With the hitters out of the way, it’s time to get to the pitchers taken in this year’s draft. It took them a few picks to finally take one, and it’s clear that the organization opted to focus on position players last week. This was interesting because the strength of this draft was considered to be the pitching, particularly in the college ranks. The Phillies opted to depart from the conventional wisdom, and in a few years, we’ll see if it paid off.
Right handed pitchers
7. Kenny Giles, Yavapai JC, 6’2 188
The team’s first RHP is going to be a reliever. He has to work out some command issues, but his stuff is what makes him interesting to teams. His fastball has improved to the mid 90’s range and has even hit 99 in the past. He’s working on a splitter and slider, and he has some potential if he can develop one of those pitches into a quality second offering. Despite being taken out of a junior college, he’s pretty raw and probably won’t advance through the system quickly. He struck out 67 batters in 38 innings for Yavapai last year, and although he’s committed to a very good program in Arizona, Giles should sign.
12. Yacksel Rios, Dra Conchita Cuevas HS (Puerto Rico) 6’3 185
Another recent pitcher taken by the Phillies out of Puerto Rico, Julio Rodriguez, is having soem nice success in the lower minors, and the Phillies hope they got another steal. He throws in the low 90’s now, and with his frame, he has projection and could add more velocity. There’s not much info on Rios’ secondary pitches, and the mlb.com scouting video only shows him throwing fastballs. He signed already, and he’ll start his pro career in the GCL. He could take some time to develop.
13. Colton Murray, Kansas, 6’0 195
Like Giles, Murray is a guy that’s definitely a pro reliever after making 80 relief appearances at Kansas. Despite being on the small size for a righty, Murray has some nice fastball velocity in the 91-94 MPH range. His career at Kansas was pretty mediocre. He allowed a lot of baserunners in his freshman and sophomore seasons with nice strikeout numbers, and it was on the Cape Cod League in 2010 where he really got on the radar with 25 strikeouts and one earned run in 19 innings. His junior year with the Jayhawks wasn’t quite as good as that, but he adds a slider to go along with his fastball and could move through a system quickly. He hasn’t signed yet, but he should soon.
17. Jesen Dygestile-Therrien, Ahuntsic College (Canada) 6’2 200
JDT was a 36th round pick by the Mets last year, and he went to college for a year and improved his fastball velocity. He’s committed to Howard JC in Texas, and because he’s still really young, he’s probably not guaranteed to sign. The Phillies probably got a look at him when the Canadian junior team faced the DSL Phillies in an exhibition. His fastball currently sits 88-90, and at his size, he could probably add a little more.
23. Cody Fick, Evansville, 6’0 200
Fick is a bit of an older player, already 23 years old. He’s had a great career as a two way player, leading his teams at the plate as a third baseman while also contributing in the rotation. His pitching career was sidetracked when he needed thoracic outlet syndrome surgery, and it took him awhile to get back to speed on the mound. In his senior year at Evansville, he posted a 2.36 ERA in 11 starts. His fastball sat in the 89-90 range and had a few too many walks, but it’s possible he improves as a professional as more time passes since his surgery. He already signed, and he could start for Williamsport or work out of their bullpen.
24. Matt Campbell, Florida, 6’2 195
Campbell wasn’t on the Florida baseball team when he enrolled at the university. He started off pitching for Florida’s club team, and he walked onto the real squad his junior year in 2010. He was drafted late by Cincinnati but returned to the Gators for another year. Statistically, he hasn’t been good in limited action in either season, so scouts and their coaching staff obviously see something that goes beyond his bad statistics.
25. Ryan Duke, Oklahoma, 6’0 180
Duke is another small right handed reliever selected by the Phillies. He has average velocity but commands it very well, and he compliments it with an above average slider. He started for the Sooners his freshman year, but they decided his stuff would play better in the bullpen. He recorded 35 saves in his Oklahoma career, but his statistics actually got worse after his sophomore season. In the Cape Cod League last season, he struck out 15 batters in 10.2 IP and only allowed two earned runs. He already signed, and he’ll pitch out of Williamsport’s bullpen.
