There's nothing quite like Major League Baseball's amateur draft, for all parties involved.
For high school players, it's the opportunity of a lifetime and the biggest decision you may ever make. It's an emotional high but also a time to weigh the risks: Do you get your professional career starter and forgo a college education, or spend time in college to refine your skills?
For college players, it is the reward after all of the hard work. Guys spend three to four years in college working their tails off, not only playing baseball, but studying as well. Being drafted is like coming full circle; the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, if you will.
But the oft-forgotten beneficiary of the MLB draft is the organization. Take for instance, the Philadelphia Phillies. This is a club that used the draft to add hitters and pitchers from both the college and high school level and restock their farm system.
A farm once described as "barren" could be roaring back to life with just 40 selections of some of the most promising players throughout the country.
But it's all meaningless unless the player comes to terms with the club—in this instance, the Phillies—on his first professional contract.
Some players are more likely to sign than others. It should go without saying that a college senior has more urgency to sign that a high school senior with an opportunity to go to college. Then again, a strong college commitment could draw a player away from a team.
This list will attempt to signal out which of the Phillies' top draft picks from this season have the greatest potential to sign a contract.
Well, that didn't take long.
Under the new draft structure, a lot of executives around the game have come to the belief that teams wouldn't waste picks on players that they believed to be a risky sign. Under the last collective bargaining agreement, a high school pitcher with an incredibly high ceiling and college commitment would have been a risky sign.
But this year, you got the feeling that the Phillies would eventually agree to terms with top pick Shane Watson.
Well, they have. Watson will receive the full slot bonus of $1,291,300 in plenty of time to join short season rookie ball.
The Phillies have also already agreed to terms with their second pick of the supplemental round, right-handed pitcher Mitch Gueller.
Gueller, the draft's 54th-overall selection, will forgo playing college ball with Washington State and turn pro. He also received the full bonus for his slot—$940,200.
Early indications following the draft are that Gueller is the best prospect chosen by the Phillies this June.
Three top picks. Three quick signs.
The selection of prep outfielder Dylan Cozens on draft day had a lot of people scratching their heads. He wasn't high on many draft boards—certainly not touted as a second-round selection—and seemed to be a better football prospect, scouted heavily as a defensive end.
But the 6'5" outfielder has decided to forgo a college career at Arizona State University and has agreed to terms on his first professional contract with the Phillies—a straight slot bonus of $659,800.
Before the Phillies went ahead and selected five straight high school players with their first five draft picks, experts believed that they would focus primarily on college athletes with quicker routes to the MLB.
Well, that wasn't exactly the case, but the Phillies did nab quite a few, good, college players, the first of whom is a first baseman out of Southern Illinois University by the name of Chris Serritella.
According to Philly.com, Serritella will forgo his senior year to sign with the Phillies:
"Hours after he was made the 158th overall pick, Serritella was having dinner with a Phillies representative to work out a contract. Serritella will pass up his senior year to sign."
After selecting Chris Serritella in the fourth round, the Phillies went right back to grabbing some of the draft's top high school talent by selecting one of the best prospects to come out of the Northwestern region of the United States, Andrew Pullin.
Pullin, who pitched and played the outfield in high school, has already learned that he'll be a positional player as a pro, but he won't be playing the outfield. The Phillies intend to give him a look at second base, a position they believe most adept for his skill-set.
According to The Olympian, he'll go pro and forgo a college career at the University of Oregon.
Drafted players have until July 13 to decide whether to sign, but Pullin made his decision quickly. He took the Phillies’ offer and will forgo a college career at the University of Oregon. He likely will be assigned to the Gulf Coast League Phillies, the organization’s rookie league affiliate.
Pullin said the organization is interested in moving him to second base.
“It’s been my dream to play professional baseball,” Pullin said. “I got the opportunity, and I took it.”
The signing has not become official as of yet.
The Phillies have been searching for a legitimate third base prospect for quite some time now, and while Maikel Franco could be the answer way down the road, Cameron Perkins could be a fill-in a lot sooner.
Perkins, who manned the hot corner for Purdue University, was the Phillies' sixth-round selection. While his signing has not yet become official, Purdue's official sports website reports that Perkins, along with undrafted free agent Blake Mascarello, have already joined the Phillies for minor league organization workouts.
Mascarello was not among the program-record seven Boilers drafted last week. But he was contacted by the Phillies soon after and is participating in the team's mini-camp in Clearwater, Fla.Cameron Perkins, who was selected by the Phillies in the sixth round of the Draft June 5, is also at the mini-camp.
The draft is only about a week old, but as of yet, there's been no indication that Hoby Milner intends to forgo his senior year and sign with the Phillies.
With that being said, college players drafted within the top 10 rounds of the draft very rarely pass up a professional opportunity to return to school for their senior year, and I expect Milner to sign with the Phillies.
First and foremost, he's not going to develop much more in college. He is a power lefty with a very good fastball and a solid off-speed pitch. Now it's time to see what he can do at the next level.
