This is the biggest portion of the draft in terms of things to discuss, so lets get right to it.
R9 (286) — Cody Overbeck, 3B — Mississippi
[BA = 8th in MS, PGC = 7th in MS]
large version here.
Info: Overeck rebounded from a sluggish 2007 season to finish strong in 2008, hitting .356 and finishing with 33 extra base hits, including 17 HR. A free swinger (16 BB in 253 AB his senior year), he struck out a fair bit, but he also managed to get hit 19 times…it’s a skill you know. Anyway, his pre-draft reports were fairly favorable.
An average defensive player, Overbeck might profile better at second base in the pros. He has a hitch in his swing that will prevent him for hitting for the power necessary at the next level.
He made huge strides in addressing the shortcomings in his game in the fall, particularly in the field. He played third base flawlessly and confidently with average defensive tools and above-average arm strength. He burst out of the gates this spring with the bat for the Rebels, hitting in the 3-hole and showing above-average power to all fields. He’s a marginal runner with 6.9 second speed in the 60
Overbeck was locked in at the plate early in the season, but was slowed by a stress fracture in his right tibia that required him to wear a boot for a couple of weeks. He was back to full speed by May and topped the Rebels in the regular season in batting (.362), doubles (16) home runs (14) and RBIs (47). He handled all pitches well and drove balls hard to all fields. His greatest strides this season, though, came in the field as he cut his errors in half, displayed soft, sure hands, learned to play hops more smoothly and came in on balls better. He turned a potential liability into an asset
– PG Crosschecker, May 2008.
Examining Overbeck tool-by-tool and you might not be all that impressed, but the whole is definitely greater than the sum of its parts. He can swing the bat — with some power — and that’s the skill that could carry him to the big leagues. Defensively, he may be the type who moves around a bit, some at third, some at first, but he could develop into a Kevin Millar type in the future.
Scouting video here
Short compact swing, nothing fancy. And its not difficult to figure out the HBP totals. He’s literally standing on top of the plate. Good plate coverage at least…
Take: I wasn’t really fond of this pick at first, to be honest. Overbeck didn’t really flash great plate discipline in college, and his OB% was helped by the massive HBP total he racked up. His pro debut was kind of similar, only 12 walks to 65 K, but he did flash impressive power, racking up 18 doubles and 12 HR in a very pitcher friendly league. An ISO of .187 in the NYPL is good, even for a college senior. The question for me is “what does he become at the next level…?” and I really don’t know. His defense improved at 3B, but he’s likely only a tick below average there in the pros, and he did commit 17 errors in 75 games….but minor league fielding stats…yeah anyway. So, does he play 2B? Does he end up at 1B? Then you factor in that he’s a college senior. So he should move quickly. Does he go to Clearwater and play 3B and Mattair repeats Lakewood? Does he go to Lakewood? Does he move to 2B or 1B next season? In the 9th round, I would have liked someone with a bit more upside, but he does have pop in his bat. The lack of walks is a big red flag for me based on his age. If he doesn’t make more contact, you’re kind of talking about a .250ish hitter at the big league level, and without the walks, you’re looking at like a .310 OB%. That’s not gonna cut it, especially at 1B if that’s where he has to end up. I hate to sound completely down on the pick, because the power is nice, but I just don’t really know where he fits. I understand the pick, they took a ton of high school kids in the first 10 rounds. I hope he can stick at 3B, I hope he can maybe be a bit more selective at the plate and continue to hit for power. We’ll see.
R8 (256) — Julio Rodriguez, RHP — Puerto Rico Baseball Academy
[BA = 7th in P.R., PGC = 10th in P.R.]
large version here.
Info: The Puerto Rico Baseball Academy seems to have produced a lot more draftees of late, and this year was no different. Rodriguez had some minor injury concerns this spring, which made him tough to evaluate for scouts. The reports indicate some upside, but also a lot of uncertainty.
Righthander Julio Rodriguez sat at 83-86 mph earlier in the year, but touched 90 in May and reportedly has been as high as 92, which has caught the attention of scouts. Throwing from an over-the-top arm slot, the 6-foot-4, 200-pound Rodriguez projects to have a plus fastball. Reports on the quality of his curveball are mixed. His changeup is a fringe-average pitch. Where Rodriguez goes in the draft depends on how many looks a team got on him and when those looks came.
Rodriguez could be the top pitching prospect from Puerto Rico this spring. He has a pro-profile body at 6-foot-4 and 200 pounds, and looks to be still growing and getting stronger. Rodriguez attends the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy, where many of the top prospects from the island have trained and gone to school in recent years, so scouts will have a good chance to fully evaluate him. Rodriguez has a long, loose arm action and little effort to his delivery. His fastball has been up to 91 mph and his breaking ball gets good spin and depth but will need to be speeded up from its current upper-60s velocity.
Rodriguez has had persistent low grade elbow soreness all spring and hasn’t been able to consistently throw or show his previous velocity. His size and arm strength stand out, but there are still many questions to be answered
Scouting video here
Fairly straight forward stuff. He’s got a great pitcher’s frame, and his motion has lots of arms and knees, which could probably create some deception. His fastball has decent life, and the Phillies are probably banking on him adding velo as he fills out his frame. The only thing I really noticed, from the side, is that it seems that he hangs over the rubber for a split second, which might be holding back some of his velocity.
