many of the same overarching positives and negatives that make up the overall prospect package of a draft’s top guys. Throw in some video, a game story or two, and a good comp, and even an novice can begin imagining what these first round talents can ultimately become if it all works out. It’s still a relatively shallow understanding of what any one prospect is all about, but it’s something.

Anyway, that’s a long way of trying to say that getting worked up by lists you find online is neither a healthy nor productive way to follow the draft. Pro teams are all over the place internally with their rankings, so putting too much stock into any one list created by an outsider, myself included, isn’t wise. Of course, many of these lists provide really good information that can help you draw your own conclusions. I make a list every year, but it isn’t meant to be anything more than an organizational device that serves as a vehicle to get as much scouting information out there as possible. I’d like to think the information found therein is far more valuable than me stating a preference for Player X over Player Y, but people tend to get stuck on the rankings. Generally speaking, I think most drafts wind up with talent levels that can be put into tiers like this: 1-5, 6-50, 51-150, and 151-500. There will be players drafted early on that don’t fall into one of those tiers — Lucas Williams and Bailey Falter both were far enough off my radar that I didn’t really consider either for a spot in the Big 500 — but that doesn’t mean they were bad picks or “overdrafts.” Rather than get hung up on the idea that a team either made a dumb pick because I don’t know the player well (very untrue) or beating myself up because I missed on a “third round player” (slightly untrue), I take perceived “overdrafts” as an opportunity to learn about prospects that have fallen by the wayside during the process. Conclusion: pre-draft rankings cease to matter once the big day comes and goes, if they matter at all.

For all the shit I got for overusing the word “plus” in the Big 500, only five players were slapped with a plus hit tool: Alex Bregman, Ian Happ, Mark Mathias, Ty Moore, and, why else would I mention this if it wasn’t also this guy, Cornelius Randolph. That’s four college guys and Randolph. He can really, really hit. For a slightly more nuanced take, here’s what I had on him pre-draft…

Cornelius Randolph (Griffin HS, Georgia) heads the class as a potential plus hitter with above-average power upside. He’s at or around average elsewhere (speed, glove, arm), so it’ll be the continued development of the bat that will define him. I threw out a weird and wild Gregg Jefferies comp on him last time his name came up. Recently I heard from somebody who said that there were aspects of his game (namely his stick) that reminded him of the high school version of Anthony Rendon. Both of those comparisons are bold and exciting, but I keep coming back to a lefthanded version of Edgardo Alfonzo. The issue with that comp is the difference in approach between the two hitters. I couldn’t unearth an old Alfonzo scouting report to make a direct comparison, but it stands to reason that his career BB/K ratio of 596/617 hardly came as a surprise after posting more walks than strikeouts as a quick-moving minor league talent. Even without the benefit of those old reports, it’s clear that Alfonzo was a preternaturally mature hitter from the day the ink dried on his first pro contract. Excellent plate discipline numbers like that are impossible to project on any high school prospect, but I’d be especially wary of expecting anything close to Randolph, a player who will have to answer many of the same questions of approach that I brought up in the recent Brendan Rodgers deep dive. Present concerns aside, I don’t think it’s crazy to believe that Randolph can be an impact big league hitter with average or better plate discipline in time.

Plus hit tool, chance for average or better plate discipline, and average (give or take) tools elsewhere sound like a first round pick to me. Of course, we knew all that a month ago, and I ranked him in a spot that corresponds with a second round grade. The nature of rankings, I suppose. I remain curious about his ultimate power utility and how he’ll respond to playing in the outfield regularly for the first time remains an open question, but getting natural born hitters who love nothing more than squaring up fastballs against big-time pitching is a pretty smart drafting strategy early on.

2.48 – 2B/OF Scott Kingery (Arizona)

On draft night, after some thought, I began to like the Randolph a good bit. I absolutely LOVED the Kingery selection from the second it went down. I’ve read Phillies fans discuss his selection online in the days since the draft wrapped up, but I’m here to say that he’s even better than you think. I wrote about Kingery almost as much as any college hitter this spring and saw him as a first round talent that slipped because he was part of a big tier of late-first, sandwich round, early-second round players on many boards. Getting him at 48 is a big win and projecting him as a quick-moving potential above-average long-term fixture in a big league lineup hardly seems like a reach. I got a lot of good comps on Kingery this spring — Mookie Betts getting a mention was pretty thrilling, I’ll admit — before settling on the rather optimistic more physical Ray Durham (30+ career fWAR) comparison. Years ago I dreamed of an up-the-middle combination of Andrew Pullin and Roman Quinn approximating the Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins dynamic on the next competitive Phillies teams. That ain’t happening, so now it’s time to start dreaming about the eventuality of Scott Kingery and JP Crawford vacuuming up ground balls and ranking among the league’s best offensive players at their spots for years to come. That’s a championship-caliber combination. For fun, here’s a quick Phillies Top 30 prospect list. I left out recent international signings that probably deserve spots and had a particularly tricky time slotting the bats from 4-7. I mean, Randolph at 5 makes the most sense, but I liked Kingery more than him pre-draft and see no reason to change that now…but Canelo has done everything possible to deserve being ahead of Kingery — imagine the hype on Kingery if he does what Canelo has done this year after reporting to Lakewood — yet Canelo at 5 still feels too rich, so I don’t know. Biddle feels too low as well. And on raw talent alone you could move the entire triumvirate of Pujols, Encarnacion, and Pickett up ten spots each.

