Last week, the annual amateur draft concluded with some changes. It was only 40 rounds instead of 50, so the conference call on the third day only lasted six hours instead of at least eight. The spending caps put in place for this draft created some interesting strategies. The Rangers, Blue Jays and Yankees, typically very aggressive in the draft, suddenly fell in love with college seniors in the second day of the draft. Why? They have no leverage, and many could be signed for $5,000. That frees up a lot of money to sign the big ticket players as well as players after the 10th round. Bud Selig justifies the spending limits as a way to make sure players are drafted in the order of talent, not signability. For the first few rounds, that was generally true. After that, it was clearly a bust. However, the commissioner still likely considers it a “win” because no matter how teams slice it, draft spending will be down.
Next week I’ll have the position players and some more general draft thoughts.
High School Right-Handed Pitchers
1. Shane Watson, Lakewood HS (California), 6’4 200, 18.80 Y.O.
After a 2011 Phillies draft that was largely devoid of prep arms, they went back to the well a lot in 2012. They led off with Watson at 40th overall, and he’s the kind of pitcher they love: big and projectable. His present fastball sits in the low 90’s and touches higher, and he has a hard curveball that could be a plus pitch. For his third pitch, he tinkers with a changeup and cutter in bullpen sessions, and either could become an adequate third pitch with more reps. His delivery is a tad aggressive which could suggest a transition to the bullpen at some point, but of course he’ll be given every chance to start. He should be extremely signable at or just below the recommended value of the pick, just shy of $1.3 million.
1. Mitch Gueller, W.F. West HS (Washington), 6’3 205, 18.56 Y.O.
The Phillies were rumored to be on Gueller in the days leading up to the draft, and when he was on the board at #54, it was all but certain he would be the pick. The Phillies have been a presence in Washington in recent years, with Kyle Kendrick and Trevor May being among the players they’ve drafted from Washington high schools. He’s a great athlete which should lead to clean mechanics down the road, and he’s just scratching the surface of his potential on the mound. His fastball velocity was up this spring in the low to mid 90’s but may not add to it much since he’s already pretty strong. His slider could develop into an above average pitch, and there’s some hope for his changeup as well. He uses his size well, pitching down in the strike zone and showing above average control.
2. Alex Rash, Adel Desoto Minburn HS (Iowa), 6’5 185, 18.20 Y.O.
Phillies activity has also increased in Iowa in recent years. It’s tough to evaluate Iowans because their high school baseball season doesn’t start until late May and runs into July. He may have the highest ceiling of any pick in this draft with three potential plus pitches. He’s very raw though, and he’s going to take some time. His delivery is going to need a lot of work so he can command his pitches which he struggles to do right now. He flashes some really good sliders and changeups, but both need a lot of work. With his big frame, he could eventually sit in the mid 90’s, but right now he’s in the 91-93 range. He was considered to be a bit of a tough sign with a commitment to Missouri, but the Phillies taking him in the second round suggest they know what it will take to get a deal done.
14. Ricky Bielski, Servite HS (California), 6’3 190, 17.60 Y.O.
Bielski likely has teammate Cole Irvin to thank for being drafted. The highly touted Irvin brought scouts to games, and Bielski as well as another Phillies pick from Servite, catcher Darrell Miller, benefit from the attention. He was certainly drafted on his own merits though, and he may even be more signable than Irvin. He’s been clocked as high as 93 MPH, and he has the projectable frame to add to that velocity down the road. According to his coach, he can command three other pitches as well. Since he won’t turn 18 until after the season, his youth is one of his best qualities.
17. David Hill, El Modena HS (California), 6’2 180, 18.02 Y.O.
Hill’s older brother John was an undrafted free agent signing by the Phillies last year. David is surely the better prospect, but they’ll have to sign him away from Long Beach State if they want him. His delivery needs to be cleaned up, but he has the athleticism to do so. His fastball sits in the 88-92 range and could increase a little bit as he gets stronger. He has a low 80’s slider and a feel for a changeup, and he throws a curveball in the low 70’s in his scouting video.
18. Tony Blanford, Boulder Creek HS (Arizona), 6’3 175, 18.77 Y.O.
It was a down year for talent in Arizona, but this Arizona State commit has impressed against top competition in the past. His frame offers projectability to add onto a current 88-90 MPH fastball. He also works with a slow curveball and shows a feel for a changeup. His curveball has plus potential, and the Phillies will likely keep him in mind when they’re distributing bonus money in the next month.
21. Drew Anderson, Galena HS, 6’3 185, 18.20 Y.O.
There is absolutely nothing about this player on the internet. I’m not even sure if he’s real, but I’ll take their word for it.