Josh Ludy is a graduating college senior coming off of the best season of his college career. If I had to classify any player's willingness to sign as a "slam dunk," Ludy's willingness to sign would be a slam dunk.
The season ended in disappointing fashion for Baylor University, but Ludy can look on the bright side. Outside of Sebastian Valle, he's coming into an organization without any high-end catching prospects, and if his college season translates to professional ball, he could make some noise.
As a college junior this season, Jordan Guth had the opportunity to return to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee for his senior year, and truth be told, he may have benefited from another year of amateur baseball.
However, it appears as though the Phillies and Guth had some sort of pre-draft agreement where, if he was selected before a certain round, Guth would agree to forgo his senior year and turn pro.
Guth, who didn't pitch well in college as a starter, moved to the bullpen and served as the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee's closer this season, where he pitched much better.
Heading into the season, right-handed pitcher Kevin Brady out of Clemson University had a chance to go higher than the 10th round. However, he struggled with an injury this season, and the graduating college senior slid down the draft board until the Phillies grabbed him with the 338th-overall pick.
Though he was drafted as a starter, a majority of scouts believe that his two-pitch repertoire is best suited for the bullpen professionally. He has the ability to blow a mid-90s fastball right past hitters and an average curve that could become a plus pitch.
He's very aggressive, but his command is sub-par right now, only adding to the belief that he's best suited for the bullpen, where he could develop into a late innings reliever.
The Phillies and Brady have already agreed to terms on a deal: a $125,000, straight slot bonus.
After he was drafted by the Miami Marlins in the 46th round in 2011, Zach Cooper decided against signing his first professional contract and instead returned to pitch at Central Michigan University.
It was a wise decision.
The right-handed pitcher had a nice season at Central Michigan and he climbed all the way to the 15th round, where the Phillies selected him with the 488th overall pick.
According this report from LivingstonDaily.com, Cooper has already hired an agent and plans to work out his deal with the Phillies sometime over the next week.
Cooper, who has hired an agent, expects to work out a contract with the Phillies later this week."Sunday, we'll fly to Tampa (the Phillies have a spring training complex in nearby Clearwater) to take a physical and do a light workout," he said. "They'll either send me to their short-season team in Williamsport or somewhere in their farm system."
It's been a long road for University of Arkansas shortstop Tim Carver, but the shortstop is finally on the precipice of signing his first professional contract.
Carver, who made a name for himself as a slick fielding shortstop with good speed and the ability to hit for contact, entered the draft as a fifth-year college senior.
The Phillies selected him in the 19th round of the draft, making Carver the 608th-overall pick.
He'll join an organization that has used up many draft picks on middle infielders over the last couple of seasons, including guys like Roman Quinn, Tyler Greene and others.
Shane Victorino would be proud of this pick by the Phillies.
After going undrafted as an eligible college junior in 2011, Matthew Sisto had a good year for the University of Hawaii in 2012 and found his way on to the Phillies' draft board.
They used the last pick of 20th round to draft the graduating college senior, and he should join the organization fairly quickly.
Though he has what could be considered a "power" arm, he'll rely on contact to retire hitters and has an aggressive approach on the mound.
The Phillies barely hung up the phone after informing Louisiana Tech right-handed pitcher Jeb Stefan that he had been drafted before he signed his first professional contract with the organization.
Stefan, chosen by the Phillies with the last pick of the 22nd round, signed his contract the morning after being drafted.
He'll catch the end of extended spring training in Clearwater, Florida before heading off to Williamsport to play the short season with the Crosscutters.
Stefan is an interesting pick. He's already undergone Tommy John surgery in his career, and it left him relying heavily on his fastball last season. He plans to reintroduce his curveball and changeup much more professionally.
After spending the early portion of the draft focusing on high school talents with huge ceilings, the Phillies did an excellent job of landing several top college talents later on, including right-handed pitcher Geoff Broussard.
Broussard, who was drafted with the last pick of the 23rd round by the Phillies, had an excellent season at Cal Poly Pomona in 2012 and, as a graduating college senior, should be a relatively easy sign by the Phillies.
With the final pick of the 24th round, the Phillies turned their attention to Oklahoma City University, where they selected their second catcher of the draft, Chad Carman.
Carman, who entered the draft as a fifth-year senior, is expected to join the organization.
He is considered an excellent defensive catcher with the ability to have some success at the plate as well. In my opinion, he is one of the most underrated the players drafted by the Phillies this year.
It's definitely not my favorite part of the draft by any stretch of the imagination, but it happens every year. Someone within the organization finds a way to have their kid drafted in the later rounds.
This year, it was minor league pitching coach Rod Nichols' son, Chris Nichols, who was drafted by the Phillies in the 31st round.
Nichols hasn't had a great college career. In 2012, he posted an ERA north of seven.