  1. SS JP Crawford
  2. RHP Aaron Nola
  3. CF Roman Quinn
  4. CF Carlos Tocci
  5. SS Malquin Canelo
  6. 2B Scott Kingery
  7. OF Cornelius Randolph
  8. RHP Franklyn Kilome
  9. RHP Zach Eflin
  10. OF Kelly Dugan
  11. RHP Ben Lively
  12. C Andrew Knapp
  13. C Deivi Grullon
  14. CF Aaron Altherr
  15. RHP Ricardo Pinto
  16. LHP Yoel Mecias
  17. LHP Jesse Biddle
  18. OF Dylan Cozens
  19. OF Jose Pujols
  20. 1B Luis Encarnacion
  21. OF Greg Pickett
  22. LHP Matt Imhof
  23. SS Dylan Bosheers
  24. 1B Kyle Martin
  25. 1B Rhys Hoskins
  26. LHP Tom Windle
  27. C Gabriel Lino
  28. LHP Brandon Leibrandt
  29. CF Aaron Brown
  30. OF Cam Perkins

One interesting note that likely won’t apply to the Phillies for obvious reasons, but could come into play down the line: after speculating about it on the site, multiple contacts reached out in agreement that Kingery had the better chance of being a quality shortstop in pro ball than his far more discussed teammate Kevin Newman. As thrilled as I am that my local nine took Kingery in the second round, there’s a part of me that can’t help but be a little bummed that we’ll likely never get to see whether or not he could hack it at short in the pros in this organization.

7/20 UPDATE: That’s not a great list, but I’m not sure what exactly I’d do differently at this point. Who is number two in this system now that Nola’s on the way to graduating? I love Quinn, but that seems crazy aggressive. Maybe it’s Kilome, though I’m not sure that’s any less aggressive. I still don’t know what to make of Tocci — he’s a big league player, sure, but are we talking first-division regular, fourth outfielder, or up-and-down guy? — and Canelo has been overmatched physically after his promotion. The early returns on the short-season players shouldn’t be weighed too heavily, but I’ve heard too many positive things about 16-year old Jonathan Arauz to not have him pretty high up. I’d also probably swap Lively and Biddle. The less said about the disappointing end of Yoel Mecias’s time with the Phillies the better.

3.83 – 3B/SS Lucas Williams (Dana Hills HS, California)

My admittedly sparse notes on “Luke Williams,” a player I had listed as an OF/SS pre-draft: above-average to plus speed; good HS program; could be tried behind plate; 6-2, 175 pounds. That’s it. I won’t prattle on about whatever I could dig up publicly now since anybody reading this presumably also knows how to use Google. Based on what I do know, I’d say I have reservations about his bat, but remain intrigued by his plus speed (undersold in that pre-draft blurb), athleticism, and defensive upside.

4.114 – 1B Kyle Martin (South Carolina)

Martin is all you could want in a senior-sign bat-first prospect. He’s always controlled the strike zone, he’s showed steady power gains over his four years as a Gamecock, and he has enough athleticism, arm strength, and defensive ability to be an asset in the field. On top of that, they drafted him in the precise range where I thought his talent warranted pre-draft, which doesn’t sound like much — in a sport when talent evaluation varies so drastically from team to team and an inability to trade picks, the concept of draft day value is largely irrelevant — but comes into play a bit more for senior-signs that often find themselves overdrafted more for financial reasons than on-field performance. Martin is a worthy fourth round pick, senior-sign or not. This point is underscored by Martin’s underslot yet not drastically underslot $200,000 bonus. I’ve called him a lefthanded Steve Pearce in the past, so we’ll stick with that comparison until shown otherwise.

Last year’s top ten round college first round pick Rhys Hoskins has proven himself to be a worthwhile prospect follow so far, so perhaps it isn’t a stretch to imagine a first base platoon one day where the righthanded Hoskins shares times with Martin. We’ll ignore Hoskins pronounced reverse-splits for now to make the narrative work.

5.144 – LHP Bailey Falter (Chino Hills HS, California)

The draft is a means of acquiring talent. That’s all it is. Obviousness of that statement aside, the importance of realizing that the player acquisition side of a team’s front office is only as useful as the player development side (and vice-versa) can not possibly underscored enough. When a team drafts well and develops poorly, the public (fairly, I’d argue based on the limited information at hand) bemoans the bad drafts as the reason for the failures. Conversely, when a team drafts just well enough to get by and develops the shit out of what they’ve been given, then then public (fairly, again) praises the club’s decision-makers for bringing in so many talented youngsters that have kept the big league team stocked with exciting young players. I get why that happens. The MLB Draft doesn’t captivate the casual fan’s attention like its NFL and NBA counterparts, but it’s still far more of a public event than the coaching, teaching, and growing pains going on year-round on minor league backfields across the country. It’s easy to understand why the draft is the flashbulb event that fans can use as proof, positively or negatively, that the team knows what they are doing. They aren’t wrong per se, but it’s only a small part of the story. Talent acquisition and development go together in a way so

Bailey Falter is a talent. It’s a good thing the Phillies acquired him. Those are facts, at least as I see them. Now it’s on the player development staff (as well as the player himself, obviously) to determine what becomes of that talent. Falter has a chance to a really good big league pitcher. Falter also could stall out in the low-minors and never see AA. It’s a risky profile — as is any early-round high school pitching prospect, really — but not one without easy to envision upside. This pick will be judged based on how Falter performs going forward, but, for many on the outside looking in, the success or failure of the selection will have nothing to do with how the player accepts pro instruction and, more importantly, the quality of instruction itself. No, the pick will be judged on the actual pick itself. That’s not entirely fair, but, as spelled out above, it’s the reality of the baseball world. I’ll go on record saying that I like the Falter pick because he’s a talented enough player to make the developmental challenges worth it, even though he was largely off my radar (notes on him pre-draft: mid-80s FB, commands it well, good breaking ball, all about projection) just a few weeks ago.

