Given the way the 2012 season has gone for the Philadelphia Phillies, it was only fitting that this year's amateur draft be an event filled with surprises for the club.
Heading into this year's draft, experts believed that the Phillies would focus on college bats with quick paths to the MLB, and while they selected a few college bats that could possibly fit that profile, it is obvious and undeniable that the Phillies remained within their uncomfortable "comfort zone"—high school players with less-than-certain futures but huge ceilings.
With another draft in the books, it will be years before we can fully assess this year's crop of talent, but Ruben Amaro Jr., Marti Wolever and Co. will certainly be hoping for the best.
The following slideshow will offer up an initial grade for each of the Phillies' first 25 selections. Did the Phillies make the right selection with certain picks? Did they reach for a guy, or let one slip past them?
There's only one way to find out.
I like the Phillies' selection of Shane Watson, a player that Baseball America had ranked as the 30th best prospect in the draft heading into day one and a guy that the Phillies managed to land at number 40.
I'm just not sure it was the best direction for the franchise.
Watson has big potential, but the cupboard is nearly empty for the Phillies in recent seasons. There were college players, even pitchers, on the board with lofty potential and the ability to move through a system fairly quickly. Watson is going to be a project.
Watson is a tall 6-foot-4 pitcher out of high school with room to grown. His fastball is a good pitch, a heater that sits consistently in the low 90s, and he can reach back and touch 95 mph. His best pitch, however, is a 12-6 curveball that gets a plus grade. He'll throw a change-up as well, but it's not up to par with his first two offerings.
The Phillies made a bit of a surprise pick by selecting Mitch Gueller in the compensation round, but only because there hasn't been much chatter about the high school player from Washington.
Gueller played on both sides of the ball during his high school days and could have been drafted either way. When you hear something like that, it means that a players is extremely athletic, and Gueller certainly is.
The Phillies selected him as a pitcher because there is a ton of upside there. His fastball sits in the low- to mid-90s and his curveball could develop into a plus pitch. As he works more as a pitcher, you'll also see him mix in a change-up that he seldom used in high school. There was just no need for it against that level of competition.
Again, as was the case with Shane Watson, there is a lot to like about Gueller, but the Phillies probably should have went with a college bat here, maybe even a college arm.
Love the player, not sold on the pick.
We all thought that the Phillies would focus on college players early, but with their third consecutive selection, they picked a high school player. That's not a bad thing by any stretch of the imagination, especially when that third pick is outfielder Dylan Cozens.
Cozens is a supremely talented athlete. From a sheer physical standpoint, his stature calls to mind Giancarlo Stanton of the Miami Marlins for me. At just 18 years old, Cozens stands at 6-foot-5 and weighs 245 lbs.
It shouldn't come as much of a surprise that he was offered a scholarship to play at the University of Arizona—as a defensive end.
Cozens is a left-handed slugger with big time power, but scouts had him all over their draft boards because he didn't play much baseball. He's said to have a good arm and great swing, giving him a huge ceiling.
I still think that the Phillies should have focused on college players early, but when you get a chance to draft a guy with Cozens' potential, you do it.
The Phillies' fourth selection in the draft is yet another high school player; this time, a right-handed pitcher by the name of Alec Rash.
I'm not a huge fan of this pick, mainly because I think the Phillies hurt themselves by drafting so many high school pitchers early on, but it's hard not to like Rash's potential.
He could have a huge ceiling. Rash has an explosive fastball that sees him touch 95 mph frequently, but issues with his mechanics and delivery mean that he is going to be a project in the minors, and the Phillies just don't have the system to afford that kind of luxury right now.
There's a trend developing here. Five picks, five high school prospects.
When the new Collective Bargaining Agreement was ratified over the winter, we knew that the draft was going to be interesting this season, and it certainly was. Teams are allocated a certain amount of money to sign players drafted in the first 10 rounds, so picking out the scapegoats from the legitimate prospects could be tough.
Zachary Green is a guy that I think the Phillies really, really like.
The Phillies picked Green as a shortstop, but that's probably not going to last for long. Scouts believe that he is best suited to play third base and certainly has the arm, and then some, to play the hot corner.
What got Green drafted was his bat, plain and simple. At 6-foot-3 and just 185 lbs, he still has plenty of room to grown. He has a level swing and right now, making contact is his strength, but Green will add more power as he develops.
Right now, he doesn't have the highest of ceilings, but he could definitely develop into a quality third baseman.
The Phillies finally drafted their first college bat in the fourth round when they selected first baseman Chris Serritella out of Southern Illinois University.
Serritella is an interesting prospect. A natural first baseman, he has good instincts and is regarded as a good defensive first baseman. He won a Missouri Valley Conference batting title during his college career as well, making him an excellent two-way player.
At 22 years old and having finished four years of college, Serritella is the type of prospect that could move through the system quickly, but don't expect him to knock Ryan Howard out of a job.