Take: To be honest, I had no clue who he was when the Phillies drafted him. His medicals seem less than stellar, but if its just a minor issue, then ok. His debut was, how can I put this, not very good, but how much weight do you put in 10 innings? I’d say close to zero. 3 HR in 10 innings isn’t fun though. Anyway, he’s obviously a project, I’d be he repeats the GCL next year unless he just lights up the world in Instructs and looks awesome in the spring. If he fills out his frame and adds 2-3 mph on his fastball and can tighten his curveball, we might have something. The Phillies seem to do a decent job with projectable RHP (Myers and Madson come to mind), so we’ll see what happens here. Its going to be a slow road for Rodriguez, but assuming he’s healthy next year, he should be a fun one to monitor over the summer.
R7 (226) — Johnny Coy, 3B — Benton HS, Missouri
[Did Not Sign -- Arizona State]
[BA = 13th in MO, 6th in MO]
Info: Maybe I was surprised by the Rodriguez pick because I was still trying to figure out who Johnny Coy was. He was really off the radar for me prior to draft day, and after doing some reading, I found out it was really because he was a better basketball player with a strong college commitment to Arizona State. BA was less bullish on him than PGC, as you’ll see here
Outfielder Johnny Coy is an Arizona State basketball recruit. He’s athletic and has a lot of projectable power in his 6-foot-7, 190-pound frame, but he’s raw in all facets of the game. Coy is considered more signable than Kansas State football recruit Joe Kassanavoid, who may be done with baseball
Coy is better known as a basketball player and was a Missouri 6-A first-team all-state forward. He has signed a basketball scholarship with Arizona State. But Coy has huge power with the bat and surprising hitting skills for his size and length. He hit .650 with 11 home runs this spring, many of them tape-measure shots, and .479-10-52 as a junior. He plays third base now but worked out with teams as a left fielder. Coy’s interest in baseball seems sincere as he missed large stretches of the AAU summer basketball circuit the past two years while playing summer baseball. Numerous published articles in local newspapers quote Coy and his family as saying they are very serious about baseball and would consider signing “for anything in the 8th round or better.”
Take: The Coy situation was kind of odd. He’s another tool shed, but his basketball prowess seemed to complicate things. Right after the draft, the indications were that he’d be signable. He said “8th round or better”, and the Phillies popped him in the 7th round. As I’ve noted before, the Commish’s recommendation after the 5th round is “no more than 150K”, and anything over 150K is considered above slot. Bonuses in these rounds range from $25K to a million dollars, but most fall in the $85-150K range. But it appears that after being drafted, Coy started to get bigger ideas, and eventually the Phillies passed. Rumors were flying around on what he wanted, bonus wise, and the Phillies categorized it as “through the roof” after the deadline had passed. I could read the entire situation in a few different ways. 1.) He expected not to be drafted, and he wanted to get drafted for the experience, so he told teams he’d be signable. Then when he got drafted, he realized he didn’t really want to play just baseball. So he raised his asking price significantly, effectively pricing himself out of the Phillies plans. 2.) His asking price was always high, the Phillies mis-read the situation, and nothing could be done. I’m going with choice #1. I’m disappointed he didn’t sign, he seems to have huge tools, but it feels like the Phillies had an idea what it would take, they took him in the spot where that money lined up, then after the draft, Coy decided he was worth more, much more, and the target moved. The Phillies drafted tons of raw kids, Coy would have added to that mix, but I can’t fault the Phillies if they had the target moved on them after the draft. Could they have seen it coming? I don’t know. It kind of stinks losing a 7th rounder, but that’s life.
R6 (196) — Colby Shreve, RHP — CC of Southern Nevada
[BA = 8th in NV, PGC = 7th in NV]
large version here.
Info: The Braves drafted Shreve in the 8th round of the 2007 draft after a year at CCSN, but he chose to instead to return for his sophomore season and re-enter the draft in 2008. He was lighting up the circuit and making waves, then suffered an injury and it was announced prior to the draft that he’d need Tommy John surgery. The Shreve situation parallels the Nick Adenhart situation in 2004. Adenhart was a first round talent but it was announced in May of that year that he’d need Tommy John surgery. He slid to the Angels in the 14th round, where they grabbed him and signed him for $710K and allowed him to rehab. Adenhart ascended to the top of the Angels prospect lists over the last few seasons and into the Top 30-40 prospects in the game. Shreve was ranked the 4th best prospect in Nevada before the 2007 draft, 165th overall, by Baseball America and 2nd in NV by PGC. Here’s what was said about him prior to the 2008 draft
CCSN’s Colby Shreve, an unsigned eighth-round pick last year of the Braves, was in the running to be the top juco prospect in the country this spring, reaching 94 mph consistently and showing a solid-average slider. Shreve’s mechanics left something to be desired for some scouts, so they weren’t surprised when he went down at midseason with an elbow injury. He wound up having Tommy John surgery, and while he has an Arkansas commitment, many expect Shreve to sign and still get a six-figure signing bonus despite the surgery—much as Nick Adenhart did with the Angels in 2004.
