This is going to be a fairly short posting. The draft is a little over half way complete, and there are still 20 picks to come tomorrow. I was away from the computer for much of the afternoon, so I wasn’t able to update the list, but a big thanks to Ryan for helping to add the players. I posted a few scouting reports of some of the early picks, and when I do my full recap, I will try and scrape together information on every pick made. My draft writeup will probably be done over the weekend, as I don’t envision having time to do it this week, but we’ll see. I’m not going to dissect every pick here, but I’ll give you a few of my general thoughts below the cutoff…
* Just from browsing the comments, it seems most people aren’t happy with the draft. Which is essentially what happens every year here. You do a little reading, you see the names that the talking heads are buzzing about, and when the Phillies don’t take those guys, everything else is a failure. Its easy to get sucked into it. But there are a few things to remember. Two years ago, no one cared about Jarred Cosart on draft day. He’s now our 2nd best prospect. We’ve generally taken the same number of high school players this year through 30 rounds than we have taken in past years. We just didn’t take the big name prep guys everyone here wanted. But let’s wait and see which guys we end up taking fliers on tomorrow. You can almost guarantee we’ll take at least 7 or 8 high school guys in the last 20 picks.
* No one really knows what the budget looks like for this draft, but its tough to accuse the Phillies of being cheap in the draft. They don’t spend like the Red Sox in the draft, but really no one does, and its kind of like saying the Phillies are cheap at the big league level because they don’t have a $200M payroll like the Yankees. The Phillies took only one true college senior in the first 10 rounds, and it was in the 10th round with Mario Hollands. Bryan Morgado was redshirted as a freshman and hard arm surgery in 2007, so he only pitched three years in school. The Phillies took 9 true college seniors, but only 1 in 10 rounds, 3 of the 9 came in rounds 25-27.
* Everyone wanted middle infield prospects and catchers. The Phillies got a catcher with a really good arm and some raw power, but so so swing mechanics, but they got him in the third round. But the reality is, middle infielders are the toughest prospects in baseball to evaluate. For a prep player, you may start at SS, but trying to figure out if the player can remain there is a tough job for scouts. If you project a player to have only average power or speed, and that player can no longer remain at 2B/SS, suddenly he looks like a utility guy…is that someone you want to give him a high 6 figure bonus to? Maybe, but maybe not. The elite college middle infielders rarely ever make it to the back of the first round, and the guys who are there after the first round normally have at least one major flaw in their game. Teams generally place a high value on those guys, and if the Phillies thought they saw a legit middle infielder who could play every day and stay at 2B or SS, they’d have probably taken them.
* It may be kind of flying under the radar, but the Phillies appear to be doing something really smart. In the last few drafts, the Phillies have targeted guys (after the first few rounds) who were coming off really poor seasons/injuries during their season leading up to the draft. They did this with Colby Shreve, Stutes, Cisco, Rosenberg, Michael Taylor, and even going back, Ryan Howard. This is where the disconnect comes between the people who write for the big prospect sites and the guys who are out scouting areas of the country for years. When you’re writing for a broad audience, your job is to focus on the guys rising up boards, and often times a guy will drop much quicker with a slow season leading up to the draft. But for pro teams, when they have area scouts on guys for 3+ years, all that scout needs to see is a glimpse of something he saw before, and he’ll turn in a report that the elite talent is still there. Bryan Morgado is a great example of this now. He’s shown plenty of talent since his senior year in high school. He missed his freshman year with a major arm surgery. He struggled to come back, and his college numbers look poor. But the White Sox popped him in the 3rd round last year because they believed in the talent, they just couldn’t sign him. This season, he struggled again, but showed flashes, occasionally hitting the 94-97 range with his FB. Will he pull things together? Who knows. But in the 4th round, unless you’re willing to spend 7 figures on a prep guy, you’re not likely to find a lefty who has mid 90’s heat. Because he is a senior (but has a year of eligibility left), he’s probably going to sign for slot, and that’s a nice risk to take in the 4th round. There are a bunch of different ways to take gambles and risks, not all of them involve giving a high school guy a million bucks.
I haven’t really done a ton of research on our picks yet, so I can’t give you a definitive grade or anything. In fact, I can’t really give a grade on the draft until we know who is going to sign, and even then, its going to take years to figure out which guys are going to outperform our expectations and underperform our expectations.
My biggest ask is that people take some time and read about the guys taken, and then wait and see what happens leading up to the signing deadline. You only have to go back and look at the last few drafts to see that the best policy is to wait. Domonic Brown was a 20th round pick who seemed pretty unsignable, then signed for $200K, and is now our best prospect. In 2007, no one cared about Michael Taylor and his mediocre college stats at Stanford, and he ended up being a key piece in the deal that netted Halladay. In 2007 it looked like Jiwan James was headed to college, then at the last minute he signed, and this past winter scouts were all over him and talked about him as a potential 5 tool breakout guy. The Phillies plucked Mike Cisco in the 36th round in 2008, and Jarrett Cosart was a fairly unheralded selection at the time, only to turn into a big overslot guy at the deadline, and now our best pitching prospect.
As I’ve mentioned in previous draft writeups, and I’ll go over again in more detail later, if you get 5 or 6 guys out of your draft to the majors, you’ve had a pretty average draft. Anything more than that and you’re ahead of the game. Its tough to know which guys are going to make it. We all know that the Phillies don’t always take the best guy available when they maybe should. We all wish they’d just go nuts with the big time prep guys. But the Phillies don’t operate like that, and most other teams don’t either. But that doesn’t mean this was a poor draft, or that the Phillies wasted their picks. You can call me an apologist or whatever else, but if you’ve been around here long enough, you know that I’m the first guy to be critical of the front office when I think they’re making mistakes. At first glance, without a ton of in depth research, I really like what the Phillies did in their first 30 picks.
Update –> Also, a big thank you to everyone who came to the site in the last 2 days. If it was your first time here, I hope you come back. If you’re a regular, I appreciate your continued support. The last 2 days were two of the busiest days in the history of the site, with 21,000+ hits yesterday, and a staggering 34,000+ hits today, easily the busiest day in the history of the site. Its much appreciated.