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2016 MLB Draft Reviews – Philadelphia Phillies
Top 500 Prospects Drafted by Philadelphia in 2016
3 – Mickey Moniak
22 – Kevin Gowdy
152 – Cole Stobbe
175 – Jake Kelzer
182 – Josh Stephen
216 – David Martinelli
219 – Darick Hall
289 – Cole Irvin
316 – JoJo Romero
457 – Danny Zardon
Complete List of 2016 Philadelphia Phillies Draftees
And now a few words on some Phillies draft picks…
1.1 – OF Mickey Moniak
Ten thoughts on Mickey Moniak (3)…
1. This was not a good year to have the first overall pick.
2. I actually think that the Phillies looked at this past year’s draft landscape, saw a disappointing lack of high-end talent, and decided to “settle” for a guy they considered to be the safest bet to be a long-term quality big league player. If that decision came at the expense of some star upside, so be it. That belief runs seemingly counter to the fact that they took a 17-year-old hitter with marginal power as a “safe” choice, but this was a weird year. I think they viewed Moniak’s package of speed (above-average to plus), center field range (same), and arm (average) as being enough to get him to the big leagues. Beyond that, his feel for hitting, bat speed, and textbook swing mechanics would make up for any supposed offensive deficiencies. Moniak may never be a conventional star, but he stands as good a chance as any other prospect in this class to be an above-average offensive contributor at a premium defensive position. An Adam Eaton who can play a credible center isn’t the kind of flashy upside (or topside, as Marti Wolever used to say) typically associated with 1-1, but it’s still pretty damn valuable. The risk-benefit ratio makes sense here. Better chance to hit than Kyle Lewis or Corey Ray, fewer defensive questions than Zack Collins and Nick Senzel* (it’s my own list, but this is the only one I’d quibble with myself on…), no red flags like Delvin Perez, not a pitcher like AJ Puk, not a HIGH SCHOOL pitcher like Jay Groome or Riley Pint…there’s a clear reason for preferring Moniak and his relative certainty over just about any of his peers.
* Going back to Senzel a bit, I wonder if the Phillies liked him — he checks many of the boxes we’ve seen appeal to Johnny Almaraz since he took over drafting in Philadelphia — but didn’t like him so much more than a guy like Moniak that putting up with the eventual positional traffic jam would be worth it. It’s silly to pretend in 2016, a year in which we’ve seen many fast-rising college bats reach the big leagues at unprecedented speeds for the modern game, that need should be completely ignored in the MLB Draft. Should you go best player available (whatever that means) when there’s a clear best player available sitting on your board? Of course. But if things are muddled and different voices are championing different prospects, the composition of your big league club and organizational depth chart absolutely should come into play. Why shouldn’t it matter? I know the situation is very different, but it brings to mind what has happened to one of the other rebuilding teams in Philadelphia in recent years. I’m one of those Cult of Hinkie devotees (shocker, right?), but even I can’t fully understand how he (if it was him…still not entirely convinced there wasn’t strong ownership pressure that led him to Okafor, but maybe that’s just me being an apologist) thought the accumulation of assets (a good thing) could withstand the real life consequences of drafting three straight centers. Now they are left with a problem that can only be solved via trading a depressed asset (bad) or watching attrition and/or injury work things out for them (also bad). The Phillies could have put themselves in a similar spot with a potential Senzel, Maikel Franco, and Scott Kingery playing time triangle. The counter to all of this is that projecting a ballplayer’s future is hard and patience will eventually win out. Since June, Franco has struggled, Senzel has taken off, and Kingery has been up and down (more up than down, though he ended on a relative low note in AA). Maybe you’d be forced to move Franco for less than he’s worth a year from now when Senzel is ready to take over, but you’d a) still be getting something for Franco, and b) you’d have the guy you want playing third every day after all. Would a team with Senzel and whatever they got for Franco be better in the long run than a team with Franco and Moniak? We’ll see.
3. I still would have taken Groome with the first pick. As frustrating as he was to watch at times this past spring, it was still clear that what he has you just can’t teach. My alternate timeline has Groome and Nolan Jones as the 1-2 high school punch at the top of the draft for the Phillies. Shockingly enough, nobody from the Phillies asked my opinion on the matter. Hopefully, Moniak, Kevin Gowdy, Groome, and Jones go on to long, successful big league careers, rendering this entire hypothetical moot.
4. The player Moniak was most compared to during the draft process, Christian Yelich, was six months older than Moniak when drafted. Yelich went on to spend his entire first season tearing up Low-A. That got him recognized as a top fifty or so prospect (on average) on a combined ranking from Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, and MLB.com. If Moniak does what Yelich did in his full season debut, I don’t know how you could reasonably keep him out of the top ten heading into 2018. Not that prospect rankings matter all that much, but national recognition certainly doesn’t hurt. That’s especially true when it comes to a player’s trade value…which we’ll get to later. Anyway, from that point in his career on Yelich was a level-to-level player before skipping AAA altogether and making the leap to the big leagues in his age-21 season. That would mean Lakewood for Moniak in 2017, Clearwater in 2018 (AFL after that), and a half-season in Reading before getting the call to Philadelphia in July 2019. Aggressive to be sure and yeah yeah yeah I know that’s not how comps work, but still fun to dream on. Clock is ticking, Mickey.
5. Speaking of minor league assignments, the same glut you’ll read about below concerning starting pitchers in the system also applies to outfielders. Moniak is a lock to begin next year in Lakewood, but figuring out the pieces around him takes some serious mental gymnastics. Moniak should presumably be flanked by his former GCL teammates, Jhailyn Ortiz and Josh Stephen. That part is easy enough, at least from where I’m sitting. They’ll also have to find at bats for Jesus Alastre and Malvin Matos. Then there’s sixth round pick David Martinelli, a quality hitter potentially capable of double-jumping his way to Clearwater. Those plans might have been foiled, however, by Martinelli’s lackluster pro debut in short-season ball. That might be for the best considering the glut of talent in High-A. Cornelius Randolph, Jose Pujols, and Jiandido Tromp are the headliners, but guys like Cord Sandberg and Herlis Rodriguez are still interesting enough to warrant steady time if possible. Then there’s the question of figuring out what to do with Zack Coppola and Mark Laird, two players seen as organizational types at the onset of their careers who have hit their way (albeit with no power) into some degree of meaningful prospect consideration. You could bump one or both of those guys to a thin Reading outfield (Carlos Tocci, Aaron Brown, Joey Curletta, Derek Campbell) depending on their apparent readiness this spring. There’s a refreshing amount of options for the Phillies for the first time in what feels like a lifetime.
6. Adam Eaton and Christian Yelich were some of the pre-draft names mentioned when discussing Moniak. Some post-draft digging revealed three additional comps worth passing along. These are from two different sources who saw Moniak play down in Florida this summer. One called him a “Jackie Bradley/Andrew Benintendi type,” but with more functional speed on offense. Bold. The other one was a lefthanded AJ Pollock, a somewhat ironic comp (or not, I give up on knowing what that word really means anymore) because that was one of the ideas I threw out there for Benintendi in his draft year. Would you take that for a first overall pick? I think it’s an emphatic YES, caveats about the imperfect nature of comps and all expected developmental trials and tribulations acknowledged.
7. You can search the site for updated information — or just look below to see the final pre-draft notes piece I wrote about Moniak in June — but I thought it would be more interesting to look back at the first time I wrote about Moniak here. The following is from December 2015 just before the Moniak vs Blake Rutherford battles began…
The extra bit of youth isn’t what gives Moniak the edge for me, but it certainly doesn’t hurt. What separates Moniak at this present moment is his ability to hit the ball hard everywhere. Sometimes simplistic analysis works. The manner in which Moniak sprays line drives and deep flies to all fields resembles something a ten-year veteran who flirts with batting titles season after season does during BP. Trading off a little bit of Rutherford’s power for Moniak’s hit tool and approach (both in his mindfulness as a hitter and his plate discipline) are worth it for me. Of course, check back with me in a few months…I had Meadows ahead of Frazier for a long time before giving in to the latter’s arm, power, and approach (as a whole-fields power hitter, not necessarily as an OBP machine). History may yet repeat itself, but I’ll take Moniak for now.
8. It’s fun to imagine a future outfield in Philadelphia with Cornelius Randolph, Moniak, and Dylan Cozens (note: this is for entertainment purposes only and not a prediction as the Phillies are currently well-stocked with high-variance outfielders, so predicting which three will make it is damn near impossible at this point) where one outfielder (Cozens) stands to double up the combined power output of his outfield partners. I wonder how many times one outfielder had twice the total home runs of the other two starting outfielders in big league history. Probably more than I think. Barry Bonds hit 3.65 times as many homers as Calvin Murray and Armando Rios in 2001. It dips to around 2.5 times if you sub in Marvin Bernard for Murray. All of Bonds’s fellow outfielders (starter, backup, whatever) combined for 51 dingers that year. 73 for Bonds, 51 for all other Giants outfielders. That seems crazy to me. Turns out my hunch that it’s not all that rare to have one outfielder double up on two outfielders is correct, so feel free to email me about a full refund for the thirty seconds of reading you’ve just wasted. If you’re the curious type, you might be interested in my quick research focused on the best power season for outfielders on the all-time top ten home run list. Turns out every one of them doubled up their outfield mates at least once in their career. Hank Aaron did it in 1969 (44 HR to 21 HR), Babe Ruth did in 1927 (60 to 14), Mays did it in 1965 (52 to 13), Griffey did it in 1998 (56 to 27), and Sosa also did it in 1998 (66 to 33). Some of those figures are dependent on which player Baseball Reference deemed the starter at a position, but the general idea remains the same. Now obviously all of those players were literally the very best at hitting home runs in the history of the sport, so, yeah, keep that in mind as well. Wait, what were we talking about again? Right, Mickey Moniak…
9. Here’s the last thing I posted about the eventual first overall pick before the draft got rolling…
OF Mickey Moniak (La Costa Canyon HS, California): plus bat speed; legit plus hit tool; above-average to plus speed; pretty swing; average raw power; great approach; hits it everywhere; average arm; massive improvements to arm and bat this spring; ESPN comp: Trenton Clark; BA comp: Christian Yelich and Steve Finley; have heard Adam Eaton; really like Sam Monroy’s Joe Mauer swing comp; defense and hit tool make him a very good prospect, development of functional power and a more refined approach (with a great willingness to work deeper counts) could make him a star; FAVORITE; LHH; 6-2, 190 pounds
10. I made a non-public prediction last year via email to a pal that Cornelius Randolph would grow up to be the centerpiece of a trade to Oakland. The Phillies would land one of the final pieces needed in their return to glory, staff ace Sonny Gray. That prediction now seems…off. You might think that would discourage me from trading away another recent first round pick, but my deep love of making terrible roster predictions simply can not be stopped. So, here we go: the Angels will make Mike Trout available next offseason and, thanks in large part to his Philadelphia or bust request, Mickey Moniak becomes the big piece sent to the Angels to make it work.