Reaching out to contacts about possible comps for Falter produced some interesting names. Justin Jacome, the lefty from UC Santa Barbara taken just two picks after Falter, is an interesting one. Jacome filled out quite a bit during his time in school, so the physical projection piece that is tied closely to on-field development seemed to work in his favor. Tyler Skaggs, listed at 6-4, 180 pounds as a HS senior, was another interesting name brought up, specifically for the fact that Falter’s long arms and legs were cited as the basis of the physical part of the comp. I loved how specific that part of the comparison was, and can see the two having similar upsides if it all clicks. The comparison I keep coming back to is Kent Emanuel. Emanuel was a 6-4, 170ish pound lefty coming out of high school who tacked on over thirty pounds of good weight in his first year in Chapel Hill. His fastball went from mid-80s in high school to 87-89 by the end of his freshman year to a similar sitting velocity but with more 90s and 91s at his best by his draft year. Falter is ahead of that velocity curve already, so thinking there’s a chance he’ll wind up more of an 87-91 with 92s and 93s sprinkled in within a few seasons of strength, conditioning, and a typical teenage growth trajectory doesn’t seem far off.

The tl;dr version that cuts away a lot of the fluff and the comps from above: Falter was in the mid- to upper-80s almost all spring (84-87) before making a jump just a few weeks before the draft to a more consistent 87-91. If he maintains that velocity in the big leagues — to say nothing of the distinct possibility he adds to it — and combines his two average or better offspeed pitches (curve, change) with his advanced command, then you’re looking at a solid mid-rotation arm. Getting there will take time and with time comes risk, but that’s what you get in the fifth round.

6.174 – LHP Tyler Gilbert (USC)

Gilbert was one of the later cuts from my top pitching lists. He was considered because of the chance he can keep starting professionally due to a potentially average across the board three-pitch mix. Armed with a fastball that sits 87-91 and an average mid-70s curve, Gilbert was able to miss bats all spring (8.72 K/9 in 63 IP) in the competitive Pac-12. If they were going Trojan lefthander I would have preferred his rotation-mate Kyle Twomey (13th round to the Cubs), but what’s done is done and I can get on board with their second straight sixth round lefty starter from a big-time college program. Brandon Leibrandt looks good so far, so maybe Gilbert can follow a similar path.

7.204 – RHP Luke Leftwich (Wofford)

Leftwich has missed bats since he first stepped foot on campus. His strikeouts per nine each year: 11.22, 9.24, and 11.53. His control has been an issue in the past, but steady improvement in that area is encouraging. His walks per nine each year: 6.83, 3.43, and 2.83. All of that made him an attractive pick for a team that relies on analytics more than most. Could it be that the Phillies, true to their word, actually looked at something like a college pitcher’s peripherals to inform their decision-making? Admittedly K/9 and BB/9 aren’t exactly the most advanced metrics available to pro teams, but it’s a start. From a scouting perspective, Leftwich has perfectly acceptable generic righthand pitcher stuff: 88-92 FB, 78-82 CB, 81-83 CU. He should get the chance to keep starting in the pros (note: the Phillies have already stated that this is their intention), but, like Gilbert, I suspect his most likely hope in having a meaningful big league career will come after he makes the full-time switch to the bullpen.

8.234 – OF Greg Pickett (Legend HS, Colorado)

This pre-draft assessment sums up my feelings on Pickett well…

The Greg Pickett (Legend HS, Colorado) bandwagon has emptied quickly this spring, but I’m sticking with the big raw power, disciplined approach, and average all-around skill set elsewhere all the same. There’s some justified concern that he’ll have to move to first base sooner rather than later, but that’s not an outcome I’m sweating too much just yet.

I still don’t quite understand how or why Pickett fell as far as he did — both in the pre-draft rankings and during the draft itself — but I’m sure the Phillies don’t mind. I suppose big guys with some inherent swing-and-miss and defensive concerns tend to fall, but at some point the reward begins to greatly outweigh the risk. Only in the MLB draft can you land your third best prospect with your eighth overall pick.

9.264 – CF Mark Laird (LSU)

I called Laird a future big league player before this season began, so no sense in backing down on that after his best collegiate year. If pure uncut straight to the vein upside is your thing, then you’ll have to get your fix elsewhere. Laird is currently a two-tool player, but those two tools are good enough to carve out a bench role at the highest level if the bat cooperates just a bit. His plus range in CF makes sense when you factor in his plus-plus speed and advanced instincts on balls hit to him in any direction. He was overshadowed some by the man who flanked him in the Tigers outfield (Andrew Stevenson) to say nothing of hitting in the same lineup as the second overall pick in the draft (Alex Bregman), but as a high-contact hitter who can run and defend he’s got a chance. The biggest red flag is his lack of power. His swing isn’t geared for it and he’s not physically strong to drive the ball much otherwise. Obviously power is never going to be part of his game, but the threat of at least some pop impacts how you’re pitched. More advanced arms could take advantage of the absence of power by challenging him early in counts, and his ability to make enough contact, extend at bats, and find his way on base could be neutralized.

10.394 – 3B Josh Tobias (Florida)

Tobias has been on the prospect radar since his high school days back when he roamed the outfield for Southeast Guliford in North Carolina. I remember then thinking he had the chance to grow into a first round pick while at Florida due to his speed/power blend, physical strength (he looked like a running back), and aptitude for picking up the smaller aspects of the game. You have to give him a lot of credit for becoming the kind of defensive player at third base that he has become. After seeing him in high school, I never would have guessed he’d work himself into a plus infielder at any spot, so good for him. I wrote this about him during the season…

Tobias has always flashed talent (above-average speed, more pop than his size suggests, and a steady, versatile glove), so it’s been nice to see him put together a strong senior season. As a senior sign with a possible utility future (the approach keeps him from being a starter for me), he could find his way into the late single-digit rounds.

…and it holds up today. I was off a tad with the guess about what round he’d go, but I can live with that. I still think he could make it as a utility player capable of playing above-average defense at third, second (where the Phillies intend to play him), and the outfield corners.

