If it seems like it’s been a few years since the Philadelphia Phillies had a first-round draft pick, well, that’s because it has.
The Phillies have not had a first-round draft pick since they selected Jesse Biddle in the first round in 2010. The signings of Cliff Lee and Jonathan Papelbon for the 2011 and 2012 seasons, respectively, led to the Phillies' first selection in the past two drafts coming after the first round.
After avoiding the temptation to sign any player tied to draft pick compensation last offseason, general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. and the Phillies now hold the 16th pick in this year’s first-year player draft after finishing last season with a record of 81-81.
Will the Phillies focus on position players or look to pitchers again after selecting Shane Watson with their first pick last year? Will a high-ceiling high school player be their top choice, or are they leaning toward a college player who may reach the majors quicker?
Teams have begun locking up their star players with long-term extensions well before they reach free agency, giving the draft even more importance for teams trying to improve their future outlook. For the Phillies, it all starts with making the right picks in the 2013 MLB draft.
Track all of the Phillies' picks here:
Shortstop may not be the biggest area of need in the Phillies’ farm system, but they still may have just found their future at the position in J.P. Crawford.
Crawford, a 6’2” 175 pound shortstop with a commitment to USC, becomes only the second first round selection for the Phillies since 2010, when the team picked Jesse Biddle.
Although he must continue to develop physically, Crawford projects to be able to handle the shortstop position even at the professional levels, making a position change unlikely, according to ESPN.com (Insider subscription required).
Crawford’s arm and running ability are already at average or above-average levels, helping to make him a solid defender. The main area in need of improvement for Crawford is his offense, although his power stroke could continue to grow and he already his capable of hitting to all parts of the field, as Jonathan Mayo wrote on MLB.com.
Jimmy Rollins is still signed through 2014, and has a vesting option for 2015. 2015 could also be the year in which Crawford, a cousin of Carl Crawford of the Los Angeles Dodgers, becomes major league ready, if he surpasses a player such as Roman Quinn to become the team’s shortstop of the future, and/or if Freddy Galvis has changed positions.
While that depends on how well he progresses, at least one evaluator seems high on Crawford. Jim Callis of Baseball America had a tweet leading up to the Phillies selection regarding Crawford, and another tweet just before the Phillies made their pick:
The Phillies looked towards value with their second round pick, taking catcher Andrew Knapp from California and adding to a minor league system that entered the season with multiple highly ranked catching prospects.
Knapp, a 6’1” 192 pound catcher, was one of the most well regarded college catchers in the draft, although college catchers as a whole were a weak position in the draft.
Although Knapp was announced as a catcher, he also played first base and in the outfield for the Golden Bears prior to his junior season, as Jonathan Mayo wrote on MLB.com. Did this versatility pique the Phillies interest?
Not only was Knapp considered one of the best college catchers available, he is also a switch-hitter who saw his average make a huge jump to .350 this season, after batting .265 as a sophomore. Knapp also hit eight home runs and drove in another 41 runs this season, while drawing 27 walks and striking out 35 times, leading to a .434 OBP.
Defensively, Knapp must continue to improve if he stays behind the plate and receives more playing time at the position, but his arm strength is currently his best attribute.
With an above-average throwing arm and a bat that will continue to improve – although power is a question mark – Knapp has a chance to become a starting catcher in the major leagues, according to ESPN.com (Insider subscription required).
The Phillies have already drafted one Hall of Fame player with the last name Sandberg – although that Hall of Fame career took place with a different team – and have now drafted another player with that name in Cord Sandberg.
In continuing with the trend of drafting position players, the Phillies selected Sandberg, a 6’2” 215 pound high school center fielder. Sandberg bats and throws left-handed, and has committed to Mississippi State for next season.
However, just as every high school selection has leverage in that they can always continue on to college rather than signing with a team, Sandberg has a chance to play quarterback for Mississippi State, as Jonathan Mayo wrote on MLB.com, making for an interesting case in terms of signability.
If the Phillies are able to sign him, they will be getting a prospect who compares to Josh Hamilton in terms of size, as Mayo wrote, and one who could develop into power hitter.
Sandberg’s defensive ability is already at an average level, making his power at the plate the most intriguing aspect of his game to watch as he develops. As a tremendous athlete, he has a chance to excel in his development despite not having focused only on baseball.
In three seasons, Sandberg led his high school football team to 39 victories, and recently batted .418 for his high school baseball team, as John Lembo wrote on the Bradenton Herald.
The Phillies may have spoken to Sandberg to determine whether they think they can sign him and, if so, there’s a chance that Sandberg could eventually develop into one of the team’s best outfield prospects.
The Phillies received an additional third-round draft pick after failing to sign Alec Rash, their second-round selection from the 2012 draft.
With their additional pick, the Phillies selected Jan Hernandez, a 6’1” 195 pound infielder from the Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy in San Lorenzo, Puerto Rico.
