It is hard to draw any big conclusions after a player’s first year in pro ball after being drafted in the summer. Some players succeed as they face lower level competition before then fading away, others struggle to adjust before hitting the group running in their second year. Either way it is encouraging to see players show up in pro ball and at very least demonstrate the skills that got them drafted.
On Day 2 of the 2016 draft the Phillies lead off with high school SS Cole Stobbe and then proceeded to take 7 college players (5 pitchers and 2 hitters). Those 5 pitchers were a diverse bunch with a JuCo player (JoJo Romero – 4th), 2 RS Juniors (Cole Irvin – 5th and Blake Quinn 9th), a Junior (Grant Dyer – 8th), and a RS Sophomore (Julian Garcia – 10th). They were a mix of starters and relievers, with the first two players being lefties and the remaining three coming from the right side. Collectively the group has outperformed expectations, and now two of its members find themselves as important pieces in what looks to be a playoff bound Lakewood bullpen.
4th Round – JoJo Romero – LHP – Age 19 – 40.2 IP 2.43 ERA 7 BB 29 K
Romero will turn 20 in just over a week, but is by far the youngest member of the group. At 6’0″ he is also the smallest. His fastball is in the low 90s and his best secondary pitch is a great changeup. The knock on him was that his command could be an issue. But after his two short outings to begin the season, he has 5 walks in his other 7 starts spanning 37 innings, and four of those outing have gone by without him walking a batter. If Romero can hold his velocity while refining his command and working in a good breaking ball, he could be in that fringe mid rotation to back of a rotation starter range (#3/#4).
5th Round – Cole Irvin – LHP – Age 22 – 45.2 IP 1.97 ERA 8 BB 37 K
Irvin walked 3 in his last start to nearly double his walk rate, which is saying something about his first 8 games. There was a lot of debate about Irvin’s velocity this spring as he worked back from Tommy John surgery. He has been a bit all over the place, sitting in the 88-93 range, but he has touched as high as 95. For a command oriented lefty, those numbers will all play. Irvin has solid command of a three pitch mix and shows the ability to work to all parts of the zone. Neither secondary pitch is a devastating offering, which limits his upside. But he could start 2017 in Clearwater and end the year in Reading without much projection, with a future as a back end starter.
8th Round – Grant Dyer – RHP – Age 21 – 39.1 IP 2.52 ERA 6 BB 53 K
Dyer was a good reliever before his junior year, before then transitioning to the rotation where he lost a little bit of his raw stuff. The Phillies have back in a bullpen role, though he has been stretched out due to team needs at times. He breezed through Williamsport, striking out 21 without walking a batter, before being promoted to Lakewood. His first two Lakewood outings were rough (6.1 IP 4 H 4 BB 9 K), but since he has been a shutdown piece of a surging BlueClaws squad and over his last 6 outings he has gone 17 innings allowing, only 8 hit and 3 earned runs, while also walking only 2 vs 23 strikeouts. At his best Dyer will touch 94-95 with a plus curveball. He doesn’t really have closer upside, but he could be a fast moving reliever who could fill into that 6th/7th inning type role where he could get a team multiple innings.
9th Round – Blake Quinn – RHP – Age 22 – 30.1 IP 1.19 ERA 18 BB 42 K
Quinn is another pitcher who both started and relieved in college. He has a bigger arm than Dyer and according to Mitch Rupert has been as high as sitting 93-95 touching 97 in his stint with Williamsport. His secondary pitches aren’t as developed as Dyer’s curveball is, but he throws both a breaking ball and a changeup. The amount of walks concerns me, but Quinn has size and arm strength which means there is a major league relief future here. Quinn was promoted to Lakewood late in the year and should set him up to start in Clearwater next season unless he has a disastrous spring.
10th Round – Julian Garcia – RHP – Age 21 – 29.0 IP 3.10 ERA 18 BB 38 K
Part of why I liked the Phillies draft this year is that in round 8-10 they didn’t take chepa seniors, they got 3 interesting arms. Garcia was a good bit underslot as a redshirt sophomore from a small college in Colorado. The book on him was a three pitch mix highlighted by a good curveball and a fastball that touched up to 93. He started the year in the Williamsport rotation where he struggled and showed diminished stuff (fastball 87-90). Since moving to the bullpen in a long relief role he has pitcher 19.2 innings with a 0.92 ERA with 10 walks and 33 strikeouts. Like Quinn that is still a few more walks than ideal, but his fastball is back up to touching 93 and he is missing bats. He will likely need to show big growth next spring to get an opening day starter spot, but each year spots open up in Lakewood and Clearwater due to injury and Garcia could position himself to be in line for one of them.