26. Michael Rocha, Oklahoma, 5’11 210
Like his Sooner teammate Duke, Michael Rocha doesn’t have the body you’d expect from a right handed pitcher. For much of his first 2.5 years with the Sooners, Rocha didn’t live up to expectations. He spent some time in the rotation and the bullpen, and his erratic play led him to being left off the travel roster for a series against Texas Tech last season. That turned around his Oklahoma career, and he’s dominated since. He was great in 2011 and very durable, pitching 113 innings. He finished his career ranked 3rd in program history in wins, and even though he hasn’t signed yet, he should soon.
28. Ian Durham, California Lutheran, 6’4 200
Durham was mostly a reliever in college with a handful of starts mixed in throughout his career. He had 132 strikeouts in 132.2 career IP, but he was generally hittable. He signed already, and he’ll probably work out of Williamsport’s bullpen.
29. Paul Cusick, Penn, 6’3 195
Cusick is the first Quaker drafted since 2004. He grew up as a Phillies fan and was named Ivy League pitcher of the year. In his first three years at Penn, he struggled in a role that saw him pitch in relief and in the rotation, but it came together in his senior season. He cut down on his hits and walks and increased his K rate which was already very good. Cusick has already signed.
30. Greg Herbst, St. Mary’s (Texas) 6’6 235
Herbst returned to the mound in his senior year at St. Mary’s after not pitching since high school. After two unsuccessful years at Kansas, he transferred to St. Mary’s, where he still played the field exclusively in his junior season. His offensive stats were way down when he became a two way player, but it’s his arm that got him drafted. He struck out 85 batters in 94.1 IP with a 1.27 WHIP. He’ll need to cut down on his walks, but it was an impressive season for a guy that hadn’t pitched for a few years. As far as college seniors drafted in the 30th round go, he’s probably one of the more interesting ones.
36. Brandon Hayden, Wilmot Union HS (Wisconsin) 6’5 215
Baseball America wrote that Hayden is the best high school prospect in Wisconsin this year, but that’s probably not saying much in most years. He’s big, but he’s still lacking in fastball velocity, sitting in the 85-88 range. He has the frame for future projection, but it’s probably best for him to go to Virginia Tech and develop. He’s also a very good third baseman, but more scouts prefer him as a pitcher.
37. Mike Nastold, Louisville, 6’4 220
He’s listed as a senior on mlb.com, but Nastold actually just finished up his redshirt sophomore year. He missed all of 2010 due to Tommy John surgery, and after a strong start to 2011, he tailed off which isn’t surprising. His overall statistics weren’t very good, but with a 90-92 MPH fastball with sink and a curveball, scouts believe he could have promise. Since he just completed his sophomore year, he’s not an easy sign like a lot of 33rd round college players would be. At 21 years old, he could go back to Louisville and improve his stock.
39. Timothy Ponto, Owen J. Roberts HS (Pennsylvania) 6’7 205
This local product grew up a Phillies fan, and he’s committed to St. Joe’s. He works with a fastball in the 88-91 range, a curveball and a splitter, and he’s been the ace of their staff for two years. It’s probably best for him to go to college, but players that tall frequently have mechanical problems. If he grows any more, and he’s already huge, repeating mechanics and developing consistency could be difficult.
41. Austin Dicharry, Texas, 6’4 195
Coming out of high school, Dicharry was expected to become a really good prospect, but he hasn’t pitched many innings due to injuries. He’s battled shoulder injuries over the last couple years which isn’t surprising for a Texas pitcher. He still has some eligibility left, but he may want to sign to avoid further abuse at the hands of the Texas coaching staff.
45. A.J. Ladwig, Millard West HS (Nebraska) 6’5 180
Baseball America expects Ladwig to follow through with his commitment to Wichita State. His fastball sits in the mid 80’s and touches higher, he has a nice slider and better command than most high schoolers.