2.42 – RHP Kevin Gowdy
A minor injury cost Kevin Gowdy (22) some time in his debut run as a professional, but his out-of-sight first few months in the organization should not diminish any of the excitement Phillies fans had for this guy back in early June. Gowdy is the real deal. The pre-draft report on him sums up why…
RHP Kevin Gowdy (Santa Barbara HS, California): 86-92 FB with sink, 94-95 peak; plus FB command; average 78-82 CU, above-average upside; well above-average 77-84 CB/SL, plus upside; ample deception; very good overall command; love his delivery; wise beyond his years on the mound, can look like a college pitcher mowing down overmatched competition on his best days; FAVORITE; 6-4, 170 pounds
In April, I went in on Gowdy a little bit in the comments…
Love Gowdy. Command, deception, and frame are all really promising. Puts his fastball where he wants it better than most of his college-aged peers. Velocity is good and breaking ball looks legit. And on top of all that, his delivery is a thing of beauty to me. I normally leave mechanics alone — don’t care what it looks long as long as the pitcher can repeat it consistently — but Gowdy’s stand out as being particularly efficient. I’m a big fan. Likely a top five prep pitcher in this class.
He wound up as my sixth overall high school pitching prospect in this class. Only Jay Groome, Riley Pint, Ian Anderson (a similar prospect to Gowdy in many ways), Braxton Garrett, and Alex Speas finished higher. Getting the sixth best high school pitching prospect in this class with the forty-second overall pick is a very good thing for Philadelphia. Whatever games they had to play with wink-wink signing bonus agreements was worth it. Gowdy has future postseason starter upside.
It’ll be fascinating to see where many of the experts rank Gowdy and Sixto Sanchez this offseason on Phillies lists. Franklyn Kilome is pretty obviously the best pitching prospect in the system — this felt obvious to me even before the Jake Thompson promotion, but what do I know — so the real battle will be for second place in the Philadephia pitching prospect pipeline pecking order. I think I might go full hypocrite and give Gowdy the edge based largely on the height/weight bias that I’ve tried to fight for years on this site. Sanchez has the bigger fastball (92-96, 99 peak), the more advanced present changeup (close call), and arguably the more impressive breaking ball (a POWER slider deserving of all CAPS that has been up to 92) at times. He also has the benefit of a season of dominant stateside ball in his back pocket. Gowdy gets the obvious edge in frame (6-4, 170ish), amateur pedigree (though it’s fair to ask how much this matters once pro games begin), fastball command, and mechanics (something I only point out in extreme cases…I think Gowdy’s delivery, in terms of both his ability to repeat it and the extra layer of deception it causes hitters to contend with, is that nice). I’d like to conclude that it’s ultimately a matter of preferring ceiling (Sanchez) or floor (Gowdy), but I think doing so undersells the other guy in each facet of his game. Assuming reasonably good health, Sanchez is a guy you can easily begin to dream on excelling in a late-inning relief role. Gowdy, meanwhile, is no slouch in the upside department; he’s a little bit light on velocity to perhaps think of him as a future ace, but believing in him as a future excellent number two doesn’t seem crazy to me. Maybe that’s the real conclusion here: both guys are potentially great, so let’s just enjoy the ride.
3.78 – SS Cole Stobbe
If you’re the type who values comps, then Cole Stobbe (152) is your man. Perfect Game dropped pre-draft comps of Jed Lowrie and Mark Ellis on him. I’ve always gotten a Brian Dozier vibe, though, to be fair, that was before 40-homer Brian Dozier came into our lives. Stobbe’s relatively high floor (for a HS hitter, anyway) fits a larger Phillies draft trend of selecting exactly this kind of player in 2016. Obviously Mickey Moniak got it started, but later picks like Stobbe and eleventh rounder Josh Stephen officially make the high character, advanced hit tool, well-rounded high school prospect a thing with the Phillies. Stobbe’s card is full of future five’s: hit tool, power, speed, and arm (maybe a touch more here) are all right around average tools. Many overlook the value of what an average tool really is; in Stobbe’s case, the idea of him being a well-rounded high floor prospect (again, relative to his teenage peers) sells his actual ceiling short. There’s a reason that Stobbe’s game elicited comparisons to so many above-average big league infielders. He brings an unusually mature whole-field approach to the table and a great deal of strength is packed into his 6-1, 200 pound frame. His intriguing defensive skill set makes him playable at short for now, but I see him as being particularly interesting at either third or second, my preferred long-term destination for him. Depending on where you slot him on the diamond, he’s either the best (3B) or second-best (SS behind JP Crawford, 2B behind Scott Kingery) prospect at that position in the system.
4.107 – LHP JoJo Romero
The Phillies won big betting on Yavapai Roughrider Kenny Giles in the seventh round in 2011. They’ve gone back to the well in selecting JoJo Romero (316) in 2016. The two young pitchers are about as different as can be. Romero is a highly athletic lefthander who gets by with a pair of average offspeed pitches (slider and change) that can flash better when his back is against the wall. His fastball velocity doesn’t quite reach the same heights as “100 Miles Giles,” but it’s average to above-average (88-92, 94 peak) for a lefty with his build. I didn’t have Romero as a fourth round value on my personal board (saw him more as a potential slightly overslot eleventh round type), but the logic behind the pick is sound. Romero has the stuff, pitchability, and track record to suggest he can continue to start as a professional. Whether he eventually has to shift to the pen or not remains to be seen, but I’m coming around to liking his chances to fulfill his back of the rotation destiny.
Romero’s long-term prospects are one thing, but I’m just as intrigued about his 2017 assignment. It’s easy to mentally pair him with Cole Irvin — “college” lefties with fairly similar stuff selected in back-to-back rounds (same bonus!) who both started together in Williamsport — but that ignores the fact that Romero is a whopping 2.5 years younger than Irvin. Pushing him to Clearwater would be exciting, but it seems more likely he’ll get treated more like a high school draftee and begin at Lakewood. Although, even that could pose a problem. Simply put, something has to give when it comes to the Phillies low-minors pitching surplus. By my preliminary count, there are 21 potential starting pitching options ready for full-season ball that will need to find a way to share ten to twelve potential rotation openings to start the year. Clearwater (High-A) could have Franklyn Kilome, Alberto Tirado, Drew Anderson, Cole Irvin, Shane Watson, Jose Taveras, Harold Arauz, Tyler Gilbert, and Luke Leftwich. Lakewood (Low-A) is even more loaded. They’ll have to find homes for names like Sixto Sanchez, Kevin Gowdy, Adonis Medina, Edgar Garcia, Bailey Falter, Seranthony Dominguez, Nick Fanti, Mauricio Llovera, Julian Garcia, Ranger Suarez, and Felix Paulino. I don’t think this is pie-in-the-sky local guy optimism, either. All of these names are legitimate prospects, though admittedly some at the back end of each list might be best served switching to relief down the line.
Even if they get aggressive with some of the Clearwater guys (Anderson, Watson, and Tirado?), there’s no real clear place to put them yet in AA where Tyler Viza, Thomas Eshelman, and Elniery Garcia, among others, are set to begin the year. The bullpen is always an option for some, as is being left behind in extended for some of the younger arms (a less than ideal solution to be sure), but this pile-up is real. So squeezing Romero into either rotation is going to be a challenge. His stuff and draft pedigree make it extremely likely (99%, give or take) that they’ll find a way, but I couldn’t tell you at which pitcher’s expense. Too many prospects for the Phillies…who would have ever thought?
5.137 – LHP Cole Irvin
Cole Irvin (289) does a lot of things well but no one thing exceptionally well. Players of this ilk are often undervalued on draft day — I’ve certainly been guilty of underrating them in the past, though I’m not sure that’s necessarily something to amend going forward — but the Phillies obviously liked what they saw out of the Oregon lefthander enough to pop him in the fifth round. As much as I personally like to see a knockout pitch (or exceptional command or athleticism or performance indicators), I can at least see the merit of taking a well-rounded veteran arm like Irvin. We’ve seen a lot of guys with similar scouting profiles wind up as better big league players than minor league prospects due in large part to making their “jack of all trades, master of none” tag obsolete through hard work, the right coaching, and unlocked physical gifts. If you can be a “jack of all trades, master of one” pitcher, then you’ve got a chance to outplay expectations at every turn.
Maybe that’ll be Irvin. Maybe not. His debut was certainly encouraging. In fact, it brought to mind a decent little organizational comp. To the numbers…
7.21 K/9 and 2.35 BB/9 in 53.2 IP (2.01 ERA)
7.29 K/9 and 1.58 BB/9 in 45.2 IP (1.97 ERA)
Adam Morgan’s debut is on top, Irvin’s debut is on bottom. Morgan was the 120th pick in the draft. Irvin was selected with pick 137. If we take the comparison to the next logical step, it’s worth noting that Morgan made a very successful double-jump to Clearwater in his first full season. I think there’s little chance Morgan doesn’t start next season with the Threshers as well.
