Philadelphia is in a draft frenzy mode right now. Last weekend, the city was center stage as the hosts of NFL Draft, which was a monster success and wild party. The Eagles fared pretty well in the draft as well getting some real quality players. As the NFL draft concluded, the Flyers lucked into a potentially elite player in a 2 player draft as they jumped from #13 to the #2 overall pick in June’s draft after the lottery bounced their way. And the Sixers, the poster child of Philly sports’ “process heavy” vibe right now, have a chance to land 2 picks in the top six if the ping pong balls bounce their way on May 16. And then there’s the draft nobody talks about and that’s the MLB draft. We are about 5 weeks away from the Phillies selecting in the top 10 for the 4th straight year and their last 3 tries have varied in performances thus far (Aaron Nola, Cornelius Randolph, Mickey Moniak). This year they have the 8th overall pick. Unlike the other 3 drafts mentioned above where picking players can usually be based on both need and BPA (best player available), baseball has 40 rounds, including a few extra picks in supplemental rounds, so it’s pretty much exclusively picking BPA. So with all that in mind, I thought I’d start a series of scouting reports just so you guys can get familiar with who might the Phillies might pick at #8 and eventually players of intrigue who could be picked in the 2nd and 3rd rounds. I’ll take a look at the strengths and weaknesses of each draft prospect and also dive into the numbers if they are available.
So I’d wanted to kick things off with a pair of mock drafts from MLB Pipeline draft contributors Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo. Both had the Phillies selecting an OF with the 8th overall pick, but on 2 different levels. Mayo had them selecting high schooler Austin Beck, while Callis sees the Phillies taking Vanderbilt’s Jeren Kendall. Over the last year at some point, both of these players could have been seen as top 5 locks. Right now most scouts still see them as top 10 picks, but either could fall out for different reasons (signability, injury, inconsistencies). So let’s dive in.
Jeren Kendall, OF, Vanderbilt
6’1″, 190 lb
Previously Drafted: Boston Red Sox, 3oth Rd, 2014
Rankings (as of 5/5/17): MLB.com #6, Baseball America #11, Scout.com #6
Excellent speed, definitely his strongest attribute. Good barrel to ball skills, sprays a lot of hard line drives. Good hip rotation, plenty of torque created for potentially good pull power. Very strong defender in centerfield, athleticism helps cover the gaps really well. Good arm strength for a centerfielder.
Aggressive approach, plenty of swing and miss in his game. Pitch recognition, particularly with breaking balls is still a work in progress. Front leg a bit stiff, could tweak it so when he lands and drives with lower half he opens it up a bit; would create less stress on the rest of his body. Swing isn’t conducive to staying back on those type of pitches lower in the zone. Brings the knob of his bat down too early from his back shoulder, doesn’t have that “Nike swoosh” swing plane. Not much opposite field power.
What the Numbers say
2015 (Freshman): 60 G, 229 PA, .281/.394/.530, 8 HR, 40 RBI, 34 R, 46.1 XBH %, 9.2 BB%, 26.2 K%, 19/23 SB, 4 errors, 4 OF assists
2016 (Sophomore): 62 G, 288 PA, .332/.396/.568, 9 HR, 59 RBI, 63 R, 39.7 XBH%, 8.7 BB%, 21.5 K%, 28/36 SB, 1 error, 4 OF assists
2017 (Junior) (as of 5/5): 45 G, 216 PA, .299/.381/.572, 13 HR, 35 RBI, 47 R, 39.3 XBH%, 10.6 BB%, 24.5 K%, 15/19 SB, 1 error, 2 OF assists
Jeren has a real chance to be a five tool player, with his power probably being his worst tool at best, average. I see a below average power at the next level however since he doesn’t seem to create a lot of elevation, likely won’t hit much more than 15-17 HR at peak. What will make him a big leaguer is being a Gold Glove CF with 30-40 SB potential. He’s got a good chance for an above average hit tool; profiles as a top 2 hitter in a lineup. If he doesn’t fix the upper half of his mechanics and be better recognizing breaking balls, he might be more of a .270 hitter instead of hitting .290.
Austin Beck, OF, North Davidson HS (Lexington, NC)
6’1″, 200 lb
Commitment: University of North Carolina- Chapel Hill
Rankings (as of 5/5): MLB.com #9, Baseball America #9, Scout.com #8
Good load, compact swing, quick wrists, generates well-above average bat speed. Medium leg kick, good balance on the stride. Plus arm strength. Plus speed, despite tearing ACL last spring. Covers the plate really well and drives the ball with excellent power to all fields.
Has tough time laying off breaking balls. Instincts in the centerfield are average. Has already suffered a serious leg injury (tore ACL late last spring), missed the summer circuit. Hasn’t faced off against top high school talent
Beck’s projection has all the looks of perennial All-Star and being a 30 HR, 20 SB a year candidate. He already has plus tools in 3 of 5 categories (power, arm and speed). Would have currently projected as average currently, maybe a .260-.270 hitter. His hit tool has a chance to improve to plus if he can continue to improve his pitch recognition and selection as most high school ballplayers do. Despite good athleticism, he will probably not be a centerfielder long term with average instincts; more suited to be a rightfielder with his plus arm strength. Could be a bit above average at that position, win a Gold Glove or two, but won’t be considered a perennial candidate.