A year after Carlos Correa went No. 1 overall to the Houston Astros, the Phillies select another talented infielder from Puerto Rico. Although Hernandez was announced as a shortstop – making him the second shortstop selected by the Phillies in their first four picks – he will likely move to third base at some point during his progression.
Hernandez’s most advanced skill so far may be his arm, which Jonathan Mayo on MLB.com writes is strong and already above-average. Offensively, Hernandez has a chance to develop average power and already has good bat speed, according to Mayo.
Hernandez tries to lift the ball, but his level swing can still lead to power over time, as PerfectGame.org notes. The site also notes that Hernandez is an aggressive base runner.
Bleacher Report’s Adam Wells writes that Hernandez’s pro comparison is Will Middlebrooks of the Boston Red Sox, and points out that Hernandez did not commit to a college, meaning there’s a good chance the Phillies will be able to sign him.
Although the Phillies entered the draft with a number of highly ranked infielders, Hernandez and Crawford give the team two more infielders who have a chance to develop into strong major league talent.
After taking Andrew Knapp in the second round, the Phillies turned to the catcher position once again, selecting Jake Sweaney with their fourth round pick.
Sweaney, a 6’2” 175 pound right-handed batter, also played wide receiver for his high school’s football team, making him not only a two-sport athlete, but also one that played a pair of positions not often played by one athlete.
As a two-sport athlete, Sweaney should be able to find a position that he can excel at regardless of whether he sticks at catcher or not.
Sweaney may develop into solid hitter but has an average skill set in most categories, meaning that he has a low floor as Thomas Belmont wrote on BaseballInstinct.com.
Back in April, Bleacher Report’s Adam Wells wrote that Sweaney has a chance to develop 20-home run power, as he was batting .462 with six home runs as of April 10, but that receiving and game-calling are two defensive areas in which he must continue to improve.
The Phillies have now selected two catchers early, but also two prospects that either have experience at other positions, or who have enough athleticism to find a way to progress through the minor league system regardless of position.
Ben Wetzler (although he was announced as Ben Holmes), becomes the first pitcher selected by the Phillies in the 2013 draft, and the second college player taken in their first five picks.
The left-handed starter had a 3.72 ERA while going 14-5 during his sophomore and freshman seasons combined, but has taken a major step forward this season as a junior.
In 14 starts for the Oregon State Beavers this year, Wetzler is 8-1 with a 1.98 ERA and 72 strikeouts in 82 innings. He has also walked 25 batters and thrown two complete games.
Wetzler was selected to the Pac-12 Conference first team this season, a year after going 8-2 with a 3.10 ERA as a sophomore. However, with another year of eligibility left, it is no guarantee that Wetzler will sign with the Phillies.
Beavers’ pitching coach Nate Yeskie was quoted in an article by John Hunt of The Oregonian on OregonLive as saying that Wetzler is not committed to leaving Oregon State.
If Wetzler does sign with the Phillies, his changeup may be his top pitch as he begins his professional career. Additionally, prior to this season Aaron Fitt of Baseball America wrote about Wetzler’s improved command and a fastball that can range from the upper-80’s to mid-90’s.
Wetzler also has a curveball, according to Fitt that, with his changeup, give him two potentially better-than-average pitches.
The Phillies found a nice pick in a past selection from Oregon State in reliever Michael Stutes, and may have found a pitcher who can stick as a starter if his command holds and his repertoire continues to improve, just as his numbers did this season.
The Phillies decided against taking an outfielder on Day 1 of the 2013 MLB Draft, but grabbed two in the first four rounds on Day 2, the second being Jason Monda from Washington State.
Monda, a 6’4” 202 pound left-handed batter and thrower, received All-Pac 12 Conference honorable mention this season as a junior. Similar to Wetzler, Monda can return for another season rather than sign with the Phillies.
In 54 games this season, Monda batted .294 with seven home runs and 40 RBI. However, one area that will need to be improved upon will be his plate discipline, as he drew just five walks while striking out 44 times, leading to a .346 OBP.
Through three seasons, Monda has 10 home runs and 78 RBI, and improved at the plate this season from the .275 batting average he had as a sophomore.
Monda also made 16 appearances as a pitcher this season, going 2-2 with a 1.57 ERA.
As a sixth-round selection, Monda could return to Washington State and try to get his batting average over the .300 mark for the first time in his career, while continuing to build on his power numbers from this season. If he does sign, however, he will enter a minor league system with few outfield prospects.
The Phillies continued to look towards position players with their Round 7 pick and, furthermore, position players who project to have a power bat as a professional.
Trey Williams, a 6’1” 210 pound third baseman, was drafted last year by the St. Louis Cardinals out of high school, but instead went to the College of the Canyons. There, the right-hander batted .333 with six home runs and 24 RBI. Similar to Monda, however, plate discipline may be an area in need of improvement, as he drew just five walks while striking out 30 times.