11.324 – C Edgar Cabral (Mt. San Antonio CC, California)

Cabral is the first of three college catchers selected by the Phillies that have a chance to be quality big league backups due in part to average or better defensive skills and well-balanced offensive approaches. Cabral has the most compact build of the three with a strong, squatty body that looks a little bit like Carlos Ruiz’s if you squint hard enough.

12.354 – RHP Skylar Hunter (The Citadel)

With Leftwich already selected, Hunter makes two players from the Southern Conference located within three hours driving distance of one another in South Carolina. Add in Kyle Martin and you’ve got three different college prospects taken from three different South Carolina universities in the first twelve rounds. Hunter is a nice upside grab as an undersized righthander with a big heater (88-94 in long outings, have seen it up to 96-97 in shorter bursts), an average or better breaking ball that can flash plus when on, and, like Leftwich, a long history of missing bats (11.21 K/9, 9.21 K/9, and 10.02 K/9). His control has never been great and likely never will be, but the stuff is there to imagine him as a high-leverage big league reliever if everything breaks right.

13.384 – CF Zach Coppola (South Dakota State)

I know I already cited some HS reports I had on previous prospects, but looking back through my archives and seeing Zach Coppola’s name for some reason put how long I’ve been doing this into perspective. Hard to believe it’s been seven drafts already. I’ll reminisce later because for now we’ve got a junior outfielder from South Dakota State to talk about. I praised his plus speed, strong arm, and potential for plus range in center field back when Coppola was a high school senior at Dowling Catholic HS in Iowa. I comped him to Michigan’s Patrick Biondi, a draft class peer at the time who went on to be drafted in the ninth round in 2013 by the Mets. As it turned out, it wasn’t the worst comparison I’ve ever made. Coppola went on to hit .327/.422/.367 (789 OPS) in his college career. Biondi hit .303/.397/.391 (788 OPS) in his college career. They came about it in different ways, but the one point difference in OPS feels like a scouting victory. Not much about Coppola’s scouting profile has changed since high school. He’s still the good fielding, plus running, strong throwing, stylin’, profilin’, limousine riding, jet flying, kiss-stealing, wheelin’ n’ dealin’ son of a gun he’s always been. You could even make a case for preferring him to Mark Laird, though I remain on the side of the guy who hit in the SEC over the Summit League star. Still, the two are similar prospects who will likely be in position to battle it out for playing time at each step of the system over the next few years. Fun final fact on Coppola: he was a perfect 39 for 39 in stolen base attempts this past season. Fitting for a player on a team called the Jackrabbits, no?

14.414 – C Austin Bossart (Penn)

I mentioned this on the site before the draft, but the Orioles had as much scouting heat at Penn games throughout the spring as any other team. It wasn’t uncommon to see them double up their coverage, especially if it happened to be a game started by LHP Ronnie Glenn. Naturally, neither Glenn nor Bossart were drafted by Baltimore, so my scoop wound up being a bust. So it goes. As for the topic on hand, I really do like Bossart quite a bit, and I’ve called him a future big league catcher to anybody with the displeasure of getting trapped into a recent baseball draft conversation with me. A quick pass at my unedited notes transcribed from seeing him close to a dozen times this past spring…

Austin Bossart: above-average raw and average in-game power, capable of using all fields with the stated goal of hitting line drives to center becoming a reality in 2015; swing more geared towards contact than power at present, though balance and fluidity of hitting mechanics are encouraging; impressive plate coverage and overall knowledge of strike zone; not overly athletic but enough of an athlete to stick behind plate without worry; can get lazy and stab at balls across his body rather than shift his weight; physical abilities defensively are evident, so good coaching and a more authoritative voice could get him where he needs to be; average to slightly below-average pop times, but trended up as the year progressed; times will improve with coaching, practice, and cleaned up footwork, as raw arm strength is above-average to plus; outstanding team leader who had clear respect from teammates, coaching staff, and opposition; top fifteen round talent on merit, top ten possibility as senior-sign, and chance for long big league career as contributing player

15.444 – SS Dylan Bosheers (Tennessee Tech)

Pre-draft on Bosheers…

I made the choice to headline this piece with Matt Beaty, but I could just have easily opted to kick it off with a couple hundred words on the bizarrely underrated Tennessee Tech SR SS/2B Dylan Bosheers, who is ranked one spot ahead of the big bat of Beaty due to his almost equal bat but clearly more impressive defensive upside. Quite simply, Bosheers was a baffling omission from last year’s draft. He’s done everything asked from him as a college player and then some (.368/.444/.577 with 27 BB/32 K in 234 AB last year), and he has at least two clear average or better professional tools (defense, speed). He’s not just a slap and dash bat, either; he’s got an approach geared towards driving the ball and he’s capable of using the whole field as well as almost any middle infielder in the country. A future pro shortstop with average speed (plays up thanks to his smarts on the bases) and meaningful pop that walks as much as he strikes out has a place in the draft’s top fifteen rounds. I could see him deservedly getting picked in the same range I predicted for Beaty (8th/9th/10th) as a money-saving option senior sign for a smart club that emphasizes college production. Depending on how things shake out the rest of the way, he might wind up even higher than that on my personal board. I like players with the upside of being quality big league infielders, what can I say? I’m not great at analogies, but I think something like [Alex Bregman : Blake Trahan as Blake Trahan : Dylan Bosheers] works.

I finished with Bosheers ranked just over three hundred spots higher than where the Phillies wound up taking him. He’s a player I believe in. It’s an up-the-middle defensive profile with a history of controlling the strike zone and flashing power. Even if he lacks the foot speed to have the range needed to play short, I think there’s enough athleticism and offensive upside to have him work as either a regular second baseman or a first-division utility infielder down the line.

