For the Philadelphia Phillies and all teams around baseball, the MLB amateur player draft, which takes place during the first week of June, is a chance for the team to really bolster what, in recent years, has been a barren and nearly decimated farm system.
The strength of the Phillies' farm system comes in the form of pitching, particularly left-handed pitching. In fact, since 2002, the Phillies have spent four of their six first-round picks on pitching, three of which, including Cy Young finalist Cole Hamels and minor league standout Jesse Biddle, were left-handers.
But while the pitching has been developed pretty well, many other areas, most notably at the corner outfield, have been neglected and sorely underdeveloped.
And for that reason, the Phillies should make the most of their four draft picks in the top 100 and their 16th overall pick, the highest since the team drafted Hamels in 2002.
While this draft has been considered a pitching-heavy one, there are plenty of good corner outfielders, as well as other positions, that are there to be had. There are also some standouts who might fall through the cracks and some guys with marginal talent who could end up being draft steals when all is said and done.
There are spaces throughout the minor league organization that need to be filled, and the Phillies will certainly have a group of talented guys to choose from.
So, in no particular order, here are eight position players the Phillies should consider drafting with some of their early picks.
Statistics courtesy of: Samford Baseball, Mississippi State Baseball, Stanford University Baseball, Fresno State Baseball
MLB.com Prospect Ranking: 27
Baseball America Rank (as of May 17): 29
Austin Wilson, an outfielder from Stanford University, projects as a mid- to late-first-round draft pick in most mock drafts. But because of his college experience and polished tools, he could go as early as the top 10 or as late as the second round.
Wilson has the ability to become a power-hitting corner outfielder, which is something the Phillies certainly can use both in the majors and throughout all levels of the organization.
At 6'5" and 245 pounds, he is a big guy. As a result, his power projects as a 4/5, which is a little better than average. His best tool, however, might be his ability to hit for average and make contact. On the season (28 games), Wilson has an impressive slash line of .308/.408/.514 with five home runs and seven doubles.
While he may not be the best player available when the Phillies draft, Wilson is one who fits a need in their system and fills the typical profile of someone the team has been known to draft in the past.
MLB.com Prospect Rank: 11
Baseball America Rank (as of May 17): 15
DJ Peterson projects as a first or third base prospect out of the University of New Mexico. If he is still on the board when the Phillies pick at 16, he could be someone this team heavily considers.
A right-handed batter, Peterson projects as a 6 in hitting and a 6 in power for his future scouting reports, both of which are above average. With the ability to field at high levels as well, he projects as a 6 overall.
For the Phillies, Peterson provides double the draw, as not only is he a power-hitting first baseman, but he's also a proven college product. As mentioned with Wilson, the Phillies typically draft college players, such as Peterson, as opposed to high school raw talent.
According to MLB's Jonathan Mayo, some scouts consider Peterson to be the best pure hitter in the entire 2013 draft class, and he may just slip to the Phillies.
MLB.com Prospect Ranking: 16
Baseball America Rank (as of May 17): 14
Dominic Smith, a free-swinging first base/outfield prospect out of California's Gardena Serra High School, projects as a mid-round first-round pick. With MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo projecting him to go 16th and Baseball America projecting him as the 14th-best player in the draft, Smith might still be on the board when the Phillies pick. And, if so, there could be worse things than the team drafting this RBI machine.
With an average arm and average power potential, Smith's most draftable asset is his above-average mark in hitting. In fact, he has been more of a contact versus power hitter in his four-year high school career. The expectation is that he can continue this at the minor and major league levels.
Jonathan Mayo even went so far to say that it is Smith's recognition by scouts as the best pure hitter from the high school prep ranks, which could get him drafted just outside the first half of the first round.
Smith is only 17 and won't turn 18 until after the draft in June. That said, while the Phillies may have strayed away from high school products in the past, Smith's status shouldn't deter this team that is in desperate need of anybody who can hit the cover off of the ball.
MLB.com Prospect Ranking: 21
Baseball America Rank (as of May 17): 21
Phillip Ervin, an OF prospect out of Samford University, could be someone the Phillies look to if he is still on the board in late rounds. Both MLB.com and Baseball America project that he will be off the board before the end of the first round, but some mock drafts have him going as late as the mid-second or early-third round.