The Phillies' brass scouted the Pacific Northwest heavily this year and that was apparent through their first few selections of the 2012 draft. Fifth-round pick and high school outfielder Andrew Pullin was the fifth selection to come from the West.
Though the Phillies drafted Pullin as an outfielder, the organization has already made it clear to him that they intend to play him at second base, and that's perfectly fine for him.
Pullin's greatest tool is his speed, but he also makes good contact and has the frame to develop solid power.
I've also read that he was a "switch-pitcher" in high school, but I think those days are gone.
There's a lot to like about the Phillies' sixth-round selection, third baseman Cameron Perkins.
Perkins has manned the hot corner at Purdue during his college career, but he has become known for his bat more than anything, especially his power. Perkins managed to lead Purdue in home runs over each of the last two seasons.
He's an interesting prospect at the plate. He has a smooth stroke and generates a ton of power, but he doesn't have much discipline to speak of. Perkins is extremely aggressive and yet somehow manages not to strike out very often.
He'll certainly have some adjustments to make in pro-ball. First and foremost, that aggressive approach isn't going to cut it against tougher pitchers the same way it did in college, and most scouts think he'll be a corner outfielder at the next level.
Regardless, his bat makes him a very good prospect.
If you take Hoby Milner for what he is, then the Phillies made a solid pick in the seventh round of the draft.
Milner spent the season as a reliever for the University of Texas and tossed a lot of innings—71.2 innings—and struck out 68. His best pitch is a good fastball that sits in the low 90's which he can locate consistently.
If the Phillies can get him signed, Milner could move through the system quickly as a left-handed reliever with a set-up man's ceiling.
I like the Phillies' selection of Josh Ludy a lot.
Ludy is a 5-foot-10, 210 lb. catcher out of Baylor University. He was recently named the Big-12 player of the year and swings the bat well. Throughout his college career, Ludy has shown that he has the ability to hit for average, and the power is coming along nicely.
Perhaps most importantly, Ludy has the tools to stick behind the plate. The biggest question is how those tools translate to pro-ball, but I like Ludy a lot for an eighth-round selection.
Jordan Guth was an interesting selection. The right-handed pitcher spent the year as the closer for the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and had a sensational year.
The biggest drawback for the reliever is also his greatest strength. He throws a fastball that consistently reached the mid 90's, but doesn't have much of a secondary offering to speak of.
Despite being a college pitcher, the Phillies will likely take their time with Guth and have him develop a strong secondary pitch, at which point he could move through the system fairly quickly.
In the 10th round, the Phillies would select Clemson's Friday starter, right-handed pitcher Kevin Brady.
Brady already has a very good idea of how to pitch. He has a good fastball that sits consistently in the low- to mid-90s, as well as a pair of secondary pitches: a slider and a change-up.
He struck out 62 batters this season and posted an ERA of just 2.54. Should he join the Phillies, he'd be a potential back-of-the-rotation starter, should he remain a starting pitcher. Some scouts believe that he's best suited for the bullpen thanks to some shaky command, but his ceiling could be higher there.
For an 11th-round selection, William Carmona was a very good pick by the Phillies.
Carmona spent the last three seasons mashing the cover off of the ball for Stony Brook University and frankly, I'm a little surprised that a team was not willing to take a chance on him in an earlier round.
A third baseman in college, Carmona has the potential to hit for average and the power is developing. One concern could be his physical conditioning in the future. Carmona is six feet tall and weighs 220 lbs.
Some scouts are doubtful of his ability to play third base in the future, but he should be able to hit at just about any position he plays.
The Phillies didn't take many college players early in the draft, but as this year's crop moved into the later rounds, the college players started flying off the board for the Phillies.
Among those college players was five-tool outfielder Zach Taylor. He scorched opposing pitching this year, hitting .373 with 15 home runs en route to being named the Peach Belt Conference Player of the Year and Division II All-American.
Taylor is exactly the type of player that the Phillies desperately wanted to get into their system this year: A high-ceiling guy that isn't necessarily a project and can move through the system fairly quickly, should he sign.
There doesn't seem to be much information available on Phillies' 13th-round selection Steven Golden, but the little information that is available all seems to say the same thing—"extremely talented."
Video of Golden, a high school outfielder, shows that he uses an open stance, but generates a lot of power. He makes good contact with the ball and certainly has the frame to develop above average power professionally.
I'd certainly like to see more of him before making a final grade, but for the moment, a "C" will work. There just isn't enough info to value him any higher.
I'd like to take this opportunity to go on the record saying that Richard Bielski's pitching face is a little terrifying. Now, on to the important stuff.
Bielski, who won't turn 18 until October, is a hard-throwing right-hander out of Servite High School in California. His fastball has been clocked as high as 94 mph, but he doesn't have much of a secondary offering yet.