He made huge strides again this off-season in the development of his two secondary pitches—a sharp-breaking slider and a plus changeup—giving him three above-average pitches. Shreve pitches with an above-average, 90-92 mph fastball that has touched 95. In high school he was primarily in the mid-80s, a speed that turned scouts away and sent him on to junior college. Shreve is a long-bodied, athletic pitcher, who at one time was also considered a prospect as a hitter. He went 5-2, 2.68 with 55 strikeouts in 54 innings as a freshman at CCSN. His makeup is also a highly-touted attribute. With his present-day stuff, projectability and intangibles, he is now entrenched as the top junior college pitcher in the country. He committed in the early-signing period to Arkansas
The surgery was successful but Shreve is expected to be out of action for at least a year. How it impacts his draft status is unclear, but he no longer is in line to be an early-round pick or receive anywhere near the signing bonus he might have expected. Prior to the injury, Shreve showed scouts three plus pitches, including his 92-95 mph fastball that he commanded well and sustained deep into games. His biggest improvement, however, came in the development of his secondary pitches, particularly his breaking ball
– PG Crosschecker, May 2008
Scouting video here
There is some effort in his delivery and he was throwing slightly across his body, but as you can see, the ball jumps out of his hand. His fastball is fairly straight, but his velo is plus, and if the secondary pitches really do improve and become average to plus, we’re looking at a special arm here. Of course, Tommy John surgery isn’t good, but its become kind of commonplace (which I don’t like), so its not the end of the world.
Take: Shreve was looking like a first round pick, so to get him in the 6th round and sign him was gravy. $400K was the recommended slot value for the 94th overall pick, which came in the third round this year. So it was an above slot deal by a nice margin, and it showed real ambition on the Phillies part. There’s no doubt in my mind this was a pre-draft deal, and they just had to hope he would get to them in the right spot. If he fully recovers, the Phillies essentially got themselves a 1st/2nd round caliber arm in the 6th round, for 3rd round money. How can you argue with that? He had the surgery in May, so I’ll take a guess that he’s back on a mound sometime in July, probably in the GCL or Williamsport, and 2010 is the real target. If he hadn’t gotten hurt, 2009 would have been his junior year of college, meaning 2010 would have been his first full season as a pro, if you want to think about it like. In that case, he’s not terribly behind the curve, and with his raw stuff, he could move quickly once he’s healthy again. I love this pick. A lot.
R5 (166) — Jeremy Hamilton, 1B — Wright State
[BA = 2nd in OH, 104 overall, PGC = 2nd in OH, 168 overall]
large version here.
Info: Hamilton was an atypical 1B, in that he didn’t have a lot of power, but he was very good defensively and was good at getting on base. This kind of fits with the pattern I’d identified earlier, with the Phillies targeting guys who might be undervalued for one reason or another, in this case, a 1B without a lot of power. Despite this “deficiency”, BA had him right on the outside of the Top 100, with PGC downgrading him a bit more than that. Anyway, here’s what was said about Hamilton pre-draft
Hamilton is one of the best pure hitters in the 2008 draft. The Horizon League player of the year, he ended the regular season batting .413/.516/.738 with more walks (36) than strikeouts (25). He excels at driving balls to the opposite-field gap in left-center. Though he hit .209 as a reserve with Team USA last summer, there’s little worry about his ability to hit with wood bats. The concern is whether he’ll hit for the power teams want in a first baseman, as he’s not very big (6-foot-1, 185 pounds) and doesn’t pull many pitches. Hamilton is more in the Mark Grace mold, including the Gold Glove potential. His hands are soft and he may be the best defensive first baseman in the draft. Hamilton lacks the speed and athleticism to play the outfield at the pro level, though that was his primary position with the U.S. national team.
Hamilton lacks a physical presence at first base and will need to add weight and get stronger in order to drive balls consistently at the next level. Though he stays inside the ball well, his swing is geared more towards contact. He has good strike-zone awareness but will need to incorporate more of his lower body in his swing to add power. Despite his lack of size, Hamilton is an outstanding defender at first base. He has the smooth hands and feet to play the position like he’s a middle infielder. He’s played the outfield on occasion but his speed (7.20 in the 60) and a marginal arm are not assets at that position. He has good leadership skills and loves to play the game
Hamilton recovered from a slow start this season to hit .413-9-48, while leading his team in slugging average (.738) and on-base percentage (.516). His stock climbed steadily through the course of the season as his bat warmed up, but a split camp remains among scouts on where he’ll be drafted. While he showed pure hitting skills, rarely took a bad swing and displayed Gold Glove-ability at first base, Hamilton still did not show the raw strength to hit with power, though he demonstrated greater ability to drive balls to the opposite field than in the past. More and more scouts expect he’ll end up in the outfield if his power doesn’t evolve, but he spent all of 2008 at first base
- PG Crosschecker, May 2008
Scouting Video here
Hamilton really does look like a 2B or SS fielding the position at first, very fluid and smooth. At the plate, he has a very wide base and little stride, which probably explains the lack of power…and he’s really just not all that big.
Take: I loved the pick on first glance. As you know by now, I’m a big proponent of weighing on base percentage above all else, its that important a skill, and Hamilton had it in spades. But the lack of power at 1B is going to turn off lots of scouts. His pro debut was, well, forgettable. He started in Williamsport, and while he kept drawing walks at a solid rate, he hit for very little power and hit only .202 in 129 AB’s. BA indicated there was little worry that he’d hit with wood bats, but he certainly struggled in a league where he should have more than held his own, considering his age and experience. Upon his demotion to the GCL, he hit for average but still didn’t show any power. This brings us to here and now. Hamilton really is an odd player. He’s a gold glove caliber defender at 1B, but his bat is that of a middle infielder. They compare him to Mark Grace, as a comp. Grace’s career line was .303/.383/.442, an ISO of .139 at 1B is generally not acceptable unless you are a gold glove defender, which Grace was, and unless you can hit for average. Grace was always good for 30-35 doubles a season and maxed out at 17 HR in one season. He also won 4 gold gloves. But right now, Hamilton has a long way to go before he’s resembling Mark Grace. He clearly just didn’t adjust well to pro ball his first time around. The Phillies are exceptionally weak at 1B in terms of legit prospects, so I see no reason why he can’t stay there. His bat really won’t play in an outfield corner either, so it seems logical to leave him at 1B and just let him move up the chain. Realistically, considering his age, he should move fast, but its probably best to send him to Lakewood and see what he can give you. I’m not writing off Hamilton yet, he got off to a very slow start, but lets see what he does in a full season league.