Here’s a quick take on Irvin from April 2016 that gets to the heart of what kind of pitcher I think he’ll be…
Krook’s teammate with the Ducks, Cole Irvin, has seen his stuff rebound this year close to his own pre-TJ surgery levels. I was off Irvin early last season when he was more upper-80s with a loopy curve, but he is now capable of getting it back up to 92 (still sits 85-90) with a sharper upper-70s slider that complements his firmer than before curve and consistently excellent 78-81 change. It’s back of the rotation type starter stuff if it continues to come back.
6.167 – OF David Martinelli
David Martinelli (216) got off to a surprisingly slow start to his pro career, but that doesn’t obscure the fact that he’s one of this draft’s finer mid-tier (18th at the position here) college outfield prospects. His scouting blurb on this site said this about his game: “shows all five tools as consistently as almost any college hitter in this class.” Now that’s a fairly bold claim — albeit one with a key qualifier snuck in there — but it speaks to Martinelli’s extremely well-rounded game. Athletically, he checks every box with four of the five tools consistently showing at least average or better. His lone underwhelming tool has been his raw hit tool. Fortunately, he’s made some very encouraging progress in the batter’s box over the years: his BB/K ratios have moved from 28/59 to 22/67 to 24/30 from freshman to sophomore to junior year. If those gains can be maintained and he can keep up his brand of hard contact at the next level, Martinelli could have a long, fruitful career as a fourth outfielder.
Also, his name makes me want apple juice. So that’s reason enough to root for him.
Final tangential thought that can be skipped if you’re more into learning about what players the Phillies drafted than whatever it is we’ll categorize this as: Martinelli is the first of three Dallas Baptist Patriots selected by the Phillies in this draft. It seems that taking multiple players from the same school is something done by just about every team at some point in every draft. Logically, it makes sense: good teams have good players that are covered more frequently than other less good teams with less good players. I won’t dispute any of that. However, it does get me a little bit curious about the actual amount of canvassing that goes on by big league clubs tasked with covering as much ground as possible. My weird analogy for this takes us to Hollywood. I find acting silly. It’s pretending to be somebody else, something I considered a lot of fun when I was four but quickly grew out of. I can still enjoy a great performance, so maybe I’m just a big old hypocrite but I generally don’t respect the profession. One of the many gripes about acting is how actors are chosen for given roles. Nine times out of ten, it’s more about getting the right “look” rather than finding the “best” actor. That’s why I like sports: they might not perfect, but they represent the closest thing to a meritocracy in our present day society. If you’re good, you play. Anyway, Hollywood doesn’t feel the same way to me. Consider the top twenty most famous actors in the world. How many would you consider great at what they do? How many would actually rank in the top twenty solely on merit? Take somebody like Scarlett Johansson. Or a Gerard Butler. You really mean to tell me that they are two of the very best actors in a world of over seven billion people? There’s no way. They had the opportunity and the look, they took advantage of an opportunity (fair or not), and they let inertia do the rest. I’m very confident when I’m watching Major League Baseball that I’m watching 750 of the very best people on the planet doing their thing. Can’t feel the same way about TV or movies.
All of this gets us back to the idea of how odd spending 7.5% of your draft on players from one university comes across. I like Martinelli. I like Darick Hall. I like the unsigned Camden Duzenack. I have no problem with each individual pick. I understand the reality (good players, good team, trust in area scout, more frequent looks, etc.) that led the Phillies to tripling up at a school, too. However, I find it hard to believe that they deemed Martinelli, Hall, and Duzenack three of their forty favorite realistic targets in this draft. It’s just a little bit of a wake-up call to counter those who often speak about how infallible pro teams are in their amateur scouting process. Teams have tons of information at their disposal, but it is a a finite amount. There are limits to what they can possibly cover and sometimes shortcuts are taken. This isn’t a knock on the Phillies (or every other MLB team that does the same thing), but rather a tiny attempt to chip away at the long-standing logical fallacy that bogs down many conversations about sports. So many rush to appeal to authority when it comes to any sports-related disagreement — if the pro team thinks so, then it must be true — instead of trying to understand individual situations on a deeper level. Pro teams know a lot, obviously, but if you’re only argument to defend a specific move is “well, they must know what they are doing…” then maybe it’s all right to wonder if they actually do know in this singular instance. Nobody likes the smug know-it-all sports analyst who insists at every turn that he or she is more qualified to run a team than those who actually do so. But those who defend pro teams on the basis of “well, THEY are the professionals so they are automatically smarter, cooler, and handsomer than you nerds who dare question them” need to chill out, too.
Anyway, since I feel guilty my tangent is longer than the actual Martinelli content above, here’s a quick note on him from March 2016…
David Martinelli is another quality Dallas Baptist outfielder who has shown all five tools and plenty of athleticism. His power has always been the main draw, but his improved approach makes him even more appealing. I’m in on Martinelli.
7.197 – C Henri Lartigue
Criticizing a team’s selections in the MLB Draft is a tricky thing. Scouting amateur talent is a challenging endeavor, and one that ultimately generates more opinions about more players than any rational human being could ever effectively process. This country (plus Canada and Puerto Rico!) is just too big to have a strong opinion about every draft-worthy player, yet that’s exactly what weirdos like me set out to do. I don’t think it’s wrong to at least try to have some general feelings about as many players as possible, so long as one understands the limitations inherent in the process. This is a long way of saying that I wasn’t all that enamored with the Philadelphia Phillies seventh round pick. Lartigue is fine — he’s a good athlete for the position with a strong arm and some power upside who’s better days could very well be ahead of him — but he was the 29th ranked college catcher on my board for a reason. Tyler Lawrence, Michael Tinsley, Gavin Stupienski, Jack Kruger, and Tyler Lancaster, among others, would have been my preferred choice. Heck, even Keith Skinner and his $10,000 price tag might have been the better option.
That said, I don’t think it was a “bad” pick. I don’t think Lartigue is a “bad” prospect. It’s not what I would have done based on what I’ve seen, heard, and read, but, let’s be real, that doesn’t amount to much in the grand scheme of things. Firm opinions on seventh round picks are part of what make following the draft fun (if you can’t have an opinion, then what’s the point of all this, right?), but unflinching priggish opinions are a bummer. Acceptance that different sets of eyes can see two entirely different futures for a young ballplayer is a freeing thing. Maybe I’m right. Maybe the Phillies, a team with far more combined resources, brain power, and experience than myself are right. Maybe the very idea of “right” is off the mark here; the blurred lines between a singular amateur evaluation and all subsequent professional development muddle the process/results matrix a great deal. As a native Philadelphian and a fan of literally all draft prospects, I hope it works out for the Phillies and Lartigue.
8.227 – RHP Grant Dyer
I like the pick of Grant Dyer a lot and not just because of a pro debut as good as any reliever in this class. Dyer checks a lot of college draft sleeper boxes that are often overlooked (I speak from experience here) when trying to find a college draft sleeper: early contributor (69 IP as freshman), lots of big game experience (UCLA is pretty good, I’ve heard), and, most interesting to me, a draft year shift in role that benefited the team but not the player’s pro prospects. Dyer’s stuff took a predictably dip in 2016 as he was asked to do more than he’d ever done before by pitching out of the rotation rather than the bullpen. This turned some short-sighted thinkers off from him — I’ll note that he wasn’t ranked in my top 500, so feel free to do with that what you may — but those, like the Phillies front office, who stuck with him look pretty smart after his sterling debut back in his comfortable relief role. Dyer’s stuff jumps from 88-92 as a starter to 92-94 in relief (up to 95) with an outstanding curve (flashes plus) holding up no matter how he’s used. I thought his mid-80s changeup had a chance to develop into a pretty nice third pitch with continued use, but the firmness of the pitch combined with his diminished velocity as a starter caused him to more or less scrap it at UCLA. Changeup or not, Dyer’s 1-2 punch of two above-average pitches and impressive command should be his ticket to a long, successful career of middle relief.
9.257 – RHP Blake Quinn
I write these out of order for some reason and the Trevor Bettencourt pick has already been written, so feel free to scan down a little bit and read that one as a reasonable substitute for what I think about Blake Quinn. Both guys have missed bats in the past (9.32 K/9 for Quinn in 2016 at Cal State Fullerton), both guys have gone from one good baseball school to another (Quinn started at Fresno State), both guys sat out the 2015 season, both guys have had their bouts of wildness (4.32 BB/9 for Quinn this past college year), and both are fastball-leaning relief arms. Quinn was taken sixteen rounds ahead of Bettencourt for some good reasons — better stuff, better body (6-5, 210), longer track record — but the two are closer than that gap might suggest.
10.287 – RHP Julian Garcia
I knew very little about Julian Garcia before the draft, so learning more about him in the months that followed has been a lot of fun. I’m in on this guy. Garcia has a starter’s repertoire and a history of backing it up on the mound. My only concern about him at this point is finding him innings in the Phillies crowded low minors. Very slick pick in the tenth round.
11.317 – OF Josh Stephen
I don’t know what to make of Josh Stephen (182), one of the 2016 MLB Draft’s most divisive prospects. Those who like him point to his above-average or better speed, mature approach at the plate, burgeoning lefthanded pop, and solid chance to remain a center fielder over the long haul. Those who are more bearish on him paint him as more of a future reserve outfielder good enough to hang in center only occasionally with not quite the kind of all-around offensive game (average speed, power, and on-base skills) to make it in a corner. Most, however, do agree that Stephen can really hit. I’ve had more than one contact tell me he’s a future .300 hitter in the big leagues. If that’s the case, almost all of that other stuff won’t matter beyond being icing on the cake; a .300 hitter in a corner with modest power and speed is still pretty damn useful. If you’re a believer in the rest of his game coming through, then an above-average regular with sneaky star upside isn’t out of the question.
12.347 – RHP Justin Miller
Coincidental or not, the Phillies selection of Justin Miller is the first of a back-to-back run on high school pitchers out of California with only junior college commitments keeping them from the pros. Miller has an upper-80s fastball that has gotten better over the years, plus a 6-4, 180 pound frame; both of those things suggest more growth to come, at least potentially. He’s a long way away and a long shot even if things break right, but a worthwhile shot in round twelve.
