There appears to be as much hope for Phillies fans as there was for those in steerage class on the Titanic. Just when it appears as if it can’t get any worse, well, the Phillies hit what the organization hopes is its true nadir.
During the second game of the ill-fated Brewers series last week, the Phillies appeared to have had the game in the bag. With two-outs in the eighth it appeared that Ken Giles struck out Carlos Gomez. The Phillies would hand the lead off to Jonathan Papelbon, who has been the rarity of rarities on this feckless team. Pap’s been perfect in save situations.
Anyway, a funny thing happened while Giles was walking off the mound after apparently striking out Gomez. Carlos Ruiz called time before the pitch to Gomez and Giles imploded. The Phillies lost and were swept by Milwaukee, which is the second worst team in baseball.
Is there any hope for the worst team in baseball? Yes.The Phillies, who have no where to go but up, possess Maikel Franco, who is for real. But there are other reasons for optimism.
There is a reward for finishing with the worst record in the game. The Phillies appear to be more than a lock to possess the first pick in the 2016 MLB Draft. It’s extremely early, but here are the favorites to be selected by the Phillies next season.
Pitchers are at the top of the prospect list eleven months before the draft. Florida southpaw A.J.Puk and Oklahoma righty Alec Hansen are a pair of 6-foot-7 flamethrowers. Each throw fastballs that sit in the mid-90s range. Kansas high schooler Riley Pint has the same kind of arm. Pint also throws a mind-bending mid-80s curveball.
Blake Rutherford, a center fielder from Simi Valley