33. Kyle Cody, McDonell Central Catholic HS (Wisconsin), 6’6 215, 17.81 Y.O.
Cody was Wisconsin’s Gatorade Player of the Year, and if he were more signable, would’ve gone much higher in the draft. The Phillies surely love his huge frame that indicates strong durability and the potential to add fastball velocity. He current sits in the 88-92 range and has been clocked as high as 94. His curveball is another plus pitch, and with a productive career at Kentucky, he could be selected much higher in three years.
35. Steven Wilson, Dakota Ridge HS (Colorado), 6’3 190, 17.77 Y.O.
The Phillies have been active in Colorado in recent years, and Wilson is another product of that. His fastball ranges in the mid to high 80’s, so it’ll probably benefit him to honor his commitment to Santa Clara.
37. Daniel Starwalt, Granite HS (California), 6’3 195, 18.31 Y.O.
A back injury caused Starwalt’s stock to drop this spring, and he’s committed to Stanford and probably wasn’t signable anyway. He was once considered one of the top prospects in this high school class before the injury which decreased his fastball velocity by 5-10 MPH. His curveball and changeup both have some potential, and as long as he doesn’t get worn out with the Cardinal, he could be a much higher pick in three years.
39. Austin Norris, Trenton HS (Missouri), 6’5 175, 18.14 Y.O.
Norris is the grandson of former Phillies Assistant GM Mike Arbuckle. He went to a school without a baseball program, so scouts had to wait until American Legion season to get looks at him. He’s committed to MCC-Maple Woods, a small school with a bit of a nice baseball reputation; Albert Pujols and Logan Morrison were selected from there.
40. Eric Hanhold, East Lake HS (Florida), 6’4 190, 18.58 Y.O.
East Lake is just north of Phillies spring training in Clearwater, so team personnel were likely very familiar with him. His fastball ranges from the high 80’s to the low 90’s, and thanks to his projectable frame, he’ll likely add to that as he gets stronger. He’ll do that as a Florida Gator, one of the top programs in the country. He said he hopes the Phillies draft him again in three years.
College Right-Handed Pitchers
9. Jordan Guth, Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 6’5 200, 21.15 Y.O.
Guth didn’t have much success as one of Milwaukee’s weekend starters his first two years on campus, so he became their closer in 2012 and pitched better. The Phillies could give him another chance to start since he has the body to handle it and might have the pitches, but it wouldn’t be at all surprising if his ultimate role is in the bullpen. His fastball was in the mid 90’s as a reliever and works with three secondary pitches that lack in consistency. If he can develop a reliable breaking ball and changeup, he could start, but otherwise he’ll move through the system quickly out of the bullpen.
10. Kevin Brady, Clemson, 6’3 200, 21.73 Y.O.
Brady probably could’ve gone a few rounds earlier, but a hamstring injury late in the year hurt his draft stock as well as Clemson’s chances of getting to Omaha. He was only able to pitch in short bursts after his return and not to his familiar spot at the top of Clemson’s rotation. He really only throws two pitches, but he’ll probably get a chance to start early on his career. If he moves to a relief role, his fastball would probably sit in the mid 90’s to go along with his curveball. Once he’s in the bullpen, he could move quickly through the system as a potential set-up man.
15. Zach Cooper, Central Michigan, 5’10 185, 22.40 Y.O.
Cooper was very effective in Central Michigan’s rotation in recent years, but because of his size and command issues, he’s ticketed for the bullpen where he could become an effective reliever. In shorter bursts, his fastball could probably sit in the mid 90’s regularly, but his best pitch is his hard slider as long as he mixes both pitches in appropriate doses. He was previously drafted in the 46th round by the Marlins last year, and he’ll be off to Williamsport to open their season.
16. Nic Hanson, Golden West College, 6’7 210, 20.13 Y.O.
Hanson is one of three Phillies pitcher picks that are 6’6 or taller. Despite his size, his fastball only sits in the high 80’s, but I’m sure the Phillies hope he can increase that. He didn’t strike out many batters either, but he showed good control all season. In high school, he pitched at Edison in California that’s suddenly popped up
as a nice program, developing Red Sox first rounder Henry Owens, the Lopes brothers and the Arizona Wildcats’ ace Kurt Heyer.