13.377 – RHP Andrew Brown
Andrew Brown is a little bit of a post-tenth round $100,000 bonus prep pitching oddity in that he’s got more present stuff than long-term projection. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it is somewhat unusual. Look no further than the pick directly above this one for a small slice of evidence. We spend so much time talking up teenage arms with physical upside remaining (with good reason, I should add; scouting and development is all about playing the long game) that the guys with more of the “now” stuff can get overlooked. That’s part of my rationale for personally overlooking Brown before the draft. Now that I am looking at him, I see a fairly generic (a term many assume is a slight, but not necessarily so) righthanded pitching prospect — his present 88-92 fastball MPH band is by far the most common in my scouting notes — with average or slightly below height, some room to fill out his 180 pound frame, and underdeveloped yet playable secondary stuff. The good news for Brown is that the opportunity is going to be there, at least in the short-term. International prospects and 2017 draftees will make the short-season leagues a lot more crowded next summer than they currently look now, but it still has to be nice for some of the youngest prospects in the system to see very little in their way presently at the GCL and New York-Penn League levels. Innings will be there for Brown, Kyle Young, and Justin Miller for the taking.
14.407 – 1B Darick Hall
I really like Philadelphia’s selection of Darick Hall (219) in the fourteenth round. It might be asking for too much, but a breakout at Lakewood a la Rhys Hoskins in early 2015 is within the realm of possibility for the former Dallas Baptist two-way star. Hoskins kept it going at Clearwater later that season and then cemented his status as a “real” prospect in Reading this year, so the bar for Hall is high but not completely unreachable. For entertainment purposes only, here’s what Hall (top) and Hoskins (bottom) did as college juniors…
.298/.417/.615 with 30 BB/49 K in 218 AB
.319/.428/.573 with 39 BB/31 K in 213 AB
Hall gets the slight edge in power (plus raw), though the Hoskins of today would surely give that a run for its money. I’m inclined to give Hoskins the edge as a hitter, but it’s really close. Approach is a win for Hoskins, but with the caveat that the move away from the mound could help Hall see some gains in this area. On balance, I like the Hoskins of 2014 a little more than I do Hall today, but it’s close enough that the wishful thinking that Hall can be one of baseball’s next under-the-radar first base prospects feels warranted.
16.467 – C Brett Barbier
If Brett Barbier can catch, he’s worth following. If he can hang in the outfield, he’s still fairly intriguing. If he’s a first baseman, he’ll need to find an extra offensive gear to keep climbing the ladder. The reports I have on his glove behind the dish are mixed, so we’ll have to wait and see what his defensive future holds. I do like his bat, wherever he winds up. He’s a little like Danny Zardon in that his most realistic outcome is as an organizational player capable of playing a variety of spots while piling up big hits to help his minor league clubs win games. You need guys like that.
17.497 – 3B Danny Zardon
My preliminary notes on Danny Zardon (457) after his first professional season wrapped up: “great debut, wish he did it in Williamsport.” With a few more days to reflect on his year, I’d say…well, pretty much the same thing. Zardon’s tools (average power and speed, solid glove with an above-average arm), pedigree (one-time LSU recruit), and junior year performance (.318/.420/.613 with 39 BB/45 K in 217 AB at Nova Southeastern) add up to make him far more interesting than your typical seventeenth round selection. There’s a chance he makes it as a bat-first utility infielder and a smaller chance he keeps hitting enough to be a league average starting third baseman. If neither upside is ultimately reached, he should still serve a very useful purpose as a quintessential minor league “professional hitter” capable of filling in at multiple spots on the diamond.
18.527 – RHP Jake Kelzer
The run on righthanded relievers started very strong for the Phillies with the selection of Jake Kelzer (175) in the eighteenth round. My very aggressive pre-draft ranking (sixth round equivalency) speaks to what I believe is major upside as a reliever. Beware the too tall pitcher, they say. It took me too long, but I’ve finally listened. Big guys jump out at you in person, on the tube, and on the listed roster, but the track record for pitchers over 6-6 isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. That’s all based on observation and not data, so feel free to dismiss those conclusions if you like. Tall pitchers tend to have more difficulty coordinating their bodies and uncoordinated bodies tend to have command issues. It’s practically science, right? Beware the too tall pitcher.
But this time it’ll be different! In all seriousness, Kelzer is such a great athlete that many of the concerns associated with too tall pitchers are less likely to come into play. Apparently I’ve been banging this drum for a while…
Kelzer is the rare big pitcher (6-8, 235) with the fluidity and athleticism in his movements as a smaller man. I’ve yet to hear/see of a true offspeed pitch of note (he’s got the good hard slider and a promising slower curve), but something a touch softer (change, splitter) would be nice.
Jake Kelzer is an incredible athlete who just so happens to be 6-8, 235 pounds. Those two things alone are cool, but together are really damn exciting. Enough of a fastball (88-92, 94 peak…but could play up in shorter bursts) and a nasty hard slider (87-88) give him a chance to be a quick-moving reliever, but the overall package could be worth trying as a starter first.
I don’t know if the Phillies plan to try Kelzer as a starter. Doing the math on their current starting pitching, I think it’s probably doubtful. A pessimist would be bummed at this likely development, but I’ll choose to look on the bright side and champion Kelzer as a potential surprisingly swift mover through the system as a reliever. My pre-draft infatuation with him looks a bit silly in hindsight, but a quality reliever is a quality reliever.
19.557 – RHP Will Hibbs
From one tall rightander to another, the Phillies go from Jake Kelzer to Will Hibbs. The Lamar product stands in at 6-7, 235 pounds — a whole inch shorter than Kelzer, so he’s basically tiny, right? — with a solid heater (88-93), better than expected change, and a pair of usable breaking balls. His senior year was strong (9.07 K/9 and 2.73 BB/9 in 96.IP of 3.27 ERA ball) and his pro debut kept it going. This is about all you can ask for in a nineteenth round middle relief prospect.
20.587 – 1B Caleb Eldridge
Caleb Eldrige, a big first baseman from Cowley County CC (via Oklahoma State), has the power you’d hope for in a 6-4, 235 pound human with more speed than you’d expect. Copious amounts of swing-and-miss keep him from being much more than a lottery ticket, but power is always worth gambling on.
21.617 – LHP Jonathan Hennigan
I wouldn’t call any of the late-round lefthanders signed by the Phillies better than top five round selections JoJo Romero and Cole Irvin, but I think it’s fair to say they are more intriguing on the whole. Kyle Young (6-10), Alexander Kline (6-5), and Jonathan Hennigan (6-4) all have enough height to be Sixers. Hennigan’s frame (6-4, 180 with room to fill out), present fastball (88-92), and ever-improving breaking ball make him a particularly worthwhile mid-round get. My semi-bold prediction for the Hennigan-Young-Kline triumvirate: two of the three will pitch in the big leagues one day.
22.647 – LHP Kyle Young
A 6-10, 220 pound overslot lefthander who already lives 87-91 with impressive athleticism, repeatable mechanics, and unusually strong early control (2 BB in 27 IP)? Consider my interest sufficiently piqued.
24.707 – RHP Tyler Hallead
The Phillies have liked guys from College of Southern Nevada in the past. That’s all I’ve got to explain the otherwise underwhelming Tyler Hallead pick.
25.737 – RHP Trevor Bettencourt
The well-traveled Trevor Bettencourt — UC Santa Barbara by way of Tennessee — is your fairly typical low-90s reliever capable of cranking it a little bit higher than that in big moments. His final college year showed the kind of impressive strikeout rate (9.66 K/9) and questionable control (5.21 BB/9) that have been a part of his up-and-down college career going back to 2013. A long shot reliever like this is fine in the twenty-fifth round.
26.767 – OF Tyler Kent
Tyler Kent retired after hitting .333/.333/.444 in 9 PA. If you’re going to go out, that’s not a bad way to do it. Get a little bonus, play in a couple games, knock two singles and a double, and leave on a high note. He now has something interesting to point to on future résumés and a fun bar story.
28.827 – RHP Jordan Kurokawa
His last name makes me think of this. That’s something, I guess.
29.857 – LHP Alexander Kline
I didn’t have anything on Alexander Kline, the big lefty from Nova Southeastern (same school as Danny Zardon, FWIW), before the draft. Between June and right this very second, however, public reports on his velocity have trickled in and almost all are positive. Getting ai power-armed lefthanded big league reliever, as many I’ve checked in with see Kline developing into, in the twenty-ninth round would be a coup.
31.917 – RHP Tyler Frohwirth
23-year-old righthander Tyler Frohwirth had ten saves in his debut season in the Gulf Coast League. If you can figure out the good and the bad found in that sentence, then you know a little something something about prospecting. I’m personally still scratching my head a bit about what the Phillies could have seen out of an overaged college reliever with a career 6.75 K/9 and 4.50 ERA in 32.0 career innings at Minnesota State. I’m hoping they saw something special in his funky delivery and didn’t burn a thirty-first round pick on a legacy guy — father Todd was a thirteenth round pick of the Phillies in 1984 — but I suppose only time will tell. Between Frohwirth and Alex Wojciechowski, really great year for the area guy in Minnesota, though.
32.947 – C Daniel Garner
Big power, big arm. That’s the short version of Daniel Garner’s game. Interesting (or not), one-time Mississippi State Bulldog Garner is the second Phillies draft pick that transferred out of an SEC school.
34.1007 – OF Luke Maglich
Luke Maglich has too much swing-and-miss for me, but his size, power, and arm strength give him some universal appeal. He’s about as long as any of the late-round long shots signed by the Phillies this year.