R4 (136) — Trevor May, RHP — Kelso HS (Washington)
[BA = 1 in WA, PGC = 1 in WA, 180 overall]
large version here.
Info: May was the consensus best prospect in Washington, bringing back memories of last year’s draft when the Phillies nabbed Julian Sampson, considered the best or second best prep prospect in the state. Like Sampson, May is a projectable righthander with a feel for pitching. May signed for $375K in the 4th round, a little over $150,000 above the recommended slot. Again, the Phillies being aggressive. The reports on him were favorable pre-draft
While righthander Trevor May is the top prospect in the state, the bulk of the top players in Washington were position players. May stood out from the crowd for showing a three-pitch mix and solid velocity. He got scouts excited by flashing 92 mph early (with some reports of 94), then settled into the 87-90 range more consistently, and in general was better early in the season. His curveball was his best pitch and could be above-average in the future as he adds power. He has a feel for throwing it for strikes or burying it as a chase pitch. May’s arm works well, though he has some maintenance in his delivery, making it difficult for him to repeat. He’s rangy and has decent athletic ability. He was asking for first-five-rounds money to keep him from going to Washington, and a team that got him crosschecked on a good day could take him as high as the third round.
May worked consistently in the 88-91 mph range during the season, occasionally approaching the mid-90s, but he has obvious upside in his extra-large frame though his exaggerated, high-pump delivery lacks rhythm and he struggle with his command on occasion. But he is generally in the strike zone with three solid-average pitches, including a projectable 71-76 mph breaking ball with three-quarters break. His change was not as consistently good this season as it was a year ago, but has promise. Though May ranks No. 1 among Washington players for the draft on talent, he’s not a slam dunk to be the first pick—or even sign—as he is a 4.0 student and heavily committed to attending college at Washington
Scouting video here
Thanks to the wonderful camera view (and the netting), which appears to be miles from the plate, its tough to really see a lot here. His delivery does have some moving parts, but the Phillies should be able to clean it up. He gets nice drive to home plate and has obvious projection in his frame. Its not that difficult to envision him consistently sitting in the low 90’s 3 years from now.
Take: The Phillies were again aggressive, taking a risky sign and getting the deal done. May is very similar to Julian Sampson, though his delivery isn’t quite as clean, he hides the ball a little better than Sampson did. Because he comes from the Pacific Northwest, a non-baseball hotbed, he might be a little slower to develop, but he’s got all the tools to be a middle of the rotation starter. He was a tad wild in his small sample size debut, but did register 11 strikeouts in 12 innings. My guess is that he starts in Williamsport, but like Sampson, I think he’s got an outside shot at starting in Lakewood. I love the pick, as I generally love projectable arms, and May is certainly that.
R3 (110) — Jon Pettibone, RHP — Esperanza HS (California)
[BA = Unranked, PGC = 51st in CA]
Info: This pick was a real head scratcher at the time. Pettibone was taken with the compensation pick for not signing Brandon Workman, meaning this was a one off pick and there would be no compensation if he wasn’t signed. BA didn’t even rank Pettibone among their 100+ California prospects, though PGC did give him some love. Pettibone’s $500K bonus represents another over slot signing, 3 out of 4 picks in a row that went over slot, with $500K being a beginning of the 3rd round recommendation. I didn’t include his stat line, he only pitched 1 inning. Pre-draft report on Pettibone…
Pettibone is a long, lanky righthander who projects well to add strength. He pitched in the upper-80s most of the spring and occasionally touched 90 mph. He has more of a finesse pitcher’s mentality right now, and tries to work the ball around the zone and change speeds rather than overpower high school hitters. He throws both a 2-seam and 4-seam fastball, curveball, split-finger and straight changeup, although none of them is true out-pitch at the moment. Pettibone can throw strikes. He walked only 17 hitters in 50 innings this spring, but also struck out 45, a low number for a high school pitcher with his stuff. He 5-3, 2.92 overall.
Scouting video here
Long and lanky is a great way to describe Pettibone. This video is a year old, from spring 2007, so he may have altered things a bit, but I’m not all that encouraged by this short clip. He “slings” the ball, if that makes any sense, and his tempo is very slow. In a way, he reminds me of a righthanded Andrew Miller, the Marlins lefty. Miller has a similar slinging motion but with better tempo and better velocity. Miller went to college and became a first round pick, we can only hope Pettibone develops similarly (minus the college and re-draft, obviously) and becomes an elite arm.
Take: This pick was very strange at the time. I had very little knowledge of Pettibone, he seemed kind of off the radar. That told me one thing; the Phillies area guy liked him a lot, and they knew exactly what it would take to sign him. I believed that because this was a compensation pick, a one off, and they had to get it right. Negotiations seemed to lag, which was worrying, and that worry intensified with word that he’d hired Scott Boras as his agent after the draft. Suddenly the target was moving again. The Phillies apparently rolled out the red carpet for him on their west coast trip this summer, they had Cole Hamels talk to him for a little while, and the rest is history. I think this was a pretty big reach where they got him. He’s obviously very projectable, but I think his delivery is going to need some work and he might take a while to develop. You can never have enough power arms. Right now, he’s not a power arm, but if he can be refined a bit, he could turn into a sinker/slider type pitcher capable of generating groundballs. We could use one of those. For now, I’m going to say “not a fan”, considering where this pick was made. The Astros actually took the guy I’d have loved here, Ross Seaton, one pick ahead of Pettibone, and they paid him $200K more. We’ll see how it turns out.
