Philadelphia Phillies 2014 Draft Picks: Scouting Profiles and Analysis
There has been very little for Philadelphia Phillies fans to look forward to so far in 2014. Currently entrenched in a five-game losing streak and sitting dead last in the NL East at 24-33, the Phillies have hit rock bottom if there ever was a time for them to do so.
However, there is a bright spot in this time of darkness.
The MLB draft begins June 5 at 7 p.m. ET. The Phillies hold the seventh overall selection in this year's draft, their highest since 2001, when they selected Gavin Floyd with the fourth overall pick.
The only upside to losing is the higher draft pick that comes with it the following season, and the Phillies have needed this pick in the worst way. Their farm system is barren of any blue-chip prospect talent. Not only does that inhibit them from making trade acquisitions in the offseason, but it also means that little to no impact help is available in the minors for this sluggish team.
In years past, the Phillies have taken risks, generally selecting high school talent in the early rounds with high upside.
However, after the failure of recent top picks Joe Savery, Zach Collier, Anthony Hewitt and Larry Greene, the Phillies may be taking a different approach this year, per CSN Philly's Jim Salisbury. Due to the plethora of top college arms who would take less time to develop into big league pitchers, the Phillies may opt to choose a top-flight college starter at No. 7.
From the time the clock strikes 7 p.m. on Thursday through the evening of Saturday, June 7, check back here for live updates on the Phillies' draft picks as they come in. Until the first pick is announced, though, proceed to the next slide to see who the experts believe is most likely to go to the Phillies in the 2014 MLB draft.
1st-Round Pick: LSU RHP Aaron Nola
As I touched on in my slideshow from last week, the majority of experts entered the draft predicting LSU junior right-handed pitcher Aaron Nola would be selected by the Phillies.
Nola is the perfect fit for the Phillies' needs. He's a polished pitcher who had a 1.47 ERA this season with LSU, as well as an 11-1 record, 134 strikeouts, a .172 opponents' average and he issued only 27 walks. ESPN.com's Keith Law also predicts Nola will be the first starting pitcher in this year's draft class to reach the majors, which is ideal for the pitching-starved Phillies.
B/R's Mike Rosenbaum recently anointed Nola the most MLB-ready right-handed pitcher in the draft, and the righty with the best command and changeup as well. There's no doubt that, given the stats and the projection, he could be a mainstay in the Phillies' rotation for a long time.
It wouldn't be a shocker to see Nola debut in the majors in September should he sign almost immediately, but it's more likely that he will taste his first MLB action in 2015 while also competing for a rotation spot out of spring training.
2nd-Round Pick: Cal Poly LHP Matt Imhof
Continuing to buck their usual trend, the Phillies selected Cal Poly junior left-handed pitcher Matt Imhof with their second-round pick. Imhof, who's got a tall build at 6'5" yet weighs only 220 pounds, was not drafted out of high school. However, he's found his way in college, notably in 2014.
This past season for the Mustangs, Imhof fronted the rotation with a 10-4 record, 2.45 ERA and 124 strikeouts. In fact, his strikeout totals have often been among the best in the college ranks over the last couple of years, so the Phillies seem to have chosen someone who could rack up some solid strikeout numbers if his stuff translates to the majors.
Speaking of his stuff, MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo rates Imhof's fastball at a 60 on the 20-80 scale, slapping him with a 50 on both control and overall makeup. Also ranked as the draft's 44th-best prospect, Imhof has a deceptive delivery and is said to have a decent cutter-like movement on his fastball. Physically, he has plenty of room to fill out, and considering he's 6'5", the Phillies can only hope that he adds some muscle to his lanky frame.
Imhof could be an underrated dark-horse pick for the Phillies if he reaches his full potential. If not, he should still be a decent starter in the major leagues.
3rd-Round Pick: Pepperdine CF Aaron Brown
A 30th-round pick by the Cleveland Indians in the 2013 draft, Pepperdine University outfielder—and left-handed pitcher—Aaron Brown launched up the draft board after a stellar junior year at Pepperdine University. While he's able to play on both sides of the baseball, the Phillies drafted him as an outfielder, so it's assumed that's how they plan to develop him.