For fun, here’s a Phillies top thirty with 2016 draftees showing up in bold…
- SS JP Crawford
- OF Mickey Moniak
- C Jorge Alfaro
- OF Dylan Cozens
- OF Roman Quinn
- 1B Rhys Hoskins
- SP Franklyn Kilome
- OF Jhailyn Ortiz
- OF Cornelius Randolph
- 2B Scott Kingery
- SP Sixto Sanchez
- SP Kevin Gowdy
- OF Nick Williams
- SS Cole Stobbe
- SP Nick Pivetta
- C Deivi Grullon
- C Andrew Knapp
- SP Drew Anderson
- OF Andrew Pullin
- SP Bailey Falter
- SP Alberto Tirado
- SP Edgar Garcia
- OF Josh Stephen
- SP Elniery Garcia
- SP Mark Appel
- SP Ricardo Pinto
- SP Adonis Medina
- SP Thomas Eshelman
- OF Jose Pujols
- SS Jonathan Guzman
Just missing the cut were names like Cole Irvin, Arquimedes Gamboa, Victor Arano, Ben Lively, Tyler Viza, Jose Taveras, David Martinelli, and JoJo Romero. What the system might lack for sure-thing future stars it makes it up in crazy depth. I’ll take it.
Unsigned Prospects and Where You Can Find Them in 2017
Alex Wojciechowski (FA), Carter Bins (Fresno State), Dante Baldelli (Boston College), Trevor Hillhouse (Auburn), Logan Davidson (Clemson), Trey Morris (TCU), James Ziemba (Duke), Mac Sceroler (Southeastern Louisiana), Jack Klein (Stanford), Davis Agle (Spartanburg Methodist CC)
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.
- SS JP Crawford
- RHP Aaron Nola
- CF Roman Quinn
- CF Carlos Tocci
- SS Malquin Canelo
- 2B Scott Kingery
- OF Cornelius Randolph
- RHP Franklyn Kilome
- RHP Zach Eflin
- OF Kelly Dugan
- RHP Ben Lively
- C Andrew Knapp
- C Deivi Grullon
- CF Aaron Altherr
- RHP Ricardo Pinto
- LHP Yoel Mecias
- LHP Jesse Biddle
- OF Dylan Cozens
- OF Jose Pujols
- 1B Luis Encarnacion
- OF Greg Pickett
- LHP Matt Imhof
- SS Dylan Bosheers
- 1B Kyle Martin
- 1B Rhys Hoskins
- LHP Tom Windle
- C Gabriel Lino
- LHP Brandon Leibrandt
- CF Aaron Brown
- 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.
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?
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)
39.1164 – CF Griffin Morandini (Garnet Valley HS, Pennsylvania)
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
Philadelphia Phillies 2012 MLB Draft Review
Josh Ludy is a shining example of why college baseball is a smart option for some players. Ignoring the fact that he wasn’t a highly regarded prospect out of high school, signing at that point in his development would have been big trouble for Ludy’s career. It took him two years to get regular at bats for Baylor. When he finally got his big chance his junior year, his offensive output was met with an emphatic “meh.” Bet you didn’t think you could make “meh” emphatically, but you can. If Ludy had done what he had done in college in the pros, then the odds of him getting a pink tag in his locker at some point along the way would have been high. In college, however, you get more rope. Not a ton of rope, mind you, but more than in professional ball. With one more season to prove himself a legitimate professional talent, Ludy stepped up his game in a big way. That’s the good news for Ludy.
The counter-point to that heartwarming tale is the cruel reality that it is smart to beware college seniors who beat up on teenage arms fresh out of high school. When a college senior dominates Rookie ball, it is expected. Nobody raises an eyebrow when a grown man pummels teenage pitching. The competition at most major college conferences is comparable, especially when you look at most schools Friday/Saturday night starting pitchers. Ludy’s story is a good one, but there’s still a long way between the joy of a successful draft day and reaching the big leagues. He did a nice job in low-A Lakewood as a 22-year old, so perhaps the adjustments made over the years at Baylor have more meaning than initially thought. His story of perseverance makes him a fun guy to root for, in any case. I think the gains he has made as a hitter are legit, but it’ll be his glove, which ranges from adequate to unplayable on any given day, that determines his long range professional future. I like fellow college catcher Chad Carman and think he has value as an experienced backstop capable of guiding young pitching through the ups and downs of professional baseball. Whether or not he ever reaches the highest level remains to be seen – like any double-digit round prospect, it’s a long shot – but it seems likely he’ll provide value to whatever team he plays on regardless of what shows up in the box score.
Regular readers of the site know that I’m a big fan of comps. I think comps are a great way of bridging the gap between obsessive minor league and amateur baseball fans (that’s me and likely anybody reading this by choice) and casual big league only fans. A good comp gives a frame of reference – could be about tools, body type, mechanics, potential production, almost anything – that sheds light on prospects that often play in relative darkness. I understand the complaint that comps can create unrealistic expectations for players. I think that expectations on certain guys can get out of hand regardless of what I, or, more likely, anybody with a wider reach than I says about a particular prospect. Blaming the comp itself is an unnecessary copout. Expectations for prospects can be directly tied to what the industry leaders write. Comps or not, players ranked highly and praised publicly are viewed as future superstars who will hit the ground running from day one of their big league careers. If anything, I believe comps, when done responsibly, can actually help create a more realistic set of possible outcomes for any given player. Take the pre-draft note I heard on Chris Serritella. A scout who saw both players said that Serritella reminded him of Paul Goldschmidt at similar points in their respective development. If the reader’s take away from that is Serritella = Goldschmidt, then somewhere along the way the ball has been dropped. That was not the intention of the original note, but I can see why somebody might read Goldschmidt’s name in connection with Serritella and just run with the comp.
This is where it pays to be responsible whenever throwing out comps. I should have been clearer with the original note. There are some vague similarities between Serritella and Goldschmidt, but also some pretty huge differences (e.g. handedness). The comp originated based on what I had hoped was a fairly simple question: of all the college bat-only prospects in this year’s draft, which player could surprise in the same way Paul Goldschmidt once did? Serritella was the answer I received, but that doesn’t mean Serritella will ever necessarily achieve what Goldschmidt has. It is worth noting that Paul Goldschmidt wasn’t the Paul Goldschmidt we now know back when he was a draft prospect. Prospect development is weird and unpredictable, after all.
At the same age as Serritella, Goldschmidt socked 35 dingers in high-A (Cal League, but still), adding up to a total of 53 pro home runs to that point. Serritella has hit six homers in Rookie ball. I like Serritella because I’m a sucker for watching good power hitters hit, but it doesn’t take a genius to see he has a good amount of ground to make up if he ever wants to approach such a lofty comp. Luckily, he won’t have to turn himself into an everyday starter at first base to provide value as a fourth round pick. Serritella can have a long, fruitful career as a bench bat if he keeps up a good to very good yet not great hitting path. Or, more optimistically, Serritella could find himself in a first base timeshare where he can just mash righthanded pitching whenever the opportunity arises. Most teams shy away from platoons these days, especially at glamor hitting spots like first base, but that doesn’t really change how Serritella could potentially be useful. A smart team will find a way to utilize his talents, assuming he hits as expected.
William Carmona has serious power in his bat. Unfortunately, a below-average approach limits the utility of his one plus tool. His defensive shortcomings – bad in an outfield corner, worse at third base – lock him into first base over the long run. As an org guy who can help a minor league lineup win some games with his pop he’s fine, but very few players with his scouting profile ever reach the highest level. Honestly, I can’t think of any.
Cameron Perkins has a realistic floor of four-corners (LF/RF/3B/1B) bench bat, especially with the way he sees lefthanded pitching. The dearth of starting caliber big league third basemen makes him more of a prospect than he might otherwise be. If he gets his act together on defense – I say it like it is really as simple as that – then he has a chance to get regular time at the hot corner. I can see the future in Philadelphia now: a Cody Asche/Cameron Perkins platoon at third base. Third base has been an organizational black hole for almost fifteen years, so forgive me for fantasizing about Cody and Cameron mashing their way to the top together. I will say this: in much the same way Asche seemingly came out of nowhere this season, Perkins could do the same in 2013. I’m not crazy enough to predict that Perkins will go from Rookie ball to tearing up AA next year, but even suggesting the possibility is exciting. Perkins has some big time sleeper upside. For the record, Asche was the 2011 MLB Draft’s 170th best prospect (according to all-knowing me) while Perkins came in at 98th in 2012. That isn’t the best way to compare the two as draft prospects — last year’s draft had a lot more depth across the board – so I’ve included Asche’s brief pre-draft report below:
“Really like his approach, but have been underwhelmed by his overall package thus far” – that’s what I had in my notes re: Asche coming into the year. I’m happy to say that I’m no longer underwhelmed and now considered myself appropriately whelmed by his performance. I wasn’t alone in worrying that he wouldn’t stick at third coming into the year, but am now ready to go out on a limb and say I think his athleticism and instincts make him underrated at the position. Despite his very powerful throwing arm he’ll never be a good defender at third, but if his plus raw power would look really good if he can at least play at or around average defense as a pro.
Interesting to compare that to Perkins’ pre-draft report (found below). Here are their respective junior season park/schedule adjusted numbers for good measure:
Asche: .337/.437/.668 – 36 BB/39 K – 208 AB
Perkins: .406/.448/.613 – 12 BB/16 K – 217 AB
There’s not really a direct comparison to make between the two prospects, just some food for thought. Third base is a strength in the Phillies minor league system, if you can believe it. Keeping that in mind, I think Perkins could start the season in low-A Lakewood. If the Phillies aren’t as committed to keeping Perkins at third as I hope, then he could get challenged with the high-A Clearwater assignment, a la Asche last year. Maikel Franco should be getting the vast majority of time at third base for the Threshers, so Perkins would be best served in Lakewood if having him play third every day is the desired outcome. There will be an opening at AA Reading, but that’s a major stretch for a first full year starting assignment for a position player taken outside of the first round.