R3 (102) — Vance Worley, RHP — Long Beach State
[BA = 24th in CA, 121 overall, PGC = 25th in CA, 116 overall]
large version here.
Info: The Phillies really love Vance Worley. They drafted him out of high school in the 20th round back in 2005 but couldn’t keep him away from Long Beach State. He had a fairly pedestrian college career, never really taking the next step at a major baseball program, but the Phillies happily drafted him again, this time in the third round, and they signed him for slot money. Pre-draft goodness…
Worley’s four-seam fastball sits in the 91-92 mph range, peaking at 93-94. He has struggled at times with his 87-88 mph two-seamer, which gets hammered when left up in the zone. Both fastballs show armside movement, and he will cut the four-seamer at times. Worley mixes in a changeup and curveball. Both need development, and he will drop his arm slot and slow down his arm when delivering the change. Command is the primary concern with Worley, not in terms of walks but in quality of pitches and efficiency, as he frequently finds himself in deep counts. With refinement of his secondary offerings, he could develop into a mid-rotation starter in pro ball, but his power arm makes a conversion to the bullpen a solid option.
Worley has a thick lower half in his strong, powerful frame and consciously changed his arm angle as a freshman as he got too big physically to be effective early on in his college career. He then was plagued by an elbow flexor problem as a sophomore and sat out last summer while rehabbing the injury. He had no such issues this season and showed scouts more of what they expected all along—though his results this season don’t necessarily reflect it. Worley has good arm strength with a fastball that is a steady 89-92 mph, and touched 94. He’s been up to 95 in the past, but often at the expense of elevating his fastball up in the zone and getting little movement on the pitch. He showed a greater ability to throw his fastball, 72-77 mph curve and 79-81 mph changeup for strikes and pitch ahead in counts, and walked only 11 (barely more than one per nine innings) this season. His curveball has good rotation and bite, but he has been prone to hang it. The key for Worley, besides staying healthy, was re-establishing his breaking ball, which was slow to respond from his elbow injury
Worley has fairly smooth delivery and he repeats it reasonably well. He has a fairly nice tempo and pace to his delivery, at least to my eyes. The one thing I’m slightly worried about is he drops his pitching arm very low after he breaks his hands. That requires more energy, obviously, because the arm is lower and needs to come back up. I don’t know if keeping the arm a bit higher would cause him to lose a bit of his deception, but it might be something to monitor. Or maybe I’m off base there. I don’t know. Anyway..
Take: I really don’t know what to make of this pick. I wasn’t a big fan of the pick at the time. Worley doesn’t have overpowering stuff, his fastball velo is solid, but he didn’t seem to really have that one thing that makes you say “well, ok, that’s not so great, but man look at how he does THIS”, so I was left feeling kind of down, especially because he was taken ahead of Pettibone, when I felt those picks maybe should have been reversed, for potential compensation reasons. Worley proceeded to pitch very well at Lakewood, posting an impressive 2.66 ERA in 61 innings to go along with a sterling peripherals, striking out 53 and walking only 7. He did give up 4 HR and batters hit .257 off of him. One thing that does stand out is he’s young for a college junior, pitching his 2008 at age 20 and not turning 21 till after the season ended. His debut certainly makes me feel a little bit better about his prospects, but for some reason, I just can’t get excited about the pick. To me, he’s Andrew Carpenter with a few ticks more on his fastball. I can see him easily carving up Clearwater and then hitting similar speed bumps at Reading. If I were in charge, I think I may move him to the bullpen, have him focus only on his slider and changeup, and see if we maybe don’t have a closer in the making. His success will ultimately hinge on how well he can command his pitches. I think the Phillies could have done a bit better here, and with the Pettibone picks, but I won’t get too upset, especially because I like the May and Shreve picks so much.
R2 (71) — Jason Knapp, RHP — North Hunterdon HS (New Jersey)
[BA = 2nd in NJ, PGC = 2nd in NJ, 119 overall]
large version here.
Info: Knapp was a fast riser this spring, showing big time arm strength and throwing a gem right after the Phillies took him. There were murmurs that the Phillies might take him in the compensation round, which would have been a big overdraft, and it appears they may have still overdrafted him where they grabbed him, but they obviously really like the raw arm strength and think they can polish him up. The buzz on him prior to the draft…
There is no scouting consensus on righthander Jason Knapp. Some scouts believe he’s the top prospect in the Garden State, destined to throw 100 mph in the big leagues, while other scouts see nothing more than arm strength—and one even called him “the most overrated guy in New Jersey.” Late in the spring, Knapp was pitching at 94-96 mph in short relief outings, and he could add velocity thanks to his loose arm and projectable 6-foot-5 frame, which started to shed some baby fat this spring. But the rest of Knapp’s stuff needs work, as so does his delivery. He tries to throw a three-quarters curveball from a lower arm slot that might be better suited for a slider, but the pitch shows decent depth from time to time. His changeup is also a work in progress but has good arm speed and fade. Knapp has fundamental flaws in his delivery, yet for all that, he could go in the top three rounds—or even rocket into the first round—if a club falls in love with his upside. Like Quinton Miller, he’s committed to North Carolina but is considered an easier sign.