With that information, it shouldn't be difficult to figure out that Bielski, should he sign, will be a bit of a project. The Phillies could afford to take on a guy with high upside but a lengthy road with this pick.
The Phillies grabbed another college pitcher in the 14th round when they selected right-handed starter Zach Cooper out of Central Michigan.
Cooper's calling card has been his aggressive nature on the mound. He led his club's staff as the Friday starter this season and tossed three complete games. He is aggressive in the strike zone, throws strikes, and has the ability to shatter a bat or two. Sounds like he'll fit right in.
Cooper doesn't have overpowering stuff, but he has good control and will start his professional career right away, as he'll join the Williamsport Crosscutters for short-season ball.
The Phillies made an interesting selection in the 16th round on day three when they went with a junior college, right-handed pitcher by the name of Nicholas Hanson.
There must be more than meets the eye with Hanson, because his 2012 campaign has been less than impressive. He went 5-5 in 14 starts this season and posted an ERA of 4.74.
With that being said, it's easy to see why a team like the Phillies, known for their love of high-upside guys, would want to take a flyer on a guy like Hanson. At just 20 years old, Hanson stands at 6-foot-7 and is a presence on the mound.
He doesn't throw very hard, with a fastball that sits in the high 80's, but we've see tall pitchers utilize deceptive fastballs before, and Hanson also throws a solid slider.
With the last pick of the 17th round, the Phillies selected a high school right-handed pitcher out of El Modena High School by the name of David Hill.
Hill features a good fastball that sits in the low 90's and an impressive curveball that already gets a lot of break.
By just watching him pitch, you can see that Hill has a lot of room to grow as a pitcher and he is a player that I personally think can develop into a good starter, as he also features a change-up.
This is a good, low-risk pick by the Phillies. If he signs, he can develop into a good pitcher. If he goes to college, no harm, no foul.
Some scouts believed that Hill could go in the first five rounds, so getting him in the 17th round is impressive.
Tony Blanford is going to get the same explanation as David Hill. He's a good high school pitcher that could wind up in college, but the Phillies made a nice decision by taking a chance on drafting him.
Blanford, a right-handed pitcher, has a nice, easy delivery that he repeats well. He has more of a 3/4 angle that creates a lot of angle on his slider, which he uses often. He also has a good heater and will mix in a change-up from time to time.
He sounds like the type of guy that the Phillies would love to get in their system and begin developing as soon as possible.
After selecting five straight pitchers, the Phillies used their 19th-round selection to draft a college shortstop by the name of Tim Carver out of the University of Arkansas.
Carver's best tools are his glove and speed. He was one of the best defenders that the Razorbacks had to offer in this year's draft, including a very strong arm and great footwork. His speed also helps him create tremendous range at shortstop, and he became one of the best defenders in the SEC.
The real question is whether or not he'll be able to hit professionally. He hit .307 at Arkansas this year but scouts question his ability to hit tougher pitching. However, if he is able to reach base consistently, he'll be able to steal a lot of bases. Carver is also a great base runner.
Matthew Sisto is the type of pitcher that has a limited ceiling, but the potential to move through the system quickly.
A right-handed pitcher, he spent the 2012 season pitching as a starter for the University of Hawaii, where he posted a record of 8-4 with a 3.64 ERA.
Sisto has an interesting approach on the mound. He has a power arm, but won't rely on strikeouts to get batters out. Instead, he'll rely on batters putting the ball in play, and that is a good approach moving forward.
He could develop into a solid starter for the Phillies, but again, he has a limited ceiling.
Moving into the later rounds of the draft, it isn't uncommon for a team to reach out and take a player who isn't on many draft boards, and that seems to be the case with the Phillies' 21st-round selection of Andrew Anderson.
I'm having a tough time finding much information on Anderson outside of the fact that he's a 6-foot-3, right-handed pitcher out of Galena High School.
Should Anderson sign, he'll join fellow Galena graduate Brian Pointer, a promising outfielder, in the Phillies' system.
Jeb Stefan was an interesting pick by the Phillies—even in the 22nd round.
He suffered a serious injury a couple of seasons ago that required Tommy John Surgery, but worked his way back to the mound for the 2012 season. The injury left him relying heavily on his fastball and he struggled on the mound, posting a record of 2-7 with a 4.89 ERA.
Stefan believes that he is still recovering from the injury, and that he'll introduce his curveball and change-up back into his repertoire more frequently over time.
He'll need some work in the minors, but makes for an interesting case.
The Phillies' 25th selection in the draft was a right-handed pitcher by the name of Geoff Broussard out of Cal Poly Pomona.
Broussard had a great 2012 campaign, posting an ERA of 1.58 and striking out 82 batters in 97 innings. As a result, he was named a Division II All-American for his efforts this season.
The Phillies went with a lot of high school players early and in all honesty, I thought it would hurt them, but when you land a college pitcher like Broussard in the 23rd round, I suppose that's a liberty you can take.