PerfectGame.org noted in 2012 that Williams has a signature swing as a result of his exceptional power, and that his defensive ability is solid.
Williams, who is the son of former major league player Eddie Williams, has a chance to be a .300 hitter if he can improve at the plate against breaking balls, but has no trouble against higher velocity, as Bleacher Report’s Zachary Ball wrote.
Ball also notes that Williams could eventually move to first base or a corner outfield spot, and has shown above-average arm strength.
A power bat is a great tool for a prospect to have, especially if that bat belongs to a right-handed batter in the Phillies’ minor league system.
Round 8, Pick 241: Justin Parr, Illinois, OF (6'2" 190 lbs.) - This season batted .398/.453/.576
Round 9, Pick 271: Shane Martin, Southwestern Oklahoma State U, RHP (6'4" 215 lbs.)
Round 10, Pick 301: Jon Prosinski, Seton Hall U, RHP (6' 3" 195 lbs.)
Round 11, Pick 331: Denton Key, Rye HS (Colorado), LHP (6'3" 190 lbs.)
Round 12, Pick 361: Griffin Jax, Cherry Creek HS (Colorado), RHP (6'1" 190 lbs.)
Round 13, Pick 391: Joey Martarano, Fruitland HS (Idaho), 3B (6' 4" 235 lbs.) - May also play football at Boise State
Round 14, Pick 421: Samuel Dove, Georgia Tech, 2B (6'2" 188 lbs.)
Round 15, Pick 451: Logan Pierce, Troy University, 3B (6'0" 215 lbs.)
Round 16, Pick 481: Lee Ridenhour, Austin Peay, RHP (6'3" 187 lbs.)
Round 17, Pick 511: Rob Marcello, Appalachian State, LHP (6'3" 230 lbs.)
Round 18, Pick 541: Daniel Child, Oregon State, RHP (6'5" 225 lbs.) - Potential reliever; second Oregon State pitcher taken by Phillies
Round 19, Pick 571: Matt Soren, University of Delaware, RHP (6'5" 225 lbs.)
Round 20, Pick 601: Corey Bass, U North Florida, C (5'10" 200 lbs.)
Round 21, Pick 631: Mark Meadors, Cowley County CC (Kansas), RHP (6'4" 200 lbs.)
Round 22, Pick 661: Mark Leiter, New Jersey Institute of Technology, RHP (6'0" 195 lbs.) - Son of former major league player Mark Leiter
Round 23, Pick 691: Christopher O'Hare, Fisher Col (MA), LHP (6'2" 195lbs.)
Round 24, Pick 721: Will Morris, College of Southern Nevada, RHP (6'4" 180 lbs.)
Round 25, Pick 751: Cody Forsythe, Southern Illinois University Carbondale, LHP (6'1" 175 lbs.)
Round 26, Pick 781: Christopher Burgess, Oklahoma Christian University, RHP (6'2" 210 lbs.)
Round 27, Pick 811: Tyler Buckley, University of Arkansas - Little Rock, RHP (6'5" 230 lbs.)
Round 28, Pick 841: Matthew Southard, Yavapai College (Arizona), RHP (6'9" 220 lbs.)
Round 29, Pick 871: Cavan Biggio, St. Thomas HS (Texas), 2B (6'2" 185 lbs.) - Son of former Houston Astro Craig Biggio
Round 30, Pick 901: Venn Biter, Rossview HS (Tenn.), OF (6'1" 181lbs.)
Round 31, Pick 931: Matthew Grimes, Georgia Tech, RHP (6'6" 210 lbs.)
Round 32, Pick 961: Tyler Viza, Desert Vista HS (Arizona), RHP (6'3" 180 lbs.)
Round 33, Pick 991: Harrison Musgrave, West Virginia U, LHP (6'1" 205 lbs.)
Round 34, Pick 1021: David Whitehead, Elon University, RHP (6'4" 240 lbs.)
Round 35, Pick 1051: Nick Ferdinand, University of Delaware, OF (6'1" 210 lbs.)
Round 36, Pick 1081: Dalton Dulin, Memphis University School (Tenn.), 2B (5'8" 165lbs.)
Round 37, Pick 1111: Ryley MacEachern, Salisbury School (Conn.), RHP (6'2" 213 lbs.)
Round 38, Pick 1141: Dimitri Casas, Cherry Creek HS (Colorado), RHP (6'4" 195 lbs.) - Griffin Jax, the Phillies' Round 12 pick, was also selected out of Cherry Creek HS (Colorado)
Round 39, Pick 1171: Brandon Wagner, Immaculata HS (New Jersey) 3B (6'0" 210 lbs.)
Round 40, Pick 1201: Jose Haros, San Fernando HS (Calif.) SS (6'2" 175 lbs.)