Tim Carver is a warm body who can catch the ball consistently at short. He’s not a big leaguer, but he can still give a professional organization some value. It never hurts having a sure-handed shortstop fielding grounders behind young pitching. The selection of Zach Green genuinely caught me by surprise. After getting over the initial shock, I can at least see what the Phillies were thinking: interesting defensive tools that play up due to excellent instincts and an advanced bat for a prep infielder. He played mostly third after signing, but I think he’s best left to fend for himself at short. The potential glut of third basemen in the system – man it feels weird writing that — has a tiny something to do with it, but it has more to do with Green’s good enough range and hands. It’s possible he’ll keep growing and overshoot the position anyway, but leaving him up the middle makes him a really interesting prospect rather than just another lottery ticket.
You can flip a coin between Perkins and Andrew Pullin to decide which position player drafted by the Phillies is the better bet going forward. The two were actually ranked back-to-back on my final big board: 98th for Perkins, 99th for Pullin. Pullin’s professional switch to second base gives him the edge currently as the best 2012 MLB Draft Phillies position player prospect. Sometimes it is harder to write a lot about favorite prospects because the prose can get a little too flowery and optimistic, so I’ll try to keep it brief with Pullin. Simply put, Pullin has star potential at second base. He won’t wow you with his tools, but he’ll still find a way to leave you walking away impressed. He’s extremely well-rounded for a young player, working deep counts yet always coming out on the positive ledger of the patient vs passive approach to hitting. He’s obviously a work in progress in the infield, but there’s little doubt that he has the hands, feet, and arm to make the conversion a success. The thought of him working as a double play combination with Roman Quinn playing to his right at Lakewood (Low-A) at some point next season makes me very happy. Keeping in mind everything I said about comps earlier, the Pullin/Quinn pairing up the middle looks a little bit like the Chase Utley/Jimmy Rollins duo. Utley and Rollins will both finish their careers as rock solid members of the Hall of Very Good, so projecting any prospect to someday play at that level is likely an exercise in futility. But it never hurts to dream, right?
The Dylan Cozens selection was widely panned by the industry leaders in the days that followed the draft. The impressive power, patience, and speed he showed as an 18-year old in the GCL shouldn’t be enough to quiet down those who initially opposed the pick, but I hope it puts to rest the idea that Cozens will never ever make it in pro ball. Cozens was a victim of both limited exposure and easily attainable information this spring. I think he makes for an excellent study in how opinions are formed in the online draft community. There’s such a fine line between trusting the data, empirical or otherwise, attained throughout the draft process and trusting the people within big league scouting staffs who evaluate amateur players for a living.
I don’t think one should like a pick simply because a certain team valued a player highly. It can be part of the conversation, but not the entire basis of liking or disliking a move. This phenomenon seems most common with minor league players, as certain teams (e.g. Tampa over the past few years, Texas currently) have such a strong track record of developing talent that it seems their players get a boost in rankings whether they deserve it or not. It also happens with the draft: see the fawning over any prep arm selected by Logan White and the Dodgers from a few years ago.
While I don’t think one should automatically like a pick because a certain scouting department made it, I do think there is some logic to the idea. It is alright to take a step back and try to consider what the drafting team knows that the general public might not. A few in the business appear to be of the mindset that it is best to form an opinion early and then stick to it no matter what evidence is uncovered along the way. A team drafting a player you ranked 239th (as I ranked Cozens) before the draft with the 77th overall pick doesn’t make anybody right or wrong. It is, however, a data point to be considered when reassessing the player. Ignoring the possibility that you might have misjudged the player initially negates any possibility for growth as an analyst of the sport. What did the Phillies see that I didn’t? What did they know that I didn’t? If after doubling back and re-researching the prospect still leads to the original conclusion on the player, so be it. But to simply dismiss the pick as a massive overdraft is missing an opportunity to do this job better.
I don’t get a chance to see every player in person; even if I did there wouldn’t be a great deal of value to come out of the limited looks from my admittedly amateur eye. Too many prospect writers seem to have made this industry an either or proposition in recent years. Either you go out and see prospects and write “scouting reports,” or you do your best as an aggregator of as many valuable sources as you can. Forgive me if I’m tilting at windmills here, but, really, what’s the harm in doing both? Trust your own opinion, but seek out others to either support or refute what you think you already know. I love going to games and watching video above all else, but I’m not foolhardy enough to think that my own view is the final word. I rely a great deal on my own little web of sources throughout the game. I’d also be lying if I said that I didn’t read and listen to what the industry leaders report on amateur prospects. When Aaron Fitt writes about a college pitcher sitting 88-92 with an above-average slider, that’s information that I can eventually use to help build a fuller picture of a prospect. I literally see no downside to this approach. Alright, I feel better. Let’s move on.
We’ll never know for sure if Cozens was “overdrafted” because we don’t have every team’s big board at our disposal. For all we know, Cozens may have been taken with the very next pick after Philadelphia at 77 if the Phillies decided to pass. All we know for sure is that the Phillies had him down as being worth at least a second round pick, possibly higher. That doesn’t make him good, bad, or anything in between, but, again, it is a viable data point to consider when evaluating him as a prospect. I compared Cozens to Wallace Gonzalez before the draft, but I now think it safe to say that Cozens is a far more athletic prospect who is also more advanced as a hitter. His defense will be something to watch closely, especially if he still has some growing to do in his 6-6, 235 pound frame. I’ve now heard him compared to what Aaron Judge, a potential first round pick from Fresno State, looked like from both an athletic standpoint and as a hitter (opposite handedness) coming out of high school. That would put Cozens’ upside at big league regular or better, depending on your current view of Judge. I’m cautiously optimistic about Cozens’ future.
Steven Golden fits the old Phillies mold of prep outfield prospect. He’s very athletic, a good runner, and an even better defender. The jury is still out on how much power he’ll grow into over the long run. As mentioned in his pre-draft report, I do like his hit tool – he has a far more balanced swing than the typical toolsy high school prospect – more than most I’ve talked to and read. The trouble with projecting high school bats like Golden (i.e. leadoff-type hitters) is that there’s really no telling what kind of plate discipline they’ll show once they get going in pro ball. There are a few indicators to watch out for from a scouting standpoint while they are still playing high school and summer ball, but plate discipline remains the toughest skill to project with any young amateur. There have been three big league players with the surname Golden (Jim, Mike, Roy), so the race to become number four is officially on. Steven will face still competition from last year’s second round pick by the Cubs, Reggie. Both are long shots.
Shane Watson and Mitchell Gueller will forever be linked together in the minds of fans associating the two supplemental first round picks as a package deal. At least that’s how I see it, anyway. Gueller’s fastball is on par with Watson’s, but his breaking ball isn’t as strong at present. A quick categorization of the two puts Watson as more of a polished pitcher (i.e. more pitchability, more refined stuff, better idea of how to put away hitters, etc.) and Gueller as more of an athletic project. That isn’t meant to downplay Watson’s ceiling; the popular Brett Myers comps speak to his mid-rotation or better upside.
One key thing both players share is a late season velocity spike that helped vault their draft stock considerably. Watson went from low-90s peaks to hitting 96. Gueller did the same. One of the interesting subplots to track with Gueller is how his desire to hit will impact his professional future. The Phillies gave him 900,000+ reasons to forget about hitting for the time being, but you have to wonder if his mind will drift back to life in the batter’s box if/when he struggles on the mound. That’s largely baseless conjecture on my end, so feel free to dismiss it if you like. I think there’s a strong argument that Gueller is the superior long-range prospect, especially if you’re all about upside – something about these cold weather pitchers with fewer miles on arm and extremely athletic builds – but the relative safety of Watson gives him the slim advantage. The fact that two really strong young pitching prospects will likely rank closer to 15 than 5 on most offseason organizational prospect rankings is a testament to the quality depth the Phillies have brought in over the past few seasons. I have Watson and Gueller each behind the lefthanded one-two punch of Jesse Biddle and Adam Morgan, likely behind righthanders Ethan Martin, Trevor May, and Jon Pettibone, and ahead of a large group of intriguing future late game relievers like Kenneth Giles, Lisalberto Bonilla, and, unfortunately yet inevitably, Brody Colvin.
Hoby Milner has all of the elements of recent Phillies mid- to late-round lefthanded pitching college steals. That’s what I originally wrote before going back and checking the last decade of Phillies drafts. Turns out they do seem to make a point of targeting a college lefthander or two within the draft’s first few rounds, but the success rate isn’t as high as I had imagined. It’s still very good, sure, but not quite as infallible as my memory wanted me to believe. Names like Justin Blaine (6th round) and Dan Brauer (6th round) are among the swings and misses. Phillies brass has to hope Milner’s more JA Happ and Adam Morgan than Bryan Morgado and Matthew Way, to say nothing of the worthy yet failed gamble on Joe Savery. I liked Milner a lot, ranking him over 100 spots higher on my pre-draft list than where he was actually drafted and noting that I think he’ll be a better pro than collegiate player. His body still has room to either add a few ticks to his peak fastball (from 92-93 peak to 95-96), gain more consistency on his sitting velocity (even if he moves from his current mid- to upper-80s to 88-91 that’s a good thing), or, in a perfect world, both. He has the potential for three above-average pitches (FB/CB/CU) that should help him start for the big club down the line. I don’t think this is necessarily a bold prediction, but all that is keeping him away from truly reaching his pro potential could be a better workout program, good pro coaching, and a more responsibly managed workload. Combine all that with his natural talent and he’ll be the first Phillies draft pick from 2012 to reach the big leagues.
Kevin Brady is another potential pitcher who should be better in pro ball than he showed in college. I’m typically a let the pitcher start until he proves he can’t kind of guy, but I think letting Brady stay in the bullpen and fire away is probably the best course of action. He could be a part of an intriguing High-A bullpen that should also include hard throwers Kenneth Giles and recent position player convert Tim Kennelly. Brady’s upside is likely middle relief; in fact, to use a current Phil as a point of comparison, he reminds me some of a more svelte Josh Lindblom.
