Before going any further, I have not seen any of the top picks in person, if I had, I still wouldn’t have a lot of usable opinions. I also do not know what the Phillies will do at #1 overall, and with almost two months to go to the draft, it would be idiotic for the Phillies to know what they are doing either. This is just going to be my brief thoughts on the subject.
I think as of right now he has to be the favorite for the pick. He does not throw as hard as Pint, but 89-94 T95-97 (which he did yesterday) is still impressive velocity for a 17 year old lefty. His curveball is better than Pint’s slider and at this point I think you can say the same of the changeup and command potential. Then you have the fact that he is 9 months younger than Pint and I think he has the edge. As for Groome vs the college arms, none of the college arms have really stood out (more on that later). In his last start Groome put up a 7 IP 0 H 0 R 0 BB 19 K performance on 92 pitches to throw his school’s first no-hitter, firmly putting his performance in line with his stuff.
The College Arms
Alec Hansen’s injuries have removed him from the conversation, and the same is getting close on A.J. Puk for me. For Puk it has not been arm injuries, so he could return this year and dominate. For me Puk has too much risk, but that may change in a month and a half.
No high school RHP has ever gone #1 overall, because they are risky and volatile. Pint has the stuff to do it and has looked improved this spring. If Groome did not exist I would entertain this thought more because he has an elite fastball, plus slider, and he does show feel for a good changeup. I think Groome would need to falter big time for Pint to pass him, but if everything breaks poorly than Pint at a possible discount could be intriguing.
The College Bats
When talking college bats, it looks like three guys are in the conversation on high picks; Tennessee’s Nick Senzel, Mercer’s Kyle Lewis, and Louisville’s Corey Ray. Senzel was high on a few boards a few weeks ago because he is such a good hitter. He does lack ideal power at third and his glove is not going to make up huge value. He could easily be a plus major leaguer, but it is hard to see more than that. I would love him if I was picking in the 5-8 range, but there is not enough upside for #1. Ray and Lewis are both center fielders. Ray is the better all around player with both power and speed, but he is not without his weaknesses. Lewis has big raw power, but he swings and misses a lot, and unlike his competitors he is playing in a much weaker conference. Ray does not give me great feelings at #1, Lewis needs to do a lot to get there, but big power guys playing up the middle are going to big draws.
The HS Bats
The big names are Blake Rutherford and Delvin Perez and they could not be more different. Rutherford is old for the class and is likely destined for an outfield corner, but some scouts really think he is going to be able hit, show some power, and run. Perez is just a dream, and as a young Puerto Rican shortstop that dream has people looking at Carlos Correa. Perez is not as advanced as Correa was at the time he was drafted and lacks Correa’s physicality. There is some safety to Perez because he is a very good defender at shortstop, but his makeup has also been questioned by many. Perez is the wildcard, and feels like the guy who could fall to 3-5 and end up being the best player in the class, but part of picking #1 is not missing and Perez could really miss.
For me, Groome is the clear choice because of the weakness of the class around him. I think he would go #1 or at least Top 3 most years, but he is the only guy in the class I can say that about. There is still a lot of time until the pick, and I could see the Phillies looking for one of the college arms or bats to take a step forward, while monitoring Pint in case Groome steps backwards.