Knapp has ridden the prospect roller coaster for the last two years and appears poised to potentially hit a high point again this spring. He emerged before his junior year as a big-framed, mature righthander who was throwing up to 93 mph with a live, quick, loose arm. Knapp gained a lot of weight as a junior, lost his feel for pitching and went a so-so 4-3, 1.89 with just 62 strikeouts in 53 innings, but has rededicated himself and looked very good at the World Wood Bat Association fall championship in Jupiter, Fla., in late October. He again was throwing 93 mph but with less effort and more feel, and his curveball and changeup looked like promising pitches. Improved command will be the key to his success going forward. Knapp’s three-pitch strikeout of top prospect Tim Beckham in Jupiter, with hundreds of scouts watching, was a loud statement: 81 changeup down, 93 fastball inside corner, 92 fastball two inches off the outside corner—all called strikes
Knapp still rides a bit of the roller coaster, as he didn’t bring his A-list stuff to every outing this spring, but he proved himself to scouts and could be the top draftee in the state after signability issues are factored in. Knapp touched 96 mph this spring and worked consistently in the 90-93 mph area. His arm works very smoothly and the velocity comes with little effort and is maintained from the stretch. Knapp needs more consistency with his breaking ball, which he tends to get under at times
— PG Crosschecker, May 2008
I kind of touched on Knapp’s delivery a few weeks ago, but here it is for all to see. This is an old video, he may have altered things, but there are a few basic problems here. First and foremost, he lands on a stiff front leg. Thats a big no no, and could lead to arm trouble. He’s also throwing across his body a bit here, again that taxes the arm, and it also can hinder command. He throws from a low 3/4 arm slot, and its almost impossible to throw an effective curveball from that angle, he’d be better suited to throwing a slider.
Take: With the rumors leading up to the draft, I was worried the Phillies would really overdraft him at 34, and the thought of Hewitt at 24 and Knapp at 34 was basically my worst pre-draft nightmare. Only one part of the prophecy was realized, thankfully. I wasn’t crazy about Knapp at 71 even, but its a better spot to take the risk. He clearly has massive arm strength to go along with a very big, durable pitcher’s frame. Cleaning up his delivery is #1 on the to do list, but if the Phillies can do that, they could obviously have a big time pitcher on their hands. According to this article, Knapp was shut down with elbow tenderness. Guess they better fast track those mechanical adjustments…
R2 (51) — Anthony Gose, OF/LHP — Bellflower HS (California)
[BA = 12th in CA, 53rd overall, PGC = 19th in CA, 79th overall]
large version here.
Info: Gose was a really intriguing guy prior to the draft, and I’d even included him in one of my first mock drafts, sending him to Boston at the end of the first round. He had one of the strongest arms in the entire draft, but was a two way player and emphasized his love for the field, saying “if I didn’t have to do it again, I wouldn’t miss it” in this article. Hmmm
Gose has perhaps the strongest left arm of any Southern California high school pitching prospect since Bill Bordley, a first-round pick in the mid 1970s. However, his small stature and a recent bout of rotator cuff tendinitis have his draft status in doubt. Gose’s blistering fastball ranges from 92-96 mph, peaking at 97. Both his frame and four-seam fastball draw legitimate comparisons to both Scott Kazmir and Billy Wagner. In professional baseball, Gose will need to improve and sharpen both his 77 mph curve and 75 mph changeup. He’ll also need to clean up his mechanics and learn to slow down his frantic pace. When he’s healthy or when he’s not pitching, Gose plays center field, with plus-plus speed and arm being his best tools. He’s aggressive on the bases with a knack for stealing bags, taking the extra base, and flying into bases with a head-first slide. However, Gose has never consistently shown enough hitting ability to convince scouts he can hit professional pitching. Severe doubts about his bat make it most likely that Gose will be drafted and signed as a pitcher.
Gose ranks right near the top of the 2008 class in raw tools. The 6-foot, 170-pound lefthander has a slender, live greyhound build and 6.5 speed in the 60—speed that he uses very aggressively on the bases. He’s a hard worker who loves to play. His “wow” tool is his arm strength, and Gose put an exclamation point on that by throwing five dominating innings at the World Wood Bat Association fall championship in Jupiter, Fla., in late October, sitting regularly at 94-95 mph. That single performance likely shifted the scouting community from thinking of Gose as primarily an outfielder to a lefthanded pitcher. The major question mark about Gose as an outfielder is his bat. He has a short, compact swing with a line-drive approach, but shows limited instincts for hitting and his bat speed, while good, isn’t nearly at the prospect level that the rest of his tools are
Gose caused quite a stir early in the season on the mound, throwing up to 97 mph and sitting easily at 95 mph, but didn’t throw again after March 10 because of tendonitis in his shoulder. He made it very clear, though, that he wants to play outfield—and not pitch—at the next level. While Gose hit well as a DH this spring (.439, 26 BB, 24 SB), scouts clearly feel his future is on the mound.
So yeah, he has a lightning fast arm. His velo in this clip was only 88-90, so imagine that fastball, with that movement away from a RH batter, with 5-8 mph more on it. His curveball is real soft and loopy, and if he’d remain a pitcher, he’d probably be better scrapping the curveball and throwing a hard slider. But that’s not likely it seems with him playing the outfield.
