Quick Draft Thoughts (8 Days Out)

I have resisted writing about the draft because I honestly can’t get a good grasp on it. With the lack of a transcendent player at the top we are left with a bunch of players being maligned for not being transcendent players. For me Corey Ray, Kyle Lewis, Mickey Moniak, A.J. Puk, and Jason Groome are in Top 5 discussion in any draft and Riley Pint, Nick Senzel, Delvin Perez, and Blake Rutherford are all Top 10 type players. Based on the Mock Drafts we are seeing recently, the Phillies are narrowed down to Kyle Lewis, Mickey Moniak, and A.J. Puk with some saying it is actually a two player race between Puk and Moniak. I have narrowed my focus down to those three players, but some quick thoughts on some other guys first:

  • I like the idea of Delvin Perez. He is not Carlos Correa, but he is a true shortstop and he is extremely young. The number of top shortstops of late have hidden how valuable this profile is, the problem is that there is very little public information on Perez to have much opinion beyond this.
  • Jason Groome might be the best player in the class, but he has a ton of risk and he does not seem as special as he did 10 months ago. Maybe it is fatigue with Jason Groome or high expectations, but I expected more of a step forward this year as a 17 year old, but he was just kind of what he has been.
  • Corey Ray just seems fine to me, if you are picking 3 or 4 he is a great pick, but he just feels very ordinary at #1.

As for the three remaining, I think if it was my decision I would take Kyle Lewis, but I lack conviction about that. The big problem is Lewis is that he has not proved he can do something that he had no chance to prove he could do. He is currently facing very mediocre arms, and scouts have just not had the chance to get a lot of looks at him vs good offspeed and premium velocity. On the surface Lewis has all of the tools to be an impact player, but it is hard to not have a lot of doubt about his outcome. As we have seen over the years in the Phillies system, if you cannot handle offspeed and velocity and are just about bat speed and power, it can fall apart quickly in the upper minors. I am sure the Phillies (and everyone else) is doing a lot of homework on Lewis, if they take him I am likely inclined to trust them, because I honestly can’t say whether it will work or not. For all those reasons, I completely understand why he seems to have dropped off.

Puk looks like a #1 pick. He doesn’t physically look like one, he really doesn’t physically look like any former pitchers. However, he is a giant lefty with a mid to upper 90s fastball, feel for offspeed with a breaking ball and changeup that have the foundations to get to plus with pro development. His command is not great, but he will flash it. He even plays for a top program in the top conference in the college game. If it all works, he is a front of the rotation monster and he anchors your team for the foreseeable future. All that being said, he is not too athletic, does not use his body well, seems to put stress on his back, and has had back injuries already. If you take Puk you can drop him in Hi-A let him work short outings to keep his innings down, maybe even push him to AA if he succeeds and he could be in the majors by the middle of next season. Puk probably also will demand the highest bonus in the draft since he almost certainly goes #2 overall if the Phillies pass on him.

Moniak does not look like a #1 overall pick. He is fairly young for the class (just turned 18 this May), he is listed at 6’1″ 175lbs and that might be generous. The first big knock against him is going to be the power projection, because it just is not there, at least not in a traditional sense. However, what is there is a true center fielder with most evaluators putting a future plus grade on the glove (and some going a bit higher than that). He has a good arm, and has recently put up some run times closer to plus plus than plus (according to Baseball America). That is all well and good, and is probably a late first round pick on those skills alone. However, Moniak can really hit. Even if all you see is grainy footage from showcases and high school games you can see the feel for contact and the bat speed. If there is something I have learned over the past few years, if you want to bet on a player to beat their power projection, it is guys who can really hit. Moniak is never going to be a slugger, but I am willing to bet he is going to out homer his projections and pile on a large amount of doubles in the process. Moniak is the pick most likely to cause an outrage in Philly because the team has Roman Quinn, Odubel Herrera, Aaron Altherr, Nick Williams, and Carlos Tocci all who are center fielders, and they took a high school outfielder in the draft last year. If Moniak is the pick he instantly becomes a better prospect than most of those names. If Moniak and everyone works out, then the Phillies can acquire whatever they needed. Moniak also should have a bonus that is at least $1million less than Puk’s.

I am fine with Moniak or Puk (or Lewis) with the pick. Either player will allow the Phillies to push a lot of money towards their second round pick. The Phillies are unlikely to be able to count an individual player falling, but there are enough high bonus demand high school arms, that a very good player is likely to fall to them. So while the Phillies are not going to get a no doubt superstar at #1, this year’s draft is not that much worst than the last 2 (2014 ad 2015) and there were very good players taken in both of those drafts.

Author: Matt Winkelman

Matt Winkelman

Matt is originally from Mt. Holly, NJ, but after a 4 year side track to Cleveland for college he now resides in Madison, WI. His work has appeared on Phuture Phillies, The Good Phight, and TheDynastyGuru.

15 comments

  1. Keith

    Thanks for your work. I have the belief that you stock your system as much as possible up the middle… C, P, SS, CF, knowing that C can move to 1B, SS can move to 3B/2B, and CF can move to LF/RF if necessary. Is this bad thinking?

    This is why having Alfaro, Knapp, Grullon, Posso is fine.
    This is why drafting another SS when we have Crawford is fine.
    This is why having Herrera, Quinn, Williams, Tocci, and HOPEFULLY Moniak is fine.

    I prefer Moniak based on reports and grainy video, because I believe he looks like a faster, CF version of Crawford. And I will take that at #1 any day.