20. Matt Sisto, Hawaii, 6’5 230, 22.57 Y.O.
Sisto was a reliable, durable starter for the Warriors in his four year career. Despite his big frame, his fastball velocity is underwhelming in the mid to high 80’s, but that can be good enough in the WAC. He mixes in three other pitches led by a decent changeup, and he’s always thrown a lot of strikes. He’s known for his competitiveness, and that combined with the fact that he’s short on stuff means he might work better out of the bullpen.
22. Jeb Stefan, Louisiana Tech, 6’4 225, 22.11 Y.O.
Stefan was expected to be a tough sign, but he took care of that less than a day after the draft. He struck out nearly a batter per inning in his career with the Bulldogs, but he never had much success due to his poor control. He has nice fastball velocity in the low 90’s that could possibly tick up a bit if he’s used in a relief role, and he complements it with a slider and changeup. Stefan is a former ASA intern, so he’ll likely have some options if baseball doesn’t work out. He’s expected to report to Williamsport.
23. Geoff Broussard, Cal Poly Pomona, 6’0 185, 21.69 Y.O.
Broussard was one of the most successful pitchers in Division II this year. He bounced between the Broncos’ rotation and bullpen throughout his career but finished it as the team’s best starter. He threw five complete games during the season and had a WHIP below 1.00.
30. Jordan Kipper, Central Arizona College, 6’4 185, 19.65 Y.O.
Kipper’s dad does some consulting with Dodgers minor leaguers, and that probably helped him get drafted in the 39th round last year. Kipper’s grandfather pitched for the Phillies, and that probably helped him get drafted this year. He also had a nice season at Central Arizona that included a no-hitter, and he could also have scholarship offers from TCU or Houston. He took a year off from pitching in high school by request of a doctor that saw him undergo a quick growth spurt, so it’s impressive for him to make the amount of progress he did in one year. He’s considering signing, but an opportunity at TCU could be difficult to pass up.
31. Chris Nichols, Sioux Falls, 6’2 180, 21.78 Y.O.
Nichols is the son of Lehigh Valley’s pitching coach Rod Nichols, so at the very least, he probably got some pretty good instruction growing up. He’s expected to sign after struggling mightily throughout his entire college career. He’s the first player from this university to be drafted by any professional team in any sport, so that’s a nice feather in his cap.
32. Scott Firth, Clemson, 6’0 170, 21.41 Y.O.
Firth can run his fastball up into the mid 90’s coming out of the bullpen, but his strikeout rate was never that impressive. It’s a pitch with little to no movement, and he has very little control of that or his hard slider. There’s probably a bit of potential here if he can figure out how to throw strikes. He’s worked out of the rotation and bullpen for Clemson, but he’s a reliever all the way now.
7. Hoby Milner, Texas, 6’3 165, 21.38 Y.O.
Milner was the one of the first Phillies picks to sign which isn’t surprising as a college reliever. He was versatile for the Longhorns, making 15 starts in his career, and it’s possible the Phillies give him another chance in Williamsport. He doesn’t have much fastball velocity, mostly working in the high 80’s, which isn’t too surprising with his 165 pound frame. He throws a lot of quality strikes with his curveball and changeup, and a pitcher as polished as him should be able to move through the system quickly.
25. Brennan Henry, Northeastern JC (Colorado), 6’4 200, 20.61 Y.O.
For some reason, finding information on draft picks was particularly difficult this year. Henry has been at two junior colleges in two years since graduating from high school, and he had a pretty rough time in 2012. He struck out 58 in 49.2 innings but also allowed 40 earned runs.
27. Fernando Fernandez-Beltran, Edouard Montpetit HS (Canada), 6’1 170, 17.64 Y.O.
There is little to no information about Fernandez-Beltra available online. Baseball Canada says this was a weak year for their prospects. The Phillies have taken prospects from Canada in four straight drafts, including three in a row from Quebec.
28. Joe Mantiply, Virginia Tech, 6’4 200, 21.25 Y.O.
Mantiply was Tech’s Friday starter, but his strikeout rate actually decreased every year in college. He throws in the mid to high 80’s and tries to generate groundouts with a wide array of pitches, including a two seamer, cutter, slider and changeup. He was taken out of high school by the Mets a few years ago in the 48th round, but he’ll probably sign this time around. He had a productive stint in the Cape Cod League last offseason.
29. Brad Wieck, Frank Phillips College (Texas), 6’9 255, 20.63 Y.O.
Wieck was supposed to pitch at New Mexico, but he ended up at Frank Phillips College for a reason I can’t find. Obviously, his size is a distinctive quality, and it allowed him to add fastball velocity in high school. He struck 84 in 66.2 innings which is nice. I couldn’t find anything that indicated he could go to an NCAA team next year, so maybe he’ll sign.
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