Take: When the Phillies selected Gose, my immediate reaction was “wow, awesome!”, because I thought he was being taken as a lefthanded pitcher. As you can see from the video, and from the scouting reports, he has a HUGE arm in a small frame. Not many lefties can consistently hit 94-96 on the gun. But of course, we later found out he was officially announced as an outfielder, and he mentioned again and again he wanted to play outfield, not pitch. The Phillies signed him at slot value, and I have to think there was some sort of promise in there that he’d be allowed to play the field instead of pitching, at least initially. Realizing he was going to play the field and not pitch, I tempered my enthusiasm. His pro debut didn’t go well, and he was shut down with a back injury after playing only 11 games. The raw tools are obviously outstanding, especially on the mound, but I’m wondering at this point what the realistic plan is, and how severe the back injury is. Ultimately, this could work out. I mean, if he was suffering from tendinitis already, maybe its best to let him rest his arm. If you give him 2 years and he still can’t hit, you can always move him back to the mound, and as long as he’s actually playing the field and throwing, he should retain most of his killer arm strength. Much like many of the tool sheds we drafted, patience will be important here.
R1 (34) — Zach Collier, OF — Chino Hills HS (California)
[BA = 7th in CA, 22nd overall, PGC = 8th in CA, 19th overall]
large version here.
Info: Collier was a big time helium guy this spring, seemingly rising up draft boards every step of the way. Funny enough, had the Phillies taken him at 24 I’d have been fine with it, so getting him at 34, especially when he was ranked much higher by both BA and PGC, you have to feel good about that. Collier, as you may have read, had a scary incident 2 years ago, collapsing on the field and requiring heart surgery. He’s healthy, the issue seems to have been corrected, and the sky appears to be the limit.
Rave reviews from parents and youth coaches began to filter down to scouts, and Collier helped his cause with strong showings in two showcase events held at the MLB Urban Youth Academy in Compton. He continued gaining ground this spring, and then moved into first-round consideration when he took a Hicks 93 mph fastball deep during a tournament game in Fullerton. To make sure the 40-plus scouts in attendance were paying attention, Collier ripped two more hits. Lefthanded all the way, Collier has an athletic and projectable 6-foot-2, 195-pound outfielder’s frame. His above-average speed makes him a threat as a baserunner and permits him to patrol center field for now. As he slows down and matures physically, he’ll play an outfield corner, and his average arm makes right field a possibility. Collier had a surgical procedure to improve blood flow to his heart, performed in May 2006, which may be a concern for some clubs, but he’s been medically cleared for two years and has had no problems. Collier’s hitting ability and solid all-around game had him moving up boards, possibly in the middle of the first round
A 6-foot-2, 185-pound lefthanded-hitting outfielder, Collier came on quickly this spring—perhaps faster than any high school player in California. His best tool is his bat. He has a short, sweet, quick, line-drive stroke and squares the ball well. He should develop legit power in the future, but Collier projects out as average to above-average in all tool categories. He is a fringy-plus runner who has the arm and speed to make you believe he could play all three outfield spots. Scouts will be tempted to compare him to Detroit Tigers center fielder Curtis Granderson for his overall package. Collier is a very young senior for draft purposes and won’t turn 18 years old until September. Only a fair student, he had not signed with a Division I college as of the early spring
Collier was the fastest riser in the California prep ranks all spring and was talked about as a potential first-rounder by the end of April. His bomb off Long Beach Wilson righthander Aaron Hicks (No. 3 above), one of four hits he had off Hicks that day with droves of scouts in attendance, sent his stock skyrocketing. A good comparison for Collier might be a young Garret Anderson, another SoCal high school outfielder who blossomed late in his senior year in 1990 and was selected in the fourth round on his way to a long career with the Los Angeles Angels
– PG Crosschecker, May 2008
Smooth reactions and a very quiet swing, both very positive. Alex Eisenberg at The Hardball Times gave Collier’s swing mechanics an A-, you can read his breakdown here.
Take: As I mentioned above, you gotta like the value here getting Collier at 34. He’s a 4-5 tool player, and he showed those skills in his GCL debut, albeit in a small sample size. He drew 17 walks, he was 5/5 in stolen bases, and he added 9 doubles in 129 AB’s. The Garret Anderson comp certainly places lofty expectations on him, but if he ends up that type of player, it will be huge for the Phillies. It seems likely he’d get a chance to move to Lakewood to start 2009, on what should be a talented squad.
R1 (24) — Anthony Hewitt, 3B — Salisbury School (Connecticut)
[BA = 1st in CT/RI, 41st overall, PGC = 1st in CT, 24th overall]
large version here.
Info: Ah, the one we’ve all been waiting for, my 10,000 word rant on Anthony Hewitt. I’m going to make you wait for the rant though. When writing this, I did chuckle, as I remembered I labeled Jim Callis’ mock draft on May 21, where he had us taking Hewitt, as “impending doom“. Well…
Hewitt is the epitome of high-risk, high-reward. The risk starts with his signability. There’s also a huge risk that he simply won’t hit in professional ball: his raw bat was overmatched against quality pitching on the showcase circuit last summer, and though he dominated vastly inferior prep competition this spring, he still struggles to recognize breaking balls and can get locked up at times by ordinary fastballs. But then he’ll crush a ball 450 feet and give scouts a glimpse of his prodigious upside. Several scouts said he was second to Tim Beckham as the best athlete at the East Coast showcase last summer, and he has three legitimate above-average tools in his raw power, speed and arm strength. His muscular 6-foot-1, 190-pound frame evokes Ron Gant, and his work ethic and charisma stand out. Hewitt plays shortstop for Salisbury, but his poor footwork, stiff actions and lack of instincts will dictate a shift to third base or more likely the outfield, where he has enough speed and arm strength for center or right. Hewitt has generated mountains of buzz in the Northeast and could sneak into the supplemental round or even the back of the first round if a club falls in love with his potential enough to overlook his crudeness.