50. Kolya Stephenson, Ocean City HS (New Jersey) 6’0 195
Phillies fans are familiar with Stephenson’s dad, Dan, the team’s manager of video productions. He got some attention as the last pick in the draft, and of course it’s rare for these players to even sign. No player selected last has ever advanced very far in the minors, let alone reach the majors. He’s committed to Alvernia University, and as far as I can tell, no player from Alvernia has ever been taken in the draft.
Left handed pitchers
3. Adam Morgan, Alabama, 6’1 195
Morgan was the first pitcher selected by the Phillies, and it’s the kind of pick they’ve made before in the 3rd and 4th rounds. He may be a bit short on stuff, but he’s competitive and has nice control. At Alabama, he wasn’t very consistent, and his statistics bear that our with a 4.64 ERA in the 2011 season. His velocity fluctuates, and on his best days he’ll consistently sit in the low 90’s and show an above average slider and average changeup. On other days, he’ll struggle to get out of the high 80’s. He has some injury concerns due to his delivery, and he’ll have to make some adjustments as a professional. He should sign quickly.
8. Austin Wright, Mississippi, 6’3 220
Six years ago, the Phillies took another pretty big lefty from Mississippi in the top 10 rounds, Matt Maloney, now with Cincinnati. Wright is a bit different though. He didn’t perform as well in college, and he doesn’t have the command and control of Maloney. Wright has much more fastball velocity, sitting in the low 90’s, and he has a decent curveball. If he can develop a third pitch, he can start as a professional, but he might end up as a reliever. Before pitching for Mississippi, he pitched for Chipola JC and showed command problems, but he cut down his walks in the SEC. Signing him should not be an issue.
27. Braden Shull, Mount Pleasant HS (Iowa) 6’6 215
In the 27th round, the Phillies finally took their first US-born high school pitcher. Obviously he’s not the same kind of pitcher or he would’ve been drafted much sooner, but his lefty frame is pretty similar to last year’s first rounder, Jesse Biddle. His fastball is in the 90-91 range, and thanks to Iowa’s odd high school baseball schedule that doesn’t end until late July, the Phillies will have plenty of time to evaluate him before making an offer that could entice him away from Kansas State. Last year, the Phillies drafted an Iowan high schooler late, Jonathan Musser, and were able to sign him, so this one is worth watching at the signing deadline.
35. Kyle Freeland, Thomas Jefferson HS (Colorado) 6’3 170
Freeland attended the same high school former Phillie Tommy Green did. Last year, the Phillies took a high school pitcher from Colorado pretty late, Kevin Walter, and signed him, so we’ll see what happens here. He had an incredible senior season where he led the state in strikeouts. He was so dominant, he struck out more than twice as many batters as second place. He was a great hitter too, and he’s committed to Evansville for next season.
38. Brett Maggard, Hernando HS (Florida) 6’2 190
Maggard is committed to St. Johns River State College. He led Hernando HS to the state semifinals before losing to Jesuit HS, one of the best programs in the state.
42. Andre Kinder, Peru State (Nebraska) 6’1 195
As far as I can tell, Kinder is the first player drafted out of this school. He had a 4.06 ERA in 64.1 IP and apparently throws hard. I’m sure he’ll sign.
44. Nevin Wilson, Chaparral HS (Arizona) 6’2 175
Wilson is committed to Arkansas. His fastball sits in the high 80’s, and he has a curveball in the mid 70’s.
The Phillies must feel comfortable with their pitching depth already in the system because they didn’t do much to add to it with this draft class. Pitchers like Giles have some upside as relievers, but of course relief prospects face an uphill battle to make an impact in the majors. Even the college pitchers taken in the top 10 rounds aren’t the typical pitchers drafted out of college. They come with some risks, and they might not advance through the system quickly. Of course, it’s possible they have more upside than college pitchers taken in that range usually do. The strength of this pitching class will come down to if they can sign some of the high school picks they selected later in the draft.
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