May 272013

logo MLB Draft 2013The 2013 MLB draft is rapidly approaching, and draft boards are probably taking shape.  Mock drafts are starting to be released, and with teams starting to be connected to specific players, it’s time to start previewing which players the Phillies could be interested in.  I’ll start with pitching this week.

In the first round, the Phillies will pick 16th overall.  Next will be the 53rd pick in the second round, and they’ll have two third round picks, their own plus a compensation pick from not signing last year’s third rounder Alec Rash.  The draft pool assigned to the Phillies is a shade over $6 million, nearly $2 million more than they spent on last year’s draft.  They’ll likely spend a little more just because you have to when you’re picking 16th and not in the 40’s, but there’s little danger they’ll even approach that amount.

They doubled up on high school pitching with their first two picks last year, and it wouldn’t be surprising if they went in that direction again.  High school pitching is one of the strengths of this below average draft class, and they should be looking for the best players available.  It’s tough to say what they might do exactly because they haven’t chosen this high in a draft since they took Gavin Floyd fourth overall 12 years ago.  Here are some of the arms that stand out to me.

LHP Trey Ball, New Castle HS (Indiana): Ball is ranked higher than 16th in just about every ranking I’ve seen, so this is probably a bit of wishful thinking on my part.  He’s a true two-way player that could be a high pick pitching or hitting, but he probably is a better pitcher.  At 6’6 with two potential plus pitches, he has the size and upside the Phillies love in a high school arm.  He has some mechanical issues to work out like many in the high school ranks, but getting a player with his potential at 16th overall would be a good start to any draft.

LHP Ian Clarkin, Madison HS (California): Unlike Ball, Clarkin doesn’t fit the mold of a usual high school pitcher drafted by the Phillies.  Every site seems to have a different height listed for him, so it seems likely that he won’t be able to get much stronger and add to his 90-92 MPH fastball, but he can still work with that.  His curveball may be the best in the class among his high school peers, and he shows a bit of a feel for a changeup already with some movement and adequate dip in velocity.  He’s decently advanced for a high school pitcher.

RHP Alex Gonzalez, Oral Roberts: Gonzalez broke out in 2013, and even though he wasn’t facing the cream of the crop of the college game in the Southland Conference.  He doesn’t have the upside of a number one starter and probably not even a number two, but he’s expected to be drafted in the teens by a team looking for a safe pick.  He works with a fastball, cutter and slider, all average or above average pitches.  He throws strikes and should be durable.  His fastball can touch 94, but he’ll work in the low 90’s.

LHP Hunter Green, Warren East HS: Green on the other hand isn’t a safe pick.  His mechanics need a lot of work, but the potential reward will be too much for a team to pass up in the first or second round.  His fastball velocity has been inconsistent, ranging anywhere from 86-95, but at 6’3 or 6’4 and 180 pounds, he can get stronger and hit the higher part of that range a little more regularly.  His curveball has potential to be above average, but the most important thing for him is straightening out his delivery to be able to throw quality strikes.

RHP Hunter Harvey, Bandys HS: Harvey offers a nice mix of upside and signability; he’s not even committed to any college, so drafting him and getting him into a uniform shouldn’t be difficult.  His fastball has gotten up to the mid-90’s, and he has room on his frame to add strength and consistent velocity.  He’s shown a potential plus curveball, but he needs to make some minor adjustments to his mechanics to sharpen it up.  He doesn’t throw a third pitch at all right now.

LHP Sean Manaea, Indiana State: Once thought of as a candidate to go first overall, injuries and ineffectiveness have made Manaea maybe the draft’s biggest wild cards.  Over the off-season, he looked like an ace with a mid-90’s fastball and sharp breaking ball, but both have been more average pitches this spring.  It’s possible that if he’s not offered money worthy of a high pick, he could go back to Indiana State and hope for a smoother senior season.

RHP Adam Plutko, UCLA: Usually when the Phillies draft college starters after the first round, they tend to be more polished arms with more pitchability than stuff.  That’s where Plutko comes in.  His fastball hangs around 90 MPH, sometimes a tick above or below, and with a changeup and pair of breaking balls, he’s been very successful in one of the nation’s tougher conferences.  Once thought of as a potential first rounder, he should be available in the third round for a team looking for a pitcher that could move through the minors quickly.  In the past, he’s worked out with former Phillie Dave Coggin who now runs a performance academy for young baseball players.

RHP Ryne Stanek, Arkansas: Like Manaea, Stanek was in the early discussion to be drafted first overall, but an uneven spring has him falling on draft boards.  He still likely won’t fall to the Phillies, but it’s in the realm of possibility.  When he’s at his best, he can go upstairs with a mid-90’s fastball to record strikeouts and also bury batters with a hard breaking ball.  His stuff has been worse in his junior season, but teams could still draft him hoping they can make the adjustments he needs to pitch that way again consistently.

RHP Devin Williams, Hazelwood West HS: Williams is one more high school arm that tends to interest the Phillies.  He’s athletic and has the chance to add more velocity down the road.  Right now his fastball sits in the 90-92 MPH range, but he could add strength and add a couple ticks.  His mechanics are poor as of now, and his secondary pitches need a lot of work.   He’s one of a number of higher upside arms that will be available with the 16th pick.

LHP Tom Windle, Minnesota: Windle almost certainly isn’t a first round type pitcher like Plutko, but he’ll go to a team in the second or third rounder to a team looking for a pretty safe pitcher.  Teams are always looking for big lefties, and that gives teams hope that he could improve on his high-80’s to low-90’s fastball.   His slider and changeup are both only average pitches too, so his value lies in his ability to pound the strike zone and provide durable innings.

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Scott Grauer writes for PSC and Bus Leagues Baseball – check him out!