The Phillies grabbed two more college arms with some relief upside in Zach Cooper and Jeb Stefan. Cooper lacks the prototypical size teams often search for, but he has plenty of arm strength, a good hard slider, and an average changeup. His ERA was exceptional in 34.2 IP (1.30) between Rookie ball and the Low-A, but his peripherals (6.49 K/9 and 4.56 SIERA) aren’t as exciting. Quick and less than thorough research shows that there has never been a player named Jeb to play big league baseball. Jeb Stefan probably won’t be the first, but he has a nice fastball (94 peak) and good size. Like Cooper, he likely lacks the one knockout pitch to make it as a big league reliever.
I happened to write up the Phillies and Yankees draft reviews back-to-back. That statement alone isn’t particularly interesting, but the timing gave my brain the chance to mash up the two drafts over and over again. The conclusion: these two franchises drafted very, very similarly. I get that you could probably play a similar game with any two random teams – ooh, toolsy outfielders and mature college bats…what are the odds of that in a draft with hundreds of players of each type? – but I happened to notice a connection between Philadelphia and New York, so, darnit, I’m going to run with it. Intriguing outfield to second base project? Big conference college catcher with power? Both teams picked them. High school hitter who has seen time at both first and the outfield? Of course. Hulking lefthanded college slugger? You got it. Freak athlete prep outfielder? Highly regarded high school arms at the top of the draft? Check and check. I favor Pullin’s youth, Peter O’Brien’s pedigree, Nathan Mikolas’ bat, Serritella’s well-roundedness, Austin Aune’s pedigree, and Ty Hensley’s present stuff, so that gives the one-to-one battles to New York. The rest of each team’s draft, however, tells a different story: Perkins and Green are better than any drafted Yankee infielder, and I’d rather have the Phils pitching triumvirate of Gueller/Milner/Brady than New York’s Black/Lail/Goody, though that one is closer than I would have guessed a few months ago. When you step back and look at each team’s respective draft, you see two teams with fairly similar draft day personalities. This entire paragraph is likely full of things that interest only me, but I suppose that’s the beauty of complete editorial control.
Yankees review will be up Monday. Enjoy the weekend, everybody.
8.278 C Josh Ludy (Baylor)
44. Baylor SR C Josh Ludy: above-average present power, strong, compact build; has improved in two major areas this spring – first, his questionable glove now has a chance to be average with continued work, and second, his hit tool, previously below-average, has improved just enough to put his power to use thanks to a cleaned up swing; strong arm; good approach; not sure he has the defensive chops to work as a backup, but power and physical strength are intriguing; 5-10, 210 pounds
24.758 C Chad Carman (Oklahoma City)
61. Oklahoma City rSR C Chad Carman: plus defender who defends well enough to warrant late-round consideration as potential backup catching option; age (23 as of May 9) works against him, but still could be of value to a team in need of a quality, professional presence to work with young pitching in low-minors; 5-10, 185 pounds
4.158 1B Chris Serritella (Southern Illinois)
15. Southern Illinois rJR 1B Chris Serritella: despite longish swing, still shows good bat speed capable of hitting big velocity; when everything is working, his swing is one of the prettiest in amateur ball; plus power potential; above-average defender; strong arm; slow even by first baseman standards; strong hit tool; heard a scout compare him developmentally to current Diamondbacks 1B Paul Goldschmidt during his college days; recovered from broken hamate injury with little to no apparent loss in power; like almost every other player on this list, the road to a starting first base job is paved with obstacles – you never want to rule out players with his kind of raw power, but the most likely positive outcome is a bench bat/platoon player; 6-3, 200 pounds
11.368 1B William Carmona (Stony Brook)
117. Stony Brook JR OF William Carmona: plus raw power; below-average plate discipline; poor defender at present with below-average range, so a move to 3B, where I’m not sure he’d be much better, may be necessary; plus arm strength – has hit 94 off mound; 6-0, 225 pounds
5.188 2B Andrew Pullin (Centralia HS, WA)
16. OF Andrew Pullin (Centralia HS, Washington): above-average arm; above-average speed; big raw power, but inconsistent in swing setup; more solid across the board than a standout in one area; little bit of Utley in swing; 6-0, 185 pounds; L/L
19.608 SS Tim Carver (Arkansas)
76. Arkansas rSR SS Tim Carver: similar to teammate and double-play partner Bo Bigham in that both are solid, high character college guys with little professional upside; gets in trouble trying to do too much at the plate at times; good speed; steady defender; 6-0, 185 pounds
3.125 3B Zach Green (Jesuit HS, CA)
21. SS Zach Green (Jesuit HS, California): good defensive instincts, first step is always right on; strong hit tool; average speed; average at best arm; seen as a future 3B, but not sure he arm for it – think he can stay at SS anyway; 6-3, 205 pounds
6.218 3B Cameron Perkins (Purdue)
15. Purdue JR 3B Cameron Perkins: above-average power upside; interesting profile as a hitter: he’s a well-known hacker, but with low strikeout totals and a well above-average ability to hit for contact; average speed; average defender; could be very good in RF; lets ball get very deep on hands; strong arm; good athlete; 6-5, 200 pounds; bad-ball hitter; hard to strikeout; 6-5, 200 pounds
2.77 OF Dylan Cozens (Chapparal HS, AZ)
13. 1B Dylan Cozens (Chaparral HS, Arizona): raw; big power upside; decent speed and good athleticism for big man; average arm; 6-6, 235 pounds; reminds me of Wallace Gonzalez from last year’s draft
13.428 OF Steven Golden (San Lorenzo HS, CA)
40. OF Steven Golden (St. Francis HS, California): good arm; very good speed; good instincts in OF combined with his speed give him plus range; line drive swing with very few moving parts – I like his hit tool more than most, though power upside is questionable; 6-3, 180 pounds; R/R
1s.40 RHP Shane Watson (Lakewood HS, CA)
35. RHP Shane Watson (Lakewood HS, California): 88-91 FB with sink, 92-93 peak; good 74-78 CB; definitely seen a good 76-80 SL; has shown 95-96 peak in spring 2012, sitting 91-93 FB; plus 78-80 CB; very consistent CB; everything down in zone; no real CU to speak of; 6-4, 200 pounds; spring 2012 UPDATE: 89-92 FB, 94 peak; above-average 75-76 CB; raw 78-81 CU; also rumors of 82 very good CB
1s.54 RHP Mitch Gueller (West HS, WA)
44. RHP Mitchell Gueller (WF West HS, Washington): 91-92 peak, up to 96 by early May; above-average speed; great athlete; CF range; low- to mid-70s CB that could be SL in time, either way has plus upside; low-80s CU; would rather hit, but most clubs prefer him on mound; 6-3, 205 pounds
7.248 LHP Hoby Milner (Texas)
62. Texas JR LHP Hoby Milner: 86-91 FB with great movement, 92-93 peak; used in a variety of ways as amateur: more often 86-89 FB as starter, low-90s as reliever; very good FB command, but not nearly as strong in this area with his offspeed stuff; once showed a potential plus mid-80s SL (freshman year?), but doesn’t use it now; instead relies heavily on mid-70s CB that has gotten a lot better since he first rolled it out as a sophomore; emerging 81-82 CU that is now solid; half-empty view might worry about his college workload/being jerked around between roles, but I think the value of his rubber arm; as thin a college pitcher as I can remember at 6-3, 165 pounds; some players give off the impression that they will be better pros than they showed in college – you watch Milner throw and you want him to be better than he is
10.338 RHP Kevin Brady (Clemson)
142. Clemson JR RHP Kevin Brady: for too long threw a too straight 90-92 FB that touched 94-96, but much improved late life in 2012; good FB command; above-average, but inconsistent 80-83 SL; once flashed plus CB, but ditched pitch for a long stretch before going back to it early in 2012; nondescript CU has gotten better, but is average at best pitch; debate over whether or not he fits best as starter or reliever professionally – health concerns and a lack of a developed third pitch seem to point towards the bullpen, though perhaps the switch comes later rather than sooner; 6-3, 220 pounds
15.488 RHP Zach Cooper (Central Michigan)
236. Central Michigan SR RHP Zach Cooper: 88-92 FB, 93 peak; has hit as high as 94-95 in past; good 82-87 SL; average CU; 5-10, 190 pounds
22.698 RHP Jeb Stefan (Louisiana Tech)
258. Louisiana Tech rJR RHP Jeb Stefan: 90-92 FB, 94 peak; also uses SL and CU, though neither profiles as big league out pitch at this point; iffy control; 6-4, 225 pounds
2009 MLB Draft Grades – Philadelphia Phillies
I don’t have a plan of attack in how I want to approach draft grades, so I just made up some categories and started writing. If anybody out there has a better idea on how to do this, I’m all ears. For now, my quick look at what each big league team did in the 2009 MLB Draft…
Three (3) Picks I Liked A Lot
Am I a byproduct of a the instant-gratification, “what have you done for me lately” generation? Do I place too high a value on a singular event that doesn’t have quite the real life importance explaining the way a team operates the way it does that I’ve assigned to it? Or am I just a typical Negadelphian who is only ever happy when there is something, real or imagined, to complain about? Yes, yes, and yes. I’m not happy that the Phillies, just one year removed from providing me with some of the very best moments of my young life, have now put themselves in the position where their 2009 draft class, a draft class that serves as a proxy to their true commitment to putting a winning product on the field, will be considered a success or failure based almost entirely on the whims of a 7th round high school righthanded pitcher from Louisiana. Brody Colvin (7th Round – HS RHP) is easily the most talented player taken by the Phillies in 2009, but whether or not he signs is a 50/50 proposition at best. No matter what happens, it’s hard not to like the pick itself, especially when looked at from an actual cost/potential benefit perspective. I’m finally buying into the Kelly Dugan (2nd Round – HS OF) selection, even though I’m not sure what to make of his ultimate upside. His is a weird skillset to wrap the head around as it isn’t every day a high school first baseman is converted instantly to centerfield as a professional. Lance Berkman is the pie in the sky optimist comp being bandied about, but even 80% of Berkman would work just fine over the long haul. Jonathan Singleton (8th Round – HS 1B) should be what Michael Durant could have been.