    • Eddie

      Especially with High Schoolers, that’s pretty much what everyone does, simply because any player athletic enough to someday make the majors is going to be playing CF/SS/C at that level. If the NFL was drafting players out of high school, probably a third of them would be Quarterbacks.

  2. Eddie

    Matt,

    1) Would your choices be the same if money/overall draft strategy were not factors?

    2) My own feeling is that with no clear top choice, I’d just narrow it down to the best 3-5 and see who will take the least money. Heck, if Ray would go for $4 million, I’d take it and go crazy lower in the draft. Dumb idea?

    3) I’ve never really seen this discussed, but I assume it happens … how often do HS players give different “need to sign” numbers to different teams? When an “unsignable” guy like Greg Pickett signs for $350 K, does that mean maybe he was telling other teams he wanted 500 or a million, or is it more likely a case of someone changing his mind when the offer is actually made?

  3. Plaidgolfpants

    i think 6 million is probably the “agent floor” for the 1:1 pick. They would be ostracized if they sold that slot too far under its value. Last year it was 8.6M. Phils should be able to convert the savings into 2 ot 3 hard-sign picks.

  4. Tim

    Who’s Puk’s agent ?

  5. GDub

    Can you guys explain to me what the advantage is of the 1:1 pick signing “under slot”?

    Where does that extra money go? As I see it, it’s a draft so everyone gets to select at their position in the draft (much like every other daft). Why does us having extra money in the second/third round help us get better players compared to if the 1:1 pick signs at full value? Can players decide not to sign with other teams even if they are draft by them because they know we can offer more money?

    • Matt Winkelman

      You can shift that money to your later picks, but teams can draft whoever they want so you may not get who you want, but it is not that simple either.

      Let’s say Puk will sign for $6.5M and Moniak will sign for $5M. If you take Puk you have an additional $3M to spend and Moniak give you about $4.5M, the slot in the second round is about $1.5M.

      So let’s say you take Puk and you think Kevin Gowdy is a Top 20 talent. Gowdy has a strong commitment to UCLA, let’s say you are willing to give him $4M to sign. Gowdy tells all the other teams it will take $4M to have him not go to school. Other teams then have a few choices; they can pass on him, they can take him and give him $4M, or they can take him and try and call his bluff. If Gowdy is serious about going to school then the team that takes him and won’t pay him risks not getting their pick and losing that slot money, potentially putting any other deals they have in their draft in jeopardy.

      There are some teams that could match $4M-$5M asks, but there may be more players (mostly HS arms) worth of that than teams that can pay, so someone will fall.

      If you take Moniak, you could potentially aim bigger and let’s say it is Blake Rutherford who is old for a HS senior, but has leverage because he only needs to go to college for 2 years (he would be a draft eligible sophomore). Say you tell him that you will pay him $5M (Top 5 money), he tells that to other teams and now they have to risk calling his bluff.

      • GDub

        Great read. Thanks for the response.

  6. ddnice

    What are the chances Groome plays a year or two at the college level?

    • Matt Winkelman

      Very little as he would need to go to JuCo (breaking his Vandy commit) to be eligible in a year or two. As for waiting 3 years, Vanderbilt is not a bad school for developing pitchers. Groome could go 1:1 in 3 years, but could lose it all if he gets hurt. I think he goes in the Top 6 and gets full or above slot to sign.

  7. Tim

    Sorry Matt about the short question my power was dead. I think Puk agent will come out soon no Que who it is . Boras has to be in the top 5 Somewhere, great post I hope they do good at 2.1 1.1 should have been Groome or Moniak not Puk , Lewis scares me plus Alvarez drafts now . Last he made the hit tool and control a big thing . Which would put Moniak and Lewis ahead , Puk command Control issues . How does Puk advance quick his highest ing count is 78 , he has 65 right now has the CWS yet . He avg 4.23 ing per start this yr , that’s 1 of my issue’s ,endurance he has a back issue, 2nd his dehydration issue . His daytime Era is 4.05 I think ,he has 1 complete game. His Body itself might be craziest thing if he puts another 30 pds where’s does it go. Small shoulders long arms Ronald McDonald bottom. He might not put it all together for another 4 yrs, Ings ct pitch ct new delivery maybe . Plus work on a pick off move etc. One more thing there’s an article about trading Herrera when Quinn comes up. I think it’s crazy Herrera keeps getting better next 10 yrs avg 100 walks 650 PA 15 hr 3 batting titles 4 Gloden Gloves . Comp Lenny D

  8. allentown1

    Puk with yet another less than great start. To me, he is not a 1.1. An advantage of first-round collegians is you know what you are getting. A disadvantage is that they are almost what they are going to be. Puk hs shown he isn’t a 1.1. There is more to pitching than FB velocity. I want Moniak or Lewis at a discount.

    • Matt Winkelman

      Guess which 1:1 pick struck out less batters than Puk (only 9.39/9 his Jr. Year to Puk’s 12.34) and had a higher ERA? This pitcher was also not the best starter on their collegiate team.

      That pitcher was Gerrit Cole, and he has gone on to be a very good major league pitcher

      • Rei De Bastoni

        1.89 BB/9? You forgot one of Cole’s important college stats that made him much better than Puk. Puk is >4.

      • Eddie

        I’d be OK with picking Puk, and I get your point about not going overboard with stats, but that’s not a comparison that’s gonna look good for Puk. For his career, Cole had over 10 K/9 and a lower ERA, despite playing in a significantly higher run-scoring environment. (PAC-12 2009-2011 vs SEC 2014-16). Plus, Cole was a year younger.