7/20 UPDATE: Hitting .048/.070/.095 in your first 42 professional AB doesn’t mean it’s time to hang them up, but it makes some of the effusive praise above seem a bit off the mark. I still believe.

16.474 – 1B Brendon Hayden (Virginia Tech)

Hayden flashed ability his first, third, and final college seasons, though the less said about his down sophomore campaign (.193/.274/.299), the better. Beyond that lost year, he’s always been a deep fly guy (around .500 SLG all other years) with a bit too much swing-and-miss in his approach for my tastes. His size (6-5, 210) and arm strength (90 MPH off the mound) make him a more interesting player than your typical sixteenth round pick, though neither necessarily makes him that much more exciting a prospect. There’s some belief that 100% focus on hitting will help him at the plate — he threw over 50 innings in a Hokie uniform and during summer leagues in his career — but that might be little more than wishful thinking. For a pick this late, however, finding a big two-way player with power and his kind of arm strength is a net positive.

17.504 – RHP Kenny Koplove (Duke)

I liked Michael Matuella as much as anybody, but the depth of the Duke pitching staff was overlooked by many all spring. It was great to see said depth get some deserved recognition during the draft. In addition to Matuella, Sarkis Ohanian, Andrew Istler, and James Marvel were all selected from the Duke staff. Also drafted from the Duke bullpen was Kenny Koplove. Did I once write that Koplove was “not the next [Marcus] Stroman, but not not the next Stroman if you catch my drift” early on in his Duke career after seeing him pitch in high school? I could deny it, but the search bar and archives don’t lie. Misguided optimism of years past aside, I really do think they’ve found a late round gem in Koplove. In his first year back on the mound full-time, he struck out 13.16 batters per nine. The walks were higher than you’d like (4.27 per nine), but that’s to be expected considering his time away from pitching. Add that ability to miss bats to a strong arm (88-92, 94 peak), above-average athleticism (he was a shortstop after all), a nasty low-80s slider that flashes plus, and an arm action that gives even experienced college hitters fits, and you’ve got a potential big league reliever with as yet untapped upside all for the price of pick 504. His fastball and slider both move enough to make him a real relief prospect, but if the recent reports of an improved changeup are real, then he’s even more interesting.

18.534 – C Greg Brodzinski (Barry)

Brodzinski’s path to pro ball is a fun one: from Bishop Eustace Prep (NJ) to South Carolina to Coastal Carolina to Kirkwood CC to Division II Barry University to the Philadelphia Phillies. The Bishop Eustace piece should stand out as that’s where the club first became familiar with Brodzinski’s ability. Despite the relatively quick trip across the bridge to Jersey, I personally missed Brodzinski during his HS days. Saw a lot of Billy Rowell and a good bit of Devin Smeltzer, but wasn’t able to get to Brodzinski in between. His talent hasn’t always been well-regarded and there’s a chance that his circuitous route to pro ball has turned him into an undervalued prospect and potential steal this late. The scouting blurb on him hits all the right notes for me: serious bat speed, smart approach at the plate, above-average defensive skills behind plate, and all the positive intangible qualities (dedicated to self-improvement, loves the game, players with some attitude, willing leader) you could ask for. I’m in. His senior year was pretty darn solid as well: .327/.367/.469 with 11 BB/15 K in 196 AB. His selection marks the second straight year the Phillies selected a player out of Barry after taking Calvin Rayburn in the 16th round last season.

19.564 – RHP Robert Tasin (Oklahoma)

Tasin does a lot of what Koplove does (88-93 FB, low-80s SL, funky delivery), but none of it quite as well. He did a nice job keeping runs off the board this past year (2.52 ERA in 78.2 IP), but didn’t miss a ton of bats (6.53 K/9). As a college starter likely to be moved to a relief role sooner rather than later, there’s a chance, as always, that his stuff will play up enough in short bursts to make him an interesting low-level follow.

20.594 – LHP Will Stewart (Hazel Green HS, Alabama)

Stewart is a nice find for the scouting staff as a lefthanded arm with some velocity (88-92), feel for three potential usable offspeed pitches (CB, CU, SL), and projection ahead of him. He’s one of two pitchers selected by the Phillies this year out of the state of Alabama; Gandy Stubblefield, of West Alabama, played his home games about three hours south of where Stewart played his.

21.524 – RHP Kevin Walsh (Arkansas-Pine Bluff)

I don’t have a ton on Walsh despite having him pegged as one of two Golden Lions to follow back when I did my SWAC Follow List back in February. I do know that the South Jersey native is a good story as a Tommy John survivor who overcame a lot to get the chance to be selected by his hometown team. He missed a fair amount of bats this spring and you’d have to think the Phillies would be as familiar with his stuff as anybody since he’s a local kid, so who knows.

22.554 – RHP Sutter McLoughlin (Sacramento State)

Pre-draft on McLoughlin…

The WAC’s highest upside arm is attached to the body of Sacramento State JR RHP Sutter McLoughlin, a big (6-6, 225) college reliever with the stuff and athleticism to potentially move to the rotation as a professional. His fastball is consistently in the low- to mid-90s (90-95, 97 peak) and his changeup is one the better pitches of its kind in college ball. If he stays put in the bullpen in the pros, I could see him being a sneaky contender for this year’s draft’s fastest moving pitcher. I won’t go so far as to say I think he’ll be the fastest, but with two plus pitches already in the bag he’d certainly be in the mix.