Three (3) Picks I Didn’t Like At All
Kyrell Hudson (3rd Round – HS OF) may in fact be a worthy high upside gamble in the third round (he looks great in a uniform, I’m told), but high school players with well below-average hit tools just plain don’t excite me personally. This seems like a research project worth looking into, though it may be difficult to objectively pin down the parameters to make it worthwhile. The Adam Buschini (4th Round – COL 2B) pick is a frustrating one because it brings back terrible memories of an inexplicably cheap Phillies ownership group overdrafting signable no-leverage college players for no clear reason.
Three (3) Best Bets to Play Major League Ball
Kelly Dugan and Brody Colvin are the two easiest names because each player has the upside needed to be above-average at their position while also coming ready made with useful enough tools that should play within the confines of a carefully carved out big league role if things don’t all come together and stardom isn’t achieved. The wild card of this group is Washington State LHP Matt Way, a fifth round pick. Brian Gump (26th Round – COL OF) could be a fifth outfielder somewhere, someday based on his plus speed tool alone, but now I’m just getting cute with this category. Part of my appreciation of Gump here is my coy way of mentioning that two of his many nicknames include “Hot Pants” and “Shiggles.” Shiggles Gump. For real.
California Condor Award (Longest Incubation Period aka Longest Expected Time in Minors)
Plenty of one promotion at a time high school guys in this particular class – lots of 2014 ETA’s. Hudson is probably the biggest name among the group that would take the longest time to reach the bigs…if that makes sense.
Hudson is almost all projection at this point, so he would appear to be a favorite for this category. On paper, it does make some sense – Hudson is Eddie Murphy raw with tons of potential growth to his game. Then again, your mileage might vary on how high his actual upside really is. It’s great that he can run really fast and even better that his physical frame belies potential plus power down the road, but if a player can’t hit high school pitching with any kind of regularity then his upside is ultimately going to be quite limited. It’s too early to say Hudson — or any high school player for that matter — will never hit as a professional, so I won’t come out and say it, but…it’s generally not too wise to invest too much hope in players who haven’t shown the ability to make consistent contact against what should be overmatched competition. My real answer would be Colvin, a pitcher with true top of the rotation quality stuff and the drive to get there.
Tina Small Biggest Potential Bust Award (Google Her, It’ll Make Sense – NSFW)
Has to be Hudson at this point, right? He could conceivably never make it past AA. If you are counting on underslot top five round college signees to become above-average big league contributors, then you could also throw either Buschini or Way in the mix. I personally would be surprised to see Buschini get a big league at bat. That would make his selection a “bust,” right? I guess it depends on how we want to define “bust.” For now, I’m just looking at high round players (top five, generally) that have a long ways away from being big league quality players. Hudson fits that definition almost too perfectly.
Way could be a back of the rotation crafty lefty starter if things break the way he and the Phillies hope, but his most likely landing spot is as a LOOGY. Austin Hyatt (15th Round – COL RHP) is another player that may not quite have the upside as a legit big league starter, but has just enough stuff and more than enough guile to outwork those around him and win a bullpen job someday.
Three (3) Unsignable (Probably) Players To Remember
I’m too much of an optimist to put Colvin here, so I won’t. I’d actually bet on him signing a pro contract in the next month or so over him heading down to LSU. If the category was really best non-top five round high school player, then Colvin, Singleton, and Andrew Susac (16th Round – HS C) would make for an easy top three. If we restrict the category to players picked in rounds 10 or later, the best bets to emerge as legit prospects in 2012 include Jake Stewart (Round 14 – HS OF), Susac, and Jeff Gelalich (Round 41 – HS OF).
As it stands now, this draft is one of the weaker ones from top to bottom. However, like many drafts around the league at this point, that potentially negative grade comes with plenty of caveats. Attempting to grade the Phillies prep bunch is tricky because it raises the question of talent vs. signability. Do you grade the high school players on talent or on the likelihood of whether or not each player signs? If it’s the former we’re ignoring the realities of the draft, but if it’s the latter then we’ve just wasted time analyzing picks that shouldn’t really be discussed until after the August signing deadline. I guess a balance is the way to go, let’s try that approach and see what sticks.
Dugan could be an above-average regular outfielder, but was still an undeniable overdraft and not great relative value. Hudson is an all or nothing pick, no other way of putting it. Singleton could be the high schooler than makes or breaks this particular subset (high school bats) because his power potential, bat speed, and age all point to big things to come. Aaron Altherr (Round 9 – HS OF) is Kyrell Hudson with better makeup, thus making him an excellent gamble at this point in the draft. An incredibly raw high school outfielder with a questionable hit tool in the third? Bad idea. Similar player in the ninth round? Let’s roll the dice and see if we can get lucky. Speaking of toolsy outfielders, Stewart and Gelalich both qualify as worthy shots in the dark past round ten. Stewart could part of the insurance policy the Phillies took out in case Colvin doesn’t sign. Susac and the already signed Marlon Mitchell (Round 27 – HS C) are both quality defensive catchers that could develop into starting caliber players.
Colvin is naturally the star of the prep pitching group. His basic scouting report (mid-90s fastball, near plus curveball, above-average athlete and hitter, sometimes sloppy mechanics) sounds a lot like former Phillies first round pick Kyle Drabek’s coming out of high school to me. Steven Inch (Round 6 – HS RHP) has a great frame and that fantastic blend of untapped potential mixed with present polish that make him a personal favorite. Colin Kleven (Round 33 – HS RHP), like Inch a Canadian, grades out as having a tad less upside and a great deal less polish, but he could be a possibility as an early August sign simply because he is one of the very few projectable arms drafted by the Phils here in 2009.
One or more out of Way, Nick Hernandez (12 Round – COL LHP), Hyatt, or still unsigned AJ Griffin (34th Round – COL RHP) should reach the bigs in some capacity – I’m personally a huge Griffin fan, though the lack of a signature on a pro contract by now seems to indicate the ship has all but sailed on him signing and he’ll head back to San Diego for his senior year. The quartet make up four of my favorite under the radar college arms from this year’s class, so at least they have that going for them. There are almost literally no college bats that profile as Major Leaguers, with the only exceptions being longshots like Buschini (who I’m on record as not liking), Darin Ruf (20th Round – COL 1B), and unsigned Texas A&M Aggie Brodie Greene (37th Round – COL 2B). I’m doubtful that any of the three get more than a handful of big league at bats, but Ruf was still a solid selection as a late round senior sign and Greene was a worthy gamble (though it is doubtful he signs) as an offensive second baseman in the 37th round.
Overall, it’s a draft heavy on high school bats and college arms. Based on what I know and what I think I know, they’ll sign two of the four toolsy outfielders (Hudson and Altherr), none or both of the prep righties (I think both Colvin and Inch sign), and then one of the two remaining potential impact bats (either Singleton or Susac, with Singleton being the more likely of the two). A haul of Colvin, Dugan, Singleton, Inch, (Susac), (Stewart), (Gelalich), Hudson, Altherr, Hernandez, Mitchell, Way, Ruf, Buschini, and Hyatt wouldn’t match the potentially historic 2008 draft class for overall value, but it still stacks up as an above-average group with plenty of impact upside.
Shadow Drafting – 2007, 2008, and 2009
A quick look back at some of my own brief forays into shadow drafting for the Philadelphia Phillies. This is almost surely one of those pieces that interests me way more than it could ever interest anybody else, but I think it has some value in that it give some sort of idea of which style of player I’ve liked over the past few years. I’d say grabbing guys like Main, Griffith, Melville, and Seaton all within the first two rounds the past two years would qualify as a bit of a draft trend, as would the selections of Jackson, Hood, and Westmoreland. Who knew I was so in love with prep righthanded pitching and super toolsy high school position players? I wouldn’t have said I feel all that strongly about either type of player, but it’s all right there in black and white. Interesting.
1.19 – RHSP Michael Main (LHSP Joe Savery)
1S.37 – SS Justin Jackson (C Travis D’Arnaud)
2.83 – RHSP Nevin Griffith (3B Travis Mattair)
(Republished from another archived Gmail – yes, this is what I email people about…sad, but true)
I tried my hand at the shadowing the Phillies draft this year in real-time. This was what I would have done and not necessarily what I would have guessed the Phillies would do. You can look at it two ways – where the guys wound up getting picked today (semi-useful, but not really) or what will become of these guys years down the road (the better way, but who’s got the patience?). I freaking love Seaton and thought the Phillies would be all over him – they trust their area scouts in Texas above pretty much any other region. I think I like Hood more than Collier personally, but it’s really close. Putnam dropped because of injury or something, Melville due to signability. Westmoreland has a Rocco Baldelli comp (maybe only since both are from Rhode Island), Martinez was a first rounder two months ago who stunk up the joint his senior year and will now most likely go to Miami for college ball, and St. Clair was a teammate of Savery’s at Rice who I’ve been a gigantic fan of for three years now. Amazingly enough, the Phillies and I were of the same mind when it came to picking Hamilton and Shreve…weird stuff, but I like the picks, especially the selection of Shreve, a first round caliber talent who could be the steal of the entire draft (I don’t say that lightly).
1.24 Tim Melville RHP
S.34 Ross Seaton RHP
2.51 Destin Hood OF
2.71 Zach Putnam RHP
3.102 Ryan Westmoreland OF
3.110 Harold Martinez 3B
4.136 Cole St. Clair LHP
5.166 Jeremy Hamilton 1B
6.196 Colby Shreve RHP
Now, real life:
1.24 Anthony Hewitt 3B
S.34 Zach Collier OF
2.51 Anthony Gose OF
2.71 Jason Knapp RHP
3.102 Vance Worley RHP
3.110 Jonathan Pettibone RHP
4.136 Trevor May RHP
5.166 Jeremy Hamilton 1B
6.196 Colby Shreve RHP
I can’t decide if I want to continue doing the Phillies (their first pick is a loooooong wait from the front of the draft) or if I want to choose a different team this year to mix things up. Ideally, the team would have picks in nearly every round at or around the mid-point of each round. This may be a gametime decision.