Ervin has been phenomenal this season, hitting from the middle of Samford's batting order. His slash line reads .344/.466/.609. His power is graded as a 3/4 on scouting reports, but he has shown potential in his junior season to possibly max out as an average power-hitting OF.
More likely, however, Ervin will be a run-producer, as, in addition to his ability to get on base, he has speed to burn.
He is one of very few prospects that Jonathan Mayo gave a scouting grade of 8/8 to, which is the highest one can get. Ervin received the mark for his well-above-average speed. It has enabled him to play above average defense in center field, as well as score 57 runs in 54 games played.
MLB.com Prospect Ranking: 31
Baseball America Rank (as of May 17): 27
Billy McKinney is an outfield/first base prospect out of Plano West HS in Texas. He is projected to be drafted late in the first round and doesn't really have an obvious red flags that should leave him on the board for too long. That said, there is nothing necessarily spectacular about McKinney's game as well.
Grading out as average, McKinney's best tool is his hitting ability. While currently considered to have a grade of a 4, scouting grades project that McKinney's bat will develop with time and experience and that he could grade out as a 6 in this category.
McKinney projects as a corner outfielder with power but a lack of speed. He is a left-handed bat, which the Phillies have many, but at just 18 years old, the makeup of the team's offense will shift by the time he is ready to make his MLB debut.
MLB.com Prospect Ranking: 33
Baseball America Rank (as of May 17): 38
Oscar Mercado is a true shortstop defensively who has the ability to build his swing, both in contact and power, with minor league experience and further development with age. He hails from Gaither High School in Florida.
Mercado is in many ways similar to the shortstop prospect the Phillies currently have, Freddy Galvis. Both projected as above-average defenders, with Mercardo grading out as a 6 on the scale for his arm and a 6 for his future grade for his fielding. Also, like Galvis, Mercado's bat is a work in progress.
Scouting grades project that Mercado can be an average power and contact hitter. And, according to Jonathan Mayo, he is currently considered the best high school shortstop in the draft.
Because of his glove and the offensive progression he's shown in recent months, Mercado will not be on the boards long. If he is around in the second round long enough, however, the Phillies would be smart to snag him and work to develop him, despite their noted preference of selecting college hitters over high school ones.
MLB.com Prospect Ranking: 38
Baseball America Rank (as of May 17): 13
Hunter Renfroe, a college outfielder out of Mississippi State, has shown some scouts why he should be drafted just outside the top and shown others why he is a second-round pick at best. Baseball America and MLB.com also have these differing opinions of Renfroe's draft value.
Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com refers to Renfroe as being "raw and toolsy" citing potential for a strong offensive bat to follow what has already been a spectacular cannon of an arm and solid defensive abilities.
Despite concerns, Renfroe's bat has really come along this season. He batted .346 with 49 runs scored and 52 RBI. He also displayed his incredible raw power potential with 15 home runs, which paced a Mississippi State team that hit just 28 long balls.
Renfroe may not be worth the Phillies' 16th overall pick, but if he stays on the draft board into the second round or later, he would certainly be worth a look.
MLB.com Prospect Ranking: 24
Baseball America Rank (as of May 17): 30
Aaron Judge, an outfield prospect out of Fresno State, projects as a later-first-round pick at best. Although, the potential in this 6'7", absolutely towering outfielder profiles into the makeup of a major league-level right fielder, a position the Phillies are incredibly thin at.
Fresno State struggled this year on the field, but it was not at all because of a lack of contribution from Judge. The college junior displayed great overall talent, slugging 12 home runs and 15 doubles and hitting for a slash line of .372/.464/.668
Judge's scouting grades have him with the potential to grade out with a 7 on the power scale. This plus potential, combined with an average mark in hitting and running and an above-average mark in his arm strength and fielding abilities, makes Judge a very tough prospect to pass up on.
Not to mention that if the Phillies were to go down a check list of what they look for in draft picks, Judge meets nearly all of the criteria.