I wrote that in mid-March. McLoughlin didn’t really build on his promising sophomore season as hoped — hence the 22nd round availability — but he didn’t exactly fall off a cliff, either. He’s actually been remarkably consistent in his college career: every season has seen him put up a K/9 between 6.10 to 7.20, a BB/9 between 1.80 and 2.11, and an ERA between between 1.81 and 2.11. Put it together and you have a pitcher with career marks around 6.75 (K/9), 2.00 (BB/9), and 2.00 (ERA). That kind of consistency is nice to see, but it also means that the jump in production that many anticipated — myself clearly included — never came. It would fly in the face of logic to suggest he could still see that drastic rush of improvement as a pro — true, 21-year old players are far from finished products, but you are what the numbers say you are at some point — but I’ll still hold out hope that the big (6-6, 230 now) righty with two plus pitches will have a light bulb moment when pro coaching and conditioning and his natural ability all combine to create a monster. Wishful thinking, probably, but even getting a player talented enough to start dreaming like that in the twenty-second round is a draft win.

23.584 – RHP Anthony Sequeira (Oral Roberts)

If you’re a big fella who can throw 88-92 MPH or better with a track record of piling up strikeouts, then you’ve apparently got a shot to get drafted by the Phillies. Sequeira is in my notes at 90-93 with his fastball, above-average command, size aplenty (6-6, 235), and the kind of results out of the bullpen that make you take notice (11.02 K/9 and 1.38 ERA in 32.2 IP). It also doesn’t hurt to be a two-way player, I guess. Like Hayden, Sequeira has experienced success as both a hitter and a pitcher at the college level. Both are 1B/RHP, though Hayden will go out as the hitter and Sequeira as the pitcher; an argument could be made, however, that the latter prospect and his .341/.423/.583 line with 29 BB/53 K in 223 AB is not only the more appealing prospect on the mound, but also in the batter’s box.

24.614 – LHP Zach Morris (Maryland)

After back-to-back seasons of modest at best periphals, I think there’s a chance that Zach Morris was drafted more for the Saved By The Bell jokes than his on-field ability. I mean, the team did draft an Amaro, Brundage, Morandini, and, most galling of all, a McCarthy, so why not have a little fun with a mid-round pick? When you get the chance for Twitter to make a billion horrible jokes all at once, you owe it to everybody to make it happen. Like the Duke team mentioned earlier, Maryland had an absolutely stacked bullpen this year. Unlike Koplove from that Duke pen, Morris doesn’t have much of a chance to wind up the best pro of the bunch. There’s something to work with there with a fastball that lives 87-92 and a breaking ball that will flash plus, but not missing bats in the Big-10 typically leads to disappointment in pro ball. Not for nothing, but he spelled it ZACK on the show.

25.644 – RHP Joey Lauria (UNLV)

This is an interesting one. Lauria is a a pitcher I identified as being an interesting draft name to store away based on performance only (8.77 K/9 and 3.82 ERA in 2014, 10.38 K/9 and 3.12 ERA in 2015), so it was a nice surprise to hear his name called on draft day. Just so we’re clear: that’s not me bragging about calling the selection as he was one of hundreds of names that I had on my list as being intriguing statistically but without enough information on their stuff to say more. Anyway, as an older (24 in October) senior-sign it was assumed that he’d ink a contract right away for a couple thousand bucks and give pro ball a shot. Lauria had other ideas. He’s not planning on signing and instead will stay at UNLV to help assist the baseball team while finishing up his Master’s in special education. On a personal (and professional, I suppose) level, that’s pretty cool. We could always use a few more good men in special education and one of the keys to being an effective educator over the long haul is the simple desire to do the job the best you can every day. There’s no hiding in your cubicle on days you don’t feel 100% in education; you’ve got somewhere between 20 and 35 clients counting on your undivided attention for six or more hours every weekday and there’s no faking that. Giving up a career in pro sports to pursue a career in education is a pretty clear sign that Lauria is serious and passionate about his career path. Good for him.

26.774 – LHP Andrew Godail (Sam Houston State)

Godail is another highly productive college arm (7.97 K/9, 8.21 K/9, and 8.08 K/9 in the last three seasons) who has likely been on the Phillies radar for years considering how heavily scouted The Woodlands HS, Godail’s prep team, has been over the years. Famous alums include Paul Goldschmidt, Kyle Drabek, Brett Eibner, Jameson Taillon, Bryan Brickhouse, and Kevin McCanna. Some of those earlier names are more famous, but the later names belong to guys who had careers that overlapped with Godail. I had the Sam Houston State lefty at 88-92 with his fastball with an above-average slider and a raw yet interesting change. As noted above he’s always missed bats collegiately, but it wasn’t until this past year that his control began to round into shape. Said control is improved, but there were still signs of his old effectively wild days (check his HBP and WP numbers) this past spring. All together, it’s still enough to make him a candidate to keep starting in the minors, but, like many guys selected at this point in the draft, his most likeliest path to the big leagues will be through the bullpen.

27.804 – LHP Jake Reppert (Northwest Nazarene)

Finally, the Phillies get their Pacific Northwest prospect. Typically they go to Pat Gillick’s old stomping grounds a bit sooner than the 27th round, but waiting on Reppert could pay off in the long run. Reppert fits right in with many of the Phillies recents picks: he’s big (6-5, 200), productive (8.43 K/9 and 3.24 BB/9), and underscouted. He’s also a really smart, self-aware player who would make for one heck of an addition to any Phillies minor league website looking for a thoughtful player willing to share thoughts about life in pro baseball. Going that route didn’t work out so well for Michael Schwimer back in the day, though at least the concept of schwimlocity lives on today. Anyway, Reppert, armed with an upper-80s fastball and keen observation skills about the weirdness of the low-minors world around him, could wind up a fan favorite — as much as any 27th round pick can be a fan favorite — if the stars align.

7/20 UPDATE: Ignore all of that. Reppert has opted to move on with his life and voluntarily retire from the game. Good luck to him.

