Philadelphia Phillies Bolster Infield Prospects in 2011 MLB Draft
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For many years, the Philadelphia Phillies have employed the same tactic when it comes to the MLB draft. That tactic is to draft "slot" players early and target the best athlete available regardless of position. After the first few rounds they continue to target athletes but will go "overslot" to sign a few.
For those unfamiliar with the term "slot," the Commissioner's Office makes a recommendation to each team about how much money they should spend at each slot in the draft. That recommendation is known as "slot." Signing anyone for more than that amount is known as going "overslot."
That tactic has resulted in the Phillies drafting a lot of players, usually outfielders, with a very high ceiling but who are also very raw. Sometimes this works out, like when the Phillies drafted an extremely raw Domonic Brown in 20th round of the 2006 draft, as Brown was "Baseball America's" top prospect of 2010.
Sometimes it doesn't work out, like when the Phillies took Anthony Hewitt with their first round pick in the 2008 draft. It's now his fourth year in the system and Hewitt is still toiling in A-Ball hitting just .227.
This year marked a change in their draft philosophy. The Philadelphia Phillies' farm system has been for the most part devoid of serious infield talent since Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard made it to the bigs. In addition, they just dealt their best infield prospect, first baseman Jon Singleton, to the Houston Astros.
In an apparent attempt to remedy that shortcoming, the Phillies selected infielders early and often in this year's draft. With the August 15th signing deadline having come and gone, we now know which of these players have made it into the Phillies' farm system.
Honorable Mention: Larry Greene
Is he the next Big Piece or the next Pat the Bat?
Larry Greene was selected in the sandwich round as compensation for the departure of Jayson Werth. He was the Phillies' first overall pick and signed overslot for $1,000,000.
The reason Greene is an honorable mention is not because some of the players listed in front of him have better talent. That simply is not true. In fact, Greene is considered to have the best raw power out of anyone in the draft.
Rather, Greene does not make the cut because he is not technically an infielder—yet. Greene was drafted as a left fielder and all indications are that the Phillies intend to keep him there for the time being.
However, many scouts project Greene to ultimately be better suited to play first base.
The reason is not because he lacks athleticism. The high schooler actually turned down a scholarship to play linebacker at the University of Alabama to instead pursue baseball.
Instead the thought is that as time goes on Greene may end up getting too big to handle left field and will be better suited as a slugging first baseman.
So while the Phillies hope to plug him into left field down the line, realistically it may be more likely that he is Ryan Howard's successor.
5. Cody Asche
Asche has adjusted to playing second base with relative ease.
Cody Asche was drafted by the Phillies in the fourth round as a junior out of Nebraska. He signed for near slot money at $168,300.
In college he was a third baseman who was considered to have a good bat but questionable defense.
The Phillies signed him and moved him over to second base. Surprisingly, he has stuck there very well defensively. This position plays up his bat even more, making him possibly a legitimate contender to be Utley's heir apparent.
However, so far he has struggled with the bat this year in the NY-Penn League. While he is batting under the Mendoza Line so far and hasn't show a tremendous amount of power yet, he has shown excellent plate discipline thus far, which is a good sign.
Many players struggle to adjust to wood bats their first year and it would appear that Asche is one of those players. Next season will be a more telling year for the second base convert.
4. Harold Martinez
Martinez has all the tools, now its just a matter of putting them all together at the same time.
Harold Martinez was selected late in the second round as a junior out of the University of Miami. The 6'3" third baseman signed early for near slot money of $387,000 and has been playing with the Williamsport Crosscutters ever since.
Had he been eligible, Martinez likely would have been a first round choice after his breakout sophomore season. But a disappointing junior year saw him slide to the back of the second round.
Much like his new teammate Asche, Martinez has shown very good plate discipline. More optimistically though, he has been able to maintain a .358 OBP and .703 OPS this year.
Martinez is a bit of a sleeper pick. He has all the physical tools to be a very good player, yet has been unable to consistently put them together.
The Phillies are hoping that the opportunity for Martinez to play regularly and against better competition will prove to make him their third baseman of the future.
3. Roman Quinn
In many ways, Quinn is remiscent of a young J-Roll.
Roman Quinn was the Phillies' first selection of the second round. They received the pick as part of the compensation package for the Nationals' signing of Jayson Werth.
Quinn is a high school senior with a commitment to play at Florida State who signed overslot for $775,000.
Quinn, along with the next two prospects on the list, were all selected as shortstops. All three are immensely talented and legitimately may end up as the heir to Jimmy Rollins. The reason Quinn ranks third behind the other two is because he is the least likely to end up remaining a shortstop.
Many scouts think Quinn is more likely to stick at either second base or center field.
Quinn stands at 5'10" and is said to have the best speed of any player in the draft this year. He is a switch-hitter who despite his small size has surprising pop from his bat.
So Quinn was drafted in the second round and is a short, speedy, switch-hitting shortstop with pop in his bat. Does this remind Phillies fans of anyone?
2. Mitchell Walding
Walding was a great signing day pickup.
Mitchell Walding is a high school shortstop who was drafted by the Phillies in the fifth round. He was given an overslot deal of $800,000 to forgo his commitment to the University of Oregon.
In high school, Walding was also the star quarterback for his high school team. He is 6'4", 185 lbs, athletic and very projectable.
Scouts love his swing. The left-handed batter has a refined swing that, while not hitting for a lot of power yet is expected to develop good pop down the road.
Defensively. opinions are mixed. Some scouts think he had the potential to stick at shortstop, but that he just needs daily repetitions to solidify his grasp of the position. Others think that in time he may end up shifting over to third base.
Either way the Phillies have a very talented 18-year-old kid who may feature prominently in the left side of their future infield.
1. Tyler Greene
Greene has all the tools to be a long term fixture at shortstop for the Phils
Not to be confused with the light-hitting St. Louis Cardinals utility man or the former All-Star Phillies pitcher, Tyler Greene was the last of the shortstops drafted by the Phillies this year.
Greene was considered a second round talent going into the draft but his strong college commitment to the University of Georgia caused him to slide to the 11th round.
In the end, Greene may turn out to be the Phils's steal of the draft. He was eager to go pro as he signed before the deadline and for an overslot bonus of $375,000.
Greene is considered a five-tool-player. Defensively he is further along developmentally at shortstop than Walding or Quinn. He has good speed and a strong but erratic arm.
Offensively he is more raw. He has shown flashes of raw power that he is expected to further harness as he progresses through the minors.
Since signing, he joined Martinez and Asche to form the core of the Crosscutters infield. In only ten games so far he has posted a .349 OBP with a .710 OPS.
The biggest knock right now against Greene offensively his is lack of plate discipline. Scouts say that Greene has extremely quick wrists and as a result at times he finds himself hacking at everything. As he faces better competition and plays daily he should learn better strike zone judgement.
With the departures of Jon Singleton and Domingo Santana to the Astros, do not be surprised if this offseason finds Greene as one of the top position player prospects in the Phillies' farm system.