Latest Expert Predictions on Who Philadelphia Phillies Will Draft
With the 2014 MLB draft just under a week away, teams around baseball are gearing up to determine whom they will choose should the players they want fall into their laps. For the Philadelphia Phillies, this draft holds even more importance, as it will be the most crucial means to add to a thin farm system.
Although the Phillies drafted well in 2013, one year is not enough time to turn around a farm system. However, it would not be surprising to see the Phillies select a college player with a higher pick in this draft in an effort to bolster the major league roster sooner rather than later. Regardless of whom they choose, the Phillies must make it count, as they have their highest draft pick since 2000 at No. 7.
Experts throughout the baseball world have published many mock drafts indicating what they believe the Phillies—and the rest of the MLB—will do on Thursday, June 5. Here's a look at how the draft gurus see the Phillies' No. 7 pick shaking out.
RHP Aaron Nola
Experts Predicting Aaron Nola to the Phillies
As the draft has approached, more and more experts around the baseball world have suggested that LSU right-handed pitcher Aaron Nola will be drafted by the Phillies. Even Bleacher Report's Adam Wells, who did not predict Nola to be the Phillies' first pick, believes he's an ideal target for the Phillies should he still be available.
Both Manuel and Callis could also envision the Phillies choosing high school shortstop Nick Gordon should he still be available, and there's good reason to believe that could happen too. The Phillies love to draft high schoolers with their top picks—J.P. Crawford, Shane Watson, Larry Greene, Roman Quinn and Jesse Biddle were all in the high school ranks when the Phillies selected them over the last few years.
As B/R's Wells explains, Nola's delivery is a bit unorthodox and deceptive. His three-quarters arm slot and possession of two plus pitches on the scouting scale suggest he could become a top-flight starter in the major leagues. The Phillies could use someone with that kind of upside. Meanwhile, B/R's Mike Rosenbaum sees Nola as the right-hander who is the most MLB-ready and has the best command and the best changeup in this year's draft crop.
Nola seems like a perfect fit for Philadelphia should he remain available until the seventh selection.
*B/R's Mike Rosenbaum ranked East Carolina RHP Jeff Hoffman at No. 7 on his MLB Draft Big Board. However, Hoffman now requires Tommy John surgery, and, as a result, the Phillies likely won't draft him. Thus, I deferred to the No. 8 ranked player, who happens to be Nola.
LHP Kyle Freeland
Experts Predicting Kyle Freeland to the Phillies
A left-hander out of Evansville University in Indiana, Kyle Freeland is among the top southpaws available in this year's draft. It's interesting to note that the Phillies already have some familiarity with Freeland; in fact, they selected him in the 35th round of the 2011 draft.
For that reason, Mayo and Fagan see the Phillies going with Freeland. The Phillies need to hit it big with their top pick and likely have faith in Freeland. Also a college arm, Freeland would add to the Phillies' internal left-handed starting pitching depth, which includes Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels in the majors and Jesse Biddle in the minors.
Garrioch sees shortstop Nick Gordon as a potential Phillies target as well, but, due to Gordon's likely unavailability, Garrioch believes the Phillies will select an "impact college arm," which would be the case with Freeland. More importantly, B/R's Mike Rosenbaum named Freeland as the left-handed pitcher in this draft with the best command, which is usually associated with a pitcher who has little risk.
If the Phillies opt to go the left-handed route, Freeland will be one of their top options.
SS/3B Jacob Gatewood
Experts Predicting Jacob Gatewood to the Phillies
Should the Phillies decide to select a position player at No. 7, the consensus is that shortstop/third baseman Jacob Gatewood will be their pick. While pitching seems to be the Phillies' biggest internal weakness, it's not like they're especially deep throughout the rest of the system either.
Gatewood, a senior at Clovis High School in California, is currently committed to USC, but don't think a draft selection won't make him reconsider. He best fits the mold of the typical Phillies draftee based upon recent history, and the fact that B/R's Mike Rosenbaum believes he has the highest ceiling and best power of any middle infielder in this draft makes him a very attractive option. However, it is worth noting that Rosenbaum also considers Gatewood to be a bust candidate.
Perkin sees the Phillies making this selection to create a top left side of the infield, with 2013 first-round selection J.P. Crawford at shortstop and Gatewood moving to third in the long run. Wells essentially reiterates Rosenbaum's analysis, writing that he's a "boom-or-bust" kind of player with stellar bat speed and extremely raw power. It's worth noting that Perkin also complimented Gatewood's fielding.
Whether the Phillies lean toward selecting a position player in this draft—and one as volatile as Gatewood—remains to be seen. Expect Gatewood to be in play if the Phillies do look toward everyday players.
LHP Sean Newcomb
Expert Predicting Sean Newcomb to the Phillies
A left-hander out of the University of Hartford, left-hander Sean Newcomb is another top southpaw option available this year. Like Nola but with the opposite arm, Newcomb has the best changeup of any left-hander in this year's draft class and also possesses the "most helium," according to B/R's Mike Rosenbaum.
As the only draft expert predicting Newcomb to the Phillies, Crawford sees the pick as a "slight reach," but he also adds the disclaimer that outfielder Bradley Zimmer and Nola would be fits at the No. 7 slot for the Phils. In terms of percentages, Crawford sees the selection of Newcomb at 33 percent, a small lead over potential selections Nola and Freeland at 30 percent apiece. Gatewood trails far behind at 7 percent.
Newcomb has had an exceptional run leading up to this draft, but it could be fluky. However, his 6'5", 240-pound frame makes him an intimidating force on the mound, and his easygoing delivery cements that fact.
Newcomb's an option for the Phillies, though he could be drafted earlier than the team's pick.
RHP Grant Holmes
Expert Predicting Grant Holmes to the Phillies
Grant Holmes isn't the flashiest pick for the Phillies to make, but he's an interesting option. A right-hander out of Conway High School in South Carolina, Holmes is ranked as the fourth-best right-handed option and the ninth player overall in the draft by B/R's Mike Rosenbaum, so he's nothing to sneeze at.
Drenon cites reviews of Holmes by MLB.com's Jim Callis and ESPN's Keith Law as a reason for his high selection. He's consistently able to hit the high 90s with his fastball, and he can register triple digits on the gun from time to time.
B/R's Adam Wells also notes that Holmes has one of the best curveballs in the draft class. However, his 6'2" frame isn't exactly imposing, and he has little room to grow physically, so Wells doesn't envision him as anything more than a mid-rotation starter. That's not exactly the most flattering review for a possible top-10 pick.
The Phillies can probably do better than Holmes, but, as is the case with anyone left by the seventh pick, it's too early to rule him out for sure.