28.834 – RHP Gandy Stubblefield (West Alabama)

This is the section where I out myself as the smug asshole I truly am. One of my favorite draft past times is watching the experts across the internet suddenly take a great interest in amateur baseball. These are the guys who run team sites and/or minor league prospect offshoots who take to their blogs or Twitter the week before the draft and come up with their own draft boards and then get indignant when their team passes up the guy they wanted — who they only knew existed the day before and only relate to as words on a page — because admitting you don’t know everything about the sport is a sign of weakness that somehow will invalidate all the other (mostly good!) work done on those sites. Chill. It’s all right to say, “Hey, the Phillies drafted a guy. I like what I read about him on Baseball America. Looking forward to following him as a prospect. Hope he works out!” Anyway, all of these people are easy to spot on draft day(s) when players who don’t go by their given names are selected. I saw so many tweets and posts that referenced Horace Stubblefield, many of which went on to talk about his pro upside with total authority. You’ve just exposed yourself as somebody who literally never heard of the guy until he was drafted. Relax. It’s all right to hedge a bit on draft day. If a fool like me who attempts to cover the draft 24/7/365 is willing to admit there are players I don’t know much about, then so can you.

Anyway, the first mention of GANDY Stubblefield came on my site four years ago. That was when he was a high upside high school arm from Lufkin HS in Texas with a lanky 6-4, 180 frame, plenty of life on his 88-92 (94-95 peak) fastball, and a curve with pro upside. He was mentioned again two years ago as a draft-eligible sophomore at Texas A&M. He filled out some, firmed up the curve (above-average mid- to upper-70s by then), and struggled with both inconsistent command (especially of his offspeed) and control. My most recent notes on him have him, a senior at West Alabama, still capable of hitting the low- to mid-90s but now throwing a slider as his primary breaking ball. His final college year was impressive on the surface (1.82 ERA in 84 IP), but his peripherals remained more good than great (7.61 K/9 and 3.11 BB/9). The well-traveled righthander is a worthy gamble here due to his long track record as a prospect under the draft microscope, power stuff (when on and healthy), and prototypical size.

30.864 – OF Von Watson (Briarcrest Christian HS, Tennessee)

Watson is a physically strong athlete with a lot of averages on his card: average arm, average speed, average raw power. That may not sound like a particularly appealing late-round tools gamble, but average in the context of Major League Baseball, as future tools are graded, is no joke. Watson figures to be a near-impossible sign than most because of the short potential turnaround to re-entering the draft. As one of the 2015 HS class’s older prospects, he’ll be a draft-eligible sophomore and, assuming he doesn’t sign, looking to improve on his thirtieth round position in 2017.

7/20 UPDATE: He didn’t sign. Put him on a follow list and we’ll check back in two years.

31.894 – OF Kyle Nowlin (Eastern Kentucky)

The second player selected from the Ohio Valley after Bosheers, Nowlin is an honest five-tool outfielder with real power (.690 SLG), speed (18/24 SB), athleticism, and, keeping up with one of the new scouting director’s first rules, an average or better hit tool. Asking around after the draft resulted in a surprise admission from a contact who said he preferred the all-around offensive game of the 31st round pick Nowlin over that of Kyle Martin, the fourth round pick. He said that if he came back for a senior season he would have the chance to jump up twenty or more rounds and potentially get into the single-digit round range as a high-priority 2016 senior-sign.

7/20 UPDATE: Another player who couldn’t come to terms with the Phillies. He’s hitting .280/.408/.430 with 21 BB and 14 K in 100 AB for the Wilmington Sharks of the Coastal Plains League.

32.924 – LHP Nick Fanti (Hauppauge HS, New York)

I think they’ll make a run at Fanti yet, but part of me thinks he could have been low-level insurance against failing to sign Bailey Falter. Both have similar basic scouting profiles, though Falter’s present stuff is a tick better across the board to say nothing of his more projectable frame and arm speed. Fanti is a mid-80s lefty who leans on his well-commanded fastball while mixing in a curve with upside. Now that Falter is signed I’m not sure how high they’ll prioritize him out of the five remaining unsigned prep players. One big red flag on Fanti: he failed to throw a third straight no-hitter this spring. For some back-to-back no-hitters would be impressive, but not getting that third in a row makes me worry. How good could he really be? Honestly, even three in a row doesn’t do much for me. Has to be at least ten. Double-digit consecutive no-hitters or bust.

7/20 UPDATE: Fanti signed, so I guess he wasn’t Falter insurance after all. He struck out the side in his pro debut. That’s good, but striking out four guys would have been cooler. What a slacker.

32.954 – OF Reggie Wilson (Oklahoma City)

I’ve got nothing on Wilson. His numbers (.374/.484/.626 with 39 BB/40 K and 20/26 SB) certainly check out. If you’re going to take a NAIA player I’m fully on board with taking a high-performing one at one of the nation’s powerhouse universities at the level. You now know what I know about him — unless you know more than me, which is entirely possible — but I have to say I’m kind of pumped to see a team take a chance on a player like this at this point in the draft. Just a heads up because I care: “at this point in the draft” figures to be a familiar refrain from here on out. Get used to it.

33.984 – RHP Jacob Stevens (Choate Rosemary Hall HS, Connecticut)

I’ve always liked to see teams take late-round fliers on high school guys from cold weather states, so count me in as a fan of Jacob Stevens being selected at this point in the draft. Going up to New England and finding a sturdy righthanded pitcher who throws 88-92 (93 peak) with two usable secondaries (CU, CB) and some athleticism is what you should be doing in the 33rd round, signability be damned. I’ve since heard that Stevens has been up to 95 with his fastball, but couldn’t get independent confirmation as of yet.

7/20 UPDATE: Stevens didn’t sign, so he’s off to Boston College in the fall.