As a junior, he's eligible to return to the University of Sioux Falls next season, but given his ties to the Phillies and selection in spite of a bad college tenure, I just don't see that happening.
Each player listed after this slide has not made an obvious commitment to sign with the Phillies, but is expected to sign with the club before the July 13 deadline.
Personally, I was surprised to see Scott Firth to fall this low in the draft.
A right-handed pitcher out of Clemson University, Firth has a very good fastball and an average breaking ball, at the very least, good enough to get drafted in an earlier round.
As a college junior, he has the opportunity to return to Clemson for his senior season, but after being drafted by the Baltimore Orioles out of high school in the 36th round, only to climb five rounds as a collegiate athlete, I expect him to sign.
After being drafted by the New York Mets in the 48th round out of high school following his senior year, Joe Mantiply decided against turning pro, and instead attended Virginia Tech to play baseball.
That was a good decision. Eligible for the draft again as a junior, the Phillies selected Mantiply in the 28th round this time.
Mantiply, who could return to Virginia Tech for his senior year, hasn't made a decision either way yet, but judging from this reaction on his personal Twitter account, I'd say that Mantiply is leaning in a certain direction.
— Joe Mantiply (@TheRealTheseus) June 6, 2012
*Updated on July 6, 2012.
Brennan Henry has been the talk of Denver, Colorado's baseball scene ever since he first picked up a ball at the age of four.
Fast-forward several years and you've got yourself a legitimate MLB prospect. The Phillies, who drafted Henry in the 25th round, may have uncovered a diamond in the rough.
An under-the-radar selection, Henry was a member of Colorado's top 50 high school prospects during his high school career, and moved on to pitch for Northeastern Junior College in Colorado.
The left-handed pitcher has not been approached about a possible contract opportunity with the Phillies as of July 6, and is currently pitching for the Athletes in Action, a team out of Rochester, New York, playing in the New York College Baseball League.
Assuming that the sides can reach some kind of common middle ground, Henry will probably not be playing for the NYCBL for long.
Here's an excerpt from the Journal Advocate, who interviewed Henry's coach, Bryan Shepherd.
"The Phillies showed a lot of interest from the middle of the season on. He had some contact back and forth with a major league scout right before the draft and even during the first couple days of the draft," said Shepherd.
With their second pick of the second round, the Phillies made another interesting selection by picking another right-handed high school pitcher. This time, the pick was Alec Rash, a flamethrower out of Iowa.
This isn't going to be a simple sign by any means. Before the draft, Rash had fully intended to attend college in Missouri, but the Phillies grabbed him in the second round and forced him to reconsider, according to this piece from IndyStar.com.
Rash, who was watching the draft from his family’s home, was on the phone with coaches from Missouri, preparing to tell them he would be coming to college.
Then he heard his name finally called.
“I would love to go play pro baseball,” he said. “It’s just got to be right for everybody.”
There is still some indecision, but a lot of people expect Rash to turn pro, myself included.
Of all the high school players drafted by the Phillies with their first five picks, Zachary Green may be the most difficult to sign.
Green was an interesting pick on draft day. The Phillies announced him as a shortstop despite the fact that most scouts believe he'll wind up at third base.
It was definitely his bat that got him taken so high in the draft. At times, he looks like the real deal at the plate; the next big thing. At other times, he can look lost.
Green has a commitment to play college ball at Oregon State University—a strong baseball program. The Phillies will have to pay him full slot money to sign him away, but I think they will.
The nation was lucky enough to have the opportunity to watch Stony Brook University pull off an upset against one of the top teams in the nation, Louisiana State University, for an opportunity to play for the College World Series in Omaha.
Phillies fans were lucky enough to get their first glimpse of draft pick William Carmona.
Carmona, a third baseman by trade, showed excellent bat speed and certainly flashed the potential plus hit tool that led the Phillies to draft him.
There hasn't been much talk about whether or not Carmona will forgo his senior year at Stony Brook to play professionally, but all of the indications are that he will. He won't be draft too much higher than the 11th round.
I thought the Phillies made one of their best picks of the draft when they selected outfielder Zach Taylor out of Armstrong Atlantic State University in the 12th round.
After spending the early portion of Day 2 drafting high school players, the Phillies landed a couple of talented collegiate players, including Taylor.
He's shown flashes of being a five-tool outfielder and is exactly the type of player that the Phillies need to get in their system, so I think they'll make a strong push to sign him.
Steven Golden was a bit of a surprise pick for me.
The Phillies had just drafted five straight college players before selecting Golden, an outfielder out of high school in California, in the 13th round.
I was also surprised that he went so high. Golden didn't receive much press as a high school athlete and wasn't a player that many draft gurus had on their boards to go so early.
With that in mind, you have to kind of put the pieces together. For a high school player like Golden, who probably has a college commitment, you have to weigh the pros and cons. Would three or four years help you be drafted again, earlier than the 13th round?
I don't think so. My bet is that he signs.