The draft itself is over, the signings have begun, and so have the judgements. It is almost impossible to judge a draft class at any point, but particularly difficult right after a draft where you don’t know who has signed and there is a huge information gap. A draft class that looks great right now might not look as good in a month when the team fails to sign all the overslot picks it took late. Meanwhile, as we move away from the draft, more information starts to leak about how teams viewed certain players heading into the draft.
Heading into the draft the Phillies had the 10th pick in round 1 and pick 9 in all subsequent rounds. However, due to the lack of comp round or competitive round picks, the Phillies only had the 18th highest draft pool at $7,058,500. Of that $3,231,300 is Randolph’s slot and $1,259,600 is Kingery’s slot. Both will sign for at least slot. This did not leave a lot of money for the Phillies to make flashy picks on Day 3 like some teams.
Here are my reactions and thoughts on what the Phillies did do.
- It was a very weird draft. It was nothing like what the Phillies have done before. There were no Cape Cod League standouts. A lot of small school players both in the college and HS rank. Not many pure org filler guys, maybe someone like Brendon Hayden is more filler as a college first baseman who never mashed qualifies but not much else. Until the very end of the draft they wasted almost no picks on guys they are almost guaranteed going to cut a year from now. It will be interesting to see how it plays out.
- I really like what Almaraz had to say about hitting vs pitching. He said they emphasized hitting early and didn’t reach for non-elite arms. It was evident why later when they emphasized projection in their HS selections both early and late. It was also very balanced between HS and college as well as positionality.
- There is not much to say about Day of 1 that hasn’t already been said. It was very atypical draft for the Phillies as they took two players with potential plus hit tools. In a draft that lacked stars, Cornelius Randolph looks like he could be very solid, even in left field. Scott Kingery was a great pick in the second round. He might not move fast enough to catch the first wave (Reading guys and up), but he could get to the majors by mid-2017 as a solid regular second baseman. These top two picks could make the draft before we get into the later rounds.
- I still don’t fully understand the Luke Williams pick, but moving him to third makes sense given the organization. He will play next to Arquimedes Gamboa and Jonathan Arauz in what could be a very interesting GCL team. I am also intrigued by a third baseman with plus or better speed.
- The Kyle Martin pick and to a lesser extend the Kingery pick represent an opportunity for aggressive minor league assignments. Rhys Hoskins has proven all he can in Lakewood and is likely going to Clearwater soon. The Phillies can put Martin in Lakewood to start and he will only be half a level behind where he would have been as a junior. Essentially the Phillies can negate taking a senior by pushing him aggressively. Kingery could go to Lakewood as well is Malquin Canelo goes to Clearwater, the Phillies can shift Grenny Cumana back to his natural shortstop to make room.
- The Bailey Falter pick is incredible intriguing to me because he is all projection. His delivery is smooth and there is feel for a changeup and fastball movement. He will likely move slow with time in the GCL this year and Williamsport next year.
- Both Tyler Gilbert and Luke Leftwich should slot into the Williamsport rotation, both feel like they have a bit more upside than Brandon Leibrandt (6th round 2014), Austin Wright (7th round 2011), and other mid round college starters. It seems like Leftwich has enough velocity that if he can’t make it has a starter he could move very quickly as an interesting reliever.
- The Greg Pickett pick is very intriguing and we will see how much his bonus is. He is really raw, but coachable. The upside is giant, but he might never hit. It is a gamble, but one worth making.
- Mark Laird and Zach Coppola feel very similar, good center fielders with plus plus speed and no power. At least, both look like they have 4th outfielder upside, I would lean Laird for obvious reasons.
- Two of the most interesting Day 2 picks for me were SS Dylan Bosheers and OF Kyle Nowlin. Both are small school guys who put up big numbers. Bosheers is probably not a shortstop going forward, but he hit .337/.24/.576 with 9 HRs while playing shortstop this past year and was able to do that the year before as well, he is a bit old (23) which likely has hurt his stock. Nowlin tied for the D1 lead in home runs with 19 as he exploded to hit .326/.438/.690 on the year. He is a junior so he could go back, but it is well worth seeing if the performance can carry forward at all.
- Starting in the 17th round the Phillies went on a run of selecting pitchers with 11 of their 12 picks. It was a bit confusing when it was going on, but after taking a step back in makes sense. They took a lot of college relievers and most of them quite large with a bit of projection. All of them throw hard enough that a break here or there and they could have some serious relief prospects. Speaking of serious relief prospects, there is a feeling that Ken Koplove (17th round) could make a jump now that he is a full time pitcher and could be an impact relief arm. Another pair of interesting arm are Sutter McLoughlin (22nd round) who has been up to 95 and Skylar Hunter (12th round) who just missed out on making Team USA.
- The Phillies lacked the money to try and sign one of the HS pitchers with now stuff, so starting with Falter in the 6th round they took pure projection in their arms. Will Stewart, Nick Fanti, and Malcolm Grady seem signable, but it will take a lot to pry Jacob Steven away. All are in the high 80s pushing into the low 90s.
- Everyone seems to agree that U Penn catcher Austin Bossart has major league potential due to a solid defensive profile. It is likely a backup projection, but that is not bad value in the 14th round.
- The Phillies like Edgar Cabral, but it is hard to find anything else on him.
Overall it is not an incredible draft, but it didn’t have to be. They did not have the opportunity to really get creative with money, but they did move some money around to take Pickett in the 8th round. I like that they took a lot of guys with a chance to major leaguers, especially in the bullpen. They did not take any giant risks in the first 10 rounds outside of Pickett. They took a lot of college performers at the plate and Almaraz mentioned analytics a lot. They are going to need to sign some of the HS arms and outfielders to make it a really successful draft. Despite all of the late round drafts and the picks on Day 2, this draft will come down to how successful Randolph and Kingery are.