34.1014 – OF Ben Pelletier (Ecole Secondaire De Montagne, Quebec)

I only happened on my notes on Pelletier while looking at my 2016 HS draft document during PG Nationals. As I updated some information on one of the many 2016 prep pitchers to know (Alex Speas, if you’re interested), I was stunned to see the name right below him…

OF Ben Pelletier (Quebec): power upside

As you can see, I don’t yet know a lot about many supposed 2016 high school prospects. Pelletier, obviously, doesn’t fall under the 2016 umbrella, but age-wise that’s where he belonged. The Canadian outfielder was born on August 22, 1998. The Boy is Mine by Brandy & Monica topped the charts, the Beastie Boys and Helen Hunt (!) were on the covers of Rolling Stone and Esquire respectively, and movies like Blade, Ever After, and Saving Private Ryan were popular at the box office. That actually doesn’t make it seem so recent, but I took the two minutes to look all that up so it stays. The point is Pelletier is a baby, so you can dream on his future going in any number of wonderful directions more easily than some of these 21-year old dinosaurs drafted elsewhere.

35.1044 – OF Andrew Amaro (Tampa)

Chatting the day before the draft with a pal…

Me: .320/.440/.483 – 25 BB/30 K – 19/23 SB – 147 AB. the line of a player the phillies will be drafting this year. who is it and how do i know?

Him: ????????

Me: transferred from maryland to division II power tampa. primarily an OF now, but has also played infield (2B mostly). good speed, no power, decent approach. last name: AMARO. believe it’s his nephew. if they don’t draft him, i’ll give a full refund for all my draft info

Thankfully, I won’t have to refund anybody after all. The selection of Amaro was the tipping point when many fans following the draft — conservatively, I’d say about 1% of the overall fan base — looking for a reason to let off some steam about recent moves Uncle Ruben has made. I get it. I experience a bit of this myself every year — even when things are going well with the big league team — and I get into some of my overarching feelings on the Good Ol’ Boy practice of padding the résumés of the next generation below. As much as I enjoy taking pot shots at the current regime, the selection of Amaro in the 35th round doesn’t warrant criticism. He can play. I’m not calling him a future big league player — he isn’t — but he’s a viable 30+ round draft pick. He’ll give you a little positional versatility (2B and OF), he can run, and he’s coming off a year where he hit .320/.440/.483 with 25 BB/30 K and 19/23 SB. If he can come in for a few years and be a minor league utility player capable of filling in the gaps while the “real” prospects get the time they need to develop, then he’s done his job.

36.1074 – RHP Gabe Gonzalez (Southern Nevada CC)

I had notes on Gonzalez from his HS days before last year’s draft that never saw the light of day, so here they are now…

RHP Gabriel Gonzalez (Arbor View HS, Nevada): 87-92 FB, 94 peak; mid-80s CU; mid- to upper-70s CB; inconsistent command; 6-3, 205 pounds

The selection of Gonzalez makes this the third straight year the Phillies have gone to Bryce Harper’s old school on the draft’s third day. The Coyotes had a dominant pitching staff led by Phil Bickford (cumulative staff 9.38 K/9 this year), so it should go without saying scouts saw a lot of these arms throughout the spring. Gonzalez dragged down the awesome staff average just a hair (8.11 K/9), but still missed enough bats as a freshman pitching in a competitive league in favorable offensive environments to warrant praise. His control (4.77 BB/9) could use some tightening, but his youth, upside, and present stuff make him a guy to follow. Worth noting or not, but my limited notes had him more 88-92 this spring and not quite up to the same peak velocity he showed as a prep arm (plus a slider rather than a curve as his primary breaking ball).

7/20 UPDATE: Gonzalez did not sign.

37.1104 – RHP Malcolm Grady (Homewood Flossmoor HS, Illinois)

I have Grady in my notes as sitting in the upper-80s (touching 92) with an advanced mid-70s curve (plus upside) and a usable present upper-70s to low-80s change with some sink. He’s also a good athlete with a 6-4, 200 pound frame with room to carry more weight. If signable, he’s a fun project to track. Athletes with projection from non-traditional baseball states are always a worthy gamble past the tenth round.

7/20 UPDATE: Grady didn’t sign, so he’ll head to Wabash Valley CC and try again in next year’s draft.

38.1134 – SS Beau Brundage (Mill Creek HS, Georgia)

Nope.

39.1164 – CF Griffin Morandini (Garnet Valley HS, Pennsylvania)

Nah.

40.1194 – 3B Thomas McCarthy (Allentown HS, New Jersey)

Gross. I find the drafting of complete non-prospect sons of team personnel distasteful. The Amaro pick doesn’t bother me because he’s a talented enough guy to warrant a late pick on even if his last name was Anderson. Brundage and Morandini are wasted picks, which bothers me when there are still worthwhile signable prospects out there that miss out on being drafted because those in power need their egos stroked. If there’s even a .001% chance you land a viable player with a pick this late, then giving that away for whatever intrinsic value comes with making members of your staff happy and proud of their kids’ undeserved accomplishments just doesn’t seem worth it. Reasonable people can disagree. At minimum, I acknowledge that getting worked up about picks in the thousands isn’t a constructive use of time or energy, so I’m cool with voicing my displeasure at the practice and then moving on to talking about the 35+ actual ballplayers selected by the team.

HOWEVER, they really went too far with the Thomas McCarthy pick. Knowing that the worst play-by-play announcer in Philadelphia sports history can forever remember the special moment when his son’s name crackled through the speaker phone to announce his selection makes me want to punch myself in the face. There’s no justice in this world. The Haves will always stay on top. Everything is ruined forever. Good draft, though. Guys in my Big 500 selected by the Phillies…

25 – Kingery
45 – Randolph
103 – Pickett
132 – Bosheers
142 – Martin
178 – Bossart
237 – Laird
245 – Tobias
269 – McLoughlin
380 – Hunter
405 – Koplove

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