We always like to dream about the ones that got away, the draft picks unsigned, the draft picks untaken. Here lets look at the guys the Phillies took, but couldn’t make a deal for some reason.
Those That Got Away:
Brandon Workman (2007 – 3rd round – 107 overall): Workman was an up and down guy out of high school, he would show a fastball up to 95, but his mechanics scared scouts. The Phillies offered him $275,000, Workman wanted $350,000. Three years later, Workman was a second round pick of the Boston Red Sox and has racked up 104.1 IP in the past two years in the majors as a starter and reliever, his likely home is the back of the bullpen.
With the money they didn’t give to Workman the Phillies signed a guy with this scouting report after the 2008 season:
The Phillies play in such a small big league park, they value groundball pitchers in development, and Sampson probably has the best sinker in the system among potential starting pitchers. It’s a hard sinker that he uses to consistently get ground balls…Sampson also throws a solid slider with plus potential down the line due to its depth. His fastball had average velocity in 2008, getting to 92-93 mph consistently, and he maintained velocity on both pitches throughout the season. Sampson, who signed for a $390,000 bonus, didn’t throw much of a changeup in high school, and the pitch made major progress with Lakewood, supplanting his soft curveball as his third pitch. He’s shelved the curve in favor of his slider. If it all comes together, Sampson will be throwing 90-94 mph sinkers with a plus slider and average changeup with a big, durable body and clean arm action. He’s a potential No. 2 starter ticketed for high Class A this season.
That player Julian Sampson got hurt and washed out of the Phillies system. At the time some analysts thought the Phillies had walked away with the better pitcher too. The next year the Phillies used their compensation pick on Jonathan Pettibone. He arrived in the majors in 2014, but should injuries have derailed his career, otherwise he looked like he was on pace to be a #4 starter in the majors leagues.
Scott Frazier (2010 -5th round – 171 overall): Frazier was thought to be hard to sign out of high school, but he offered big time upside, Baseball America had this to say:
Frazier’s inconsistency can be traced to his mechanics, which are decidedly funky. He uses a high leg kick, drops his arm down, around and behind his body before delivering the ball by jumping at the hitter. It’s hard to repeat, and all the energy causes him to quickly run out of petrol. Still, there is a great deal to like about Frazier, whose build resembles Stephen Strasburg‘s. At his best, Frazier delivers a 93-94 mph fastball and adds a sharp curveball and promising changeup. While his mechanics will need to be cleaned up, Frazier has an ideal, projectable pitcher’s frame at 6-foot-6, 200 pounds.
The Phillies offered Frazier $1 million, he didn’t accept and went to Pepperdine. The Phillies split the money to sign Jonathan Musser, Kevin Walter, and Brian Pointer. Musser and Walter have been disappointing, and Musser is now out of the Phillies system, Walter has been ineffective, but is coming off the best start of his career. Pointer has been tantalizing with power and speed, but hasn’t put it together. Meanwhile Frazier was drafted in the 6th round in 2013 by the Cubs, since then in 22 innings he has struck out 21, but walked 27 and has been generally bad.
Zach Wright (2011 – 6th round – 211 overall): Wright was a solid catcher behind the plate with good power potential. He wanted to go back to school, he signed the next year as a 12th round pick with the Angels and has hit .255/.346/.395 over 3 seasons, none above Hi-A.
Jake Overbey (2011 – 10th round – 331 overall): One of two high school QB/SSs that the Phillies drafted. They were able to sign Mitch Walding for a well over slot deal, but Overbey wanted to play football and baseball with his brother. He really struggled in the college game and was undrafted as a junior this past season.
Alec Rash (2012 – 2nd round – 95 overall): In the 2012 draft Rash stood out as the one difficult sign, because Iowa’s high school season runs into July. The Phillies offered a deal around slot, his family had inconsistent demands, and eventually reportedly asked for $800,000 ($300,000 over slot) which would have pushed the Phillies into draft penalties. Rash who took a step back in his senior year of high school has continued to struggle in college. The Phillies received a compensation pick in 2013 which they used on 3B Jan Hernandez, Hernandez is still very raw, but his combination of bat speed, power, and defensive abilities give him a high long-term ceiling.
Ben Wetzler (2013 – 5th round – 151 overall): The story of Wetzler is well-known, the Phillies thought they had a deal, offered over slot, Wetzler wanted to go back to school at the last-minute. Events transpired tag lead to the Phillies being involved in an NCAA eligibility probe. Wetzler had a great statistical year at Oregon State, but the LHP lost a grade off of his average fastball, the Marlins took him in the 9th round in 2014 and signed him for $35,000.
Jason Monda (2013 – 6th round – 181 overall): Much like Wetzler, the Phillies thought they had a deal, unlike Wetzler, Monda had no interest in being a professional baseball player, and will instead go to med school and was undrafted in 2014. The Phillies used some of the money earmarked for Wetzler and Monda to sign Denton Keys.
The Big Fish in the Pond:
Not all draft picks are equal, players taken after the 10th round are not necessarily expected to sign, but the ideal is to take a few fliers and sometimes you get a Jarred Cosart or Domonic Brown. But these players don’t always want to go pro, and in many cases going to or staying in college can benefit a player who is not receiving lift altering money to go pro. These players shouldn’t be viewed as missed opportunities because they are the successes and there are plenty of failures that the Phillies did not break the budget for.
Kyle Gibson (2006 – 36th round) – Raw and projectable, BA had this to say:
Gibson is 6-foot-5 and 190 pounds, and he may not be able to pack more than another 20 pounds on his lanky frame. He has a clean delivery, though that allows hitters to get a good look at him and take comfortable hacks. But it’s easy to dream on Gibson’s stuff. He already throws 88-91 mph and scouts envision him growing into a 90-96 mph fastball. Similarly, they see his fringy breaking ball and changeup developing into average to plus pitches.
Gibson did develop and went in the 1 round 3 years later.
Andrew Susac (2009 – 16th round) – Susac showed poorly in the spring before the draft which hurt his stock, as a draft eligible sophomore he went in the 2nd round in 2011.
A.J. Griffin (2009 – 34th round) – The rare senior that got better over a year, velocity stayed up and then he defied odds and ok stuff to be good in the majors before injury.
Ryan Garvey (2011 – 15th round) – A lot of fans wanted the Phillies to sign Garvey, but he opted for USC before transferring to community college and going to the Rockies in the 33rd round the next year. He has not made it to full season ball and is batting .249/.331/.424 over that time.
Kyle Freeland (2011 – 35th round) – Was a skinny projectable arm in 2011 (FB 85-88), he wanted more than the Phillies were willing to offer. Freeland blossomed on the Cape last year as the fastball was up to 96. He went right behind Aaron Nola to the Rockies with the 8th overall pick in 2014.
You win some and you lose some in the draft. I would love if teams could spend however much they want in the draft, but the combination of ownership and the CBA have limited the amount. To this point the only big guys the Phillies missed on that hurts is Workman, but that is because pitching injuries are unpredictable. At the time they were drafted I would have taken both Pettibone and Sampson over Workman, and Pettibone has even been better in the majors than Workman. As for later round picks, it is hard to buy a guy away from college late unless you are going to spend a ton of money, and sometimes guys just get a lot better in college, it is a lottery, you don’t always get a winning ticket.