Many scouts believe that Hewitt is not only the top player in the Northeast this year, but his national ranking for the draft is significantly undervalued. He just hasn’t been seen extensively enough for scouts to be firm on an opinion, though indications are he was impressive on an early-season trip to Florida this spring. The 6-foot-1, 190-pound Hewitt has shown two plus tools—6.62-second speed in the 60 and excellent power potential. He’s a three-sport athlete whose family lives in Brooklyn, N.Y., while he attends a private school in Connecticut. Hewitt’s teammate at the Salisbury School, lefthander Chris Dwyer, is a 90-mph southpaw who will also get extensive scouting attention, something that should benefit both of them
Hewitt may not have been seen extensively by scouts prior to this season, but he got huge exposure this spring. In the process, he elevated himself up draft boards by leaps and bounds to a point where most scouts became convinced a month out from the draft that he was a legit first-round talent. Between his outstanding speed, arm strength and massive raw power, he flashed some of the best raw tools in the entire 2008 high school ranks. Not all scouts are convinced, however, that Hewitt is the real deal. He remains very raw in his approach to the game and did much of his damage at the plate against inferior private-school pitching, often facing pitchers who couldn’t crack 75 mph. He hit fastballs a long way, both in games and BP, but had a long swing and proved vulnerable, on occasion, to even average high school breaking balls. The team that signs him will need to be extremely patient with him initially as there is little doubt he will struggle at the lower levels of pro ball—or as a freshman in college in the increasing unlikelihood he will fulfill his scholarship obligation to Vanderbilt. Hewitt is equally raw in the field, showing little aptitude, or the hands and actions, to play shortstop.. But scouts have long accepted that he’ll end up at third base or in the outfield at the next level. His raw speed and arm strength would be most suited in the outfield
– PG Crosschecker, May 2008
I’m again going to defer to Alex Eisenberg at THT for swing analysis. Its not pretty.
Take: Well, the time is here. Time for me to completely rail against this pick. But I’m not going to. Do I like the pick? No. Did I like the pick at the time? No. But here’s the thing. I went back and looked at the players taken 25th-33rd. Here they are;
Christian Friedrich, LHP
Daniel Schlereth, LHP
Carlos Guitierrez, RHP
Gerrit Cole, RHP
Lonnie Chisenhall, SS
Casey Kelly, SS/RHP
Shooter Hunt, RHP
Jake Odorizzi, RHP
Brad Holt, RHP
Are any of those guys slam dunks? I liked Casey Kelly, but the Red Sox ended up paying him $3M to keep him away from Tennessee…that was the slot recommendation for the 3rd overall pick. I was on the Shooter Hunt bandwagon when it looked like we had no chance at him, and he pitched very well in his pro debut, but he was really fading down the stretch, Odorizzi was an interesting arm, but he’d have maybe been a reach. Mike Montgomery, who went 36th overall, would have been a nice pick. But my point is, there was no slam dunk guy at 24. The Phillies could have taken Collier at 24 and then taken Montgomery, or maybe a player from the above group that might have fallen if a team behind the Phillies had taken Hewitt. But they took him. And we all have to live with it. There are notable major issues; he’s already 19 and has played against inferior talent. He has MAJOR contact issues, striking out 55 times in 117 AB’s, while drawing only 7 walks. But here’s the crazy thing, I was actually shocked he drew 7 walks and hit .197. I think I was so pissed at the pick at the time, that whenever he does something great, I’m going to be literally shocked and impressed. By setting the bar so low, if he ever makes the bigs I’ll be pumped. The silver lining, and its a sliver of a silver lining (see what I did there?) is that if he does somehow put it together, he could be, well, who knows. A-Rod lite? The odds of him doing that are very slim. But there’s a chance. I wouldn’t have taken him 24th. Or 34th, or 104th. But he’s our guy, so we might as well pull for him.
Well, there it is. I think, when I ponder this draft, I look at the Hewitt pick differently now. At the time, I was pissed. It was our first pick of the draft, and I just felt like we were in the toilet and it was only one pick. But then, I look at the next 10 picks; Collier, Gose, Knapp, Worley, Pettibone, May, Shreve, Hamilton, Julio Rodriguez, and Overbeck, and I see a lot of guys who could be stars, as well as a bunch of guys who should be at least serviceable major leaguers. I look at the fact that the Phillies had a ton of early picks, they drafted a bunch of high ceiling guys, and then they signed them. If we were going to be forced to judge this draft on Hewitt and 2 or 3 other promising guys, then yeah, that would be a risk way too big to take. But instead, I think we’ve got 14-15 legit picks (maybe even more) to follow next season and beyond. When you compare that with the 2007 draft (which I’ll do tomorrow), I think you see just how good this draft was. The Phillies seemed like they finally “got it” this year, and I think we’ll see the fruits of their labor in 2009, 2010, and 2011. We can only hope they realize how well they did and they make it a trend, not an aberration.
Tomorrow I’m going to break out some charts and numbers, really kind of just to tie everything together. These four capsules were a labor of love, they took me a ton of time to prepare in terms of getting all of the statistics, adding the videos and scouting reports, and then trying to say something meaningful. I hope it was worth the wait.