Brown's best tool is his arm, which MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo considers a 55 on the 20-80 scouting scale. Coming in as the 120th-best draft prospect on Mayo's top 200 draft board, Brown's also got a so-so bat and has a decent glove. His biggest weakness is his speed, coming in at just a 30 on the scale.
Should he be considered as a pitcher, Brown can throw a sinking fastball from 90 to 92 mph, while his slider can show flashes of brilliance as well. He's also got a changeup that was progressing, though it'll obviously take a backseat if Brown develops as a position player.
Mayo claims that Brown could have the ability to man center field, which is somewhat surprising if his speed is as poor as the 30 rating indicates. Nevertheless, Mayo writes that his power is raw but could be a nice tool, so perhaps that's what the Phillies liked here since they don't have a ton of power hitters in their system.
Brown's a decent pick for the Phillies, as it gives them some flexibility in both Brown's development and their own decision-making later in this draft.
4th-Round Pick: Arkansas RHP Chris Oliver
Continuing with their selections of college players, the Phillies chose University of Arkansas junior right-handed pitcher Chris Oliver in the fourth round.
It's an interesting pick—Oliver came in at No. 48 on MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo's top draft prospects, but it's possible that he fell this far due to a DUI charge a few days ago, according to The Boston Herald.
A 27th-round pick in the 2011 draft by the Baltimore Orioles, Oliver's got a very nice fastball that comes in at 65 on the scouting scale, which hits the mid-90s at its peak. At 6'4" and just 185 pounds, he has a slender build for a pitcher with an imposing frame on the mound. His slider is also a nice pitch at 55 on the scale, though his command is in need of some work.
Per Mayo, Oliver could end up as a power arm in the bullpen with two already-developed pitches, but he definitely has the potential to be a starter. The Phillies might have an underdog on their hands here. If this DUI incident winds up being a one-time issue, Oliver could end up being a very rewarding pick in the fourth round.
5th-Round Pick: Cal State Sacramento 1B Rhys Hoskins
For the first time this draft, the Phillies selected a player who does not have the potential to be a pitcher in California State University, Sacramento, first baseman Rhys Hoskins. However, the Phillies have remained adamant in selecting college players, as none of their first five draft picks have hailed from the high school level.
A junior at Cal State Sacramento, Hoskins put together a nice junior season to escalate his draft stock. This season, he batted .283 for the Hornets with three home runs and 22 RBI. Although he had a bit of a power outage in his 53 games played, MLB.com's Mayo considers Hoskins' power to be his best attribute at a 60 on the scouting scale. While he's slow, as is somewhat typical for first basemen, his glove comes in at average, so he's somewhat well-rounded.
At 6'4" and 225 pounds, Hoskins' build is a good fit at first base, though he's a bit of a pull hitter. As Mayo writes, the Phillies will have drafted him for his power potential and little else, which is reminiscent of a former Phillies fifth-rounder with a similar skill set: Ryan Howard.
Hoskins won't be knocking on the door to take Howard's job anytime soon, but his addition to the system gives the Phillies another potential power threat. He also provides a first baseman in a system without any legitimate prospects at the position, so the Phillies have continued to fill their minor league voids in this draft.
6th-Round Pick: FSU LHP Brandon Leibrandt
The son of former major league pitcher Charlie Leibrandt, the younger Liebrandt has been sidelined for most of the 2014 season for the Seminoles due to a severe bone contusion in his knee resulting from a "freak accident" while playing catch, per Jim Henry of Tallahassee.com. Unlike his father, the FSU junior is a southpaw, and at 6'4" and 205 pounds, he's got an ideal build for a pitcher.
The Phillies might have drafted him with the hope that they can sign him for less due to his injury situation. It also continues their selection of college players.
7th-Round Pick: Alabama State SS Emmanuel Marrero
A slender switch-hitting shortstop, Marrero hails from Puerto Rico. While he has some speed, he isn't much of an offensive threat, especially lacking power. However, his defense is outstanding, with his glove and arm both coming in at 60 on the scouting scale, per MLB.com's Mayo.
The 171st-best prospect in this draft, according to Mayo, he's a better hitter from the right side and likely will slot in at the bottom of a lineup. Fortunately, his defense should give him a shot at the majors, and he should be able to stick at shortstop. At six feet even and weighing 180 pounds, Marrero's got the perfect build for a shortstop who is the first player drafted from Alabama State University since 2002.
