Coming into the season it looked like the #1 pick was coming to come down to pitchers with Jason Groome and Riley Pint from the HS side and A.J. Puk and Alec Hanson from the college side. Right now it seems the Phillies have focused in on Puk, but Groome remains the top player on many public boards. Also there are some college hitters that some people think should be in the conversation for the top pick. No matter how you slice it, the #1 pick does not be clear cut on talent, which means this whole exercise is going to come down to things we, as fans, are just never going to know.
Makeup is a very amorphous concept, and within that is a system of information that is based mostly on whispers and speculation. Some concerns may be off the field, and that may be tangible things like A.J. Puk’s arrest last year for trespassing (him and a friend scaled a construction crane and planted a flag), or they may be just indicated as off-field concerns with no further elaboration. The there is the on the field makeup concerns, about effort, coachability, and feel for making adjustments. On top of what you see at the current amatuer level you need to extrapolate that out into a more competitive environment, maybe the player is not being currently challenged, maybe the coach is bad. A scout is trying to piece all of these things together as well, with more information, but they don’t have complete data either because the player is not in a pro environment. For those on the outside there is going to be rumors, but it is very difficult to see what of those rumors actually matter to a player’s future.
The Phillies are not going to want to take a player #1 overall who is already broken. The Astros did (knowingly or unknowingly) in 2014 and it spiraled into a catastrophe. If we narrow this down to just Puk and Groome, the Phillies are going to want to know everything they can about their arms, both current state and potential future. In the case of Puk they are going to want to make sure his back is healthy. In addition to any damage or potential weaknesses, both players are going to analyzed for their future growth, both in terms of injuries and future growth. Groome has solid velocity now, but ideally you want to know if he is going to be a guy who is 91-94 in his future, or if he is going to be more 93-96 as he matures. You want to see their feel for their secondary pitches, and you want to analyze how their delivery works, and how it will work 5 years from now when their body has changed some too. Unless someone is willing to break the law and share medical information pre or post draft, we are not going to know about any medical issues that any player has.
Under the slotting system, knowing how much it will take to sign a player is very important. The Phillies have $9,015,000 in designated slot money for the #1 pick. Let’s imagine a situation where Groome wants full value at #1 because the Reds and Braves are willing to meet close to that demand, and that Puk wants slot #2 ($7,762,900) and Ray or Lewis wants somewhere over slot #4 ($5,258,700). Now maybe you think Groome is the best talent in the draft, but not meaningfully so. The question becomes, is he $1.3 million better than Puk, and are they both huge values over the college bats? To add complexity to all of this, is that if you are saving money at #1, you need to have someone to spend it on. This means the Phillies will need have a signing number for probably 3-4 guys who will need big overslot bonuses that they can take at #42. All of these bonus requirements are going to be unknown to the public, because even if numbers are leaked there is no way of knowing what is posturing and what is reality.
So while we will all have our opinions on which player looks best on YouTube videos, we are severely lacking the information to say who will make the best pick at #1. This is not to say to blankly trust the Phillies or their scouts, just acknowledge they have a lot more information than you.