8th-Round Pick: Beech HS (TN) RHP Sam McWilliams
The Phillies' first high schooler picked in the 2014 draft, McWilliams has a commitment to Tennessee Tech, but he could be persuaded to sign with the team. At 6'7" and weighing just 190 pounds, McWilliams' frame gives him a good template to grow into as he matures.
Per Top Tenn Baseball, McWilliams is a bit awkward in his mechanics, but he can pitch into the low 90s, topping out at 94 miles per hour. His changeup is his bread and butter, sitting at 78-79 mph, and he also has a breaking ball that registers at 68-69 on the gun. He'll be a project, albeit one that could be very rewarding.
9th-Round Pick: Temple RHP Matt Hockenberry
The Phillies went with the hometown kid in drafting Hockenberry, a senior at Temple University who stands at 6'3" and weighs 200 pounds. Hailing from Hanover, Pennsylvania, Hockenberry isn't much of a strikeout machine, but he's able to limit run damage, as indicated by his 3.18 ERA in 2014.
Although he allows more hits than he should, Hockenberry has surrendered only one home run over his last two seasons and did not allow a single dinger this season. That should bode well if he makes it to Citizens Bank Park at some point in his career.
10th-Round Pick: U Texas Arlington OF Matt Shortall
With their final pick on Day 2 of the 2014 draft, the Phillies selected outfielder Matt Shortall out of the University of Texas, Arlington. A senior, Shortall lost a year due to his transferring from Tulane University following his freshman year. As a result, he's on the older side for the draft class and will turn 24 years old in October.
At 6'3" and 215 pounds, Shortall has both power potential and an ability to hit for average. Slugging 10 home runs and batting .344 with a .984 OPS in 2014, he could be a nice pick, though he won't have a lot of time to progress through the minors due to his age if he wants to remain a relevant prospect.
11th-Round Pick: Arizona State SS Drew Stankiewicz (JR)
12th-Round Pick: Cal State Bakersfield LHP Austin Davis (JR)
13th-Round Pick: Texas RHP Nathan Thornhill (JR)
14th-Round Pick: New Mexico OF Chase Harris (SR)
15th-Round Pick: Washington RHP Jared Fisher (JR)
16th-Round Pick: Barry University (FL) RHP Calvin Rayburn (SR)
17th-Round Pick: Auburn University (AL) 3B Damek Tomscha (SR)
18th-Round Pick: Purdue University (IN) C Sean McHugh (SR)
19th-Round Pick: Indiana University (IN) LHP Joey Denato (SR)
20th-Round Pick: California 2B Derek Campbell (SR)
21st-Round Pick: San Diego State 2B Tim Zier (SR)
22nd-Round Pick: Miami U (OH) RHP Ryan Powers (JR)
23rd-Round Pick: Michigan St U (MI) C Joel Fisher (SR)
24th-Round Pick: U Tampa (FL) RHP Preston Packrall (SR)
25th-Round Pick: Creighton U (NE) RHP Bryan Sova (SR)
26th-Round Pick: Furman U (SC) RHP Jacques De Gruy (SR)
27th-Round Pick: Buena Vista U (IA) LHP Scott Harris (JR)
28th-Round Pick: Chaffey College (CA) RHP Tanner Kiest (J2)
29th-Round Pick: Red Bank Catholic HS (NJ) SS Al Molina
30th-Round Pick: Hobart HS (IN) RHP Brandon Murray
31st-Round Pick: Fullerton College (CA) RHP Shane Gonzales (J2)
32nd-Round Pick: Eastern HS (NJ) OF Tom Flacco
33rd-Round Pick: Mesquite HS (AZ) RHP James Harrington
34th-Round Pick: College of Southern Nevada C Scott Tomassetti (J3)
35th-Round Pick: Moorestown HS (NJ) CF Thomas Gamble
36th-Round Pick: Pulaski Academy (AZ) C Blake Wiggins
37th-Round Pick: Oak Park & River Forest (IL) RHP Rags Rogalla
38th-Round Pick: Ardrey Kell HS (NC) RHP Kollin Schrenk
39th-Round Pick: Chaparral HS (CO) LF Keenan Eaton
40th-Round Pick: Commack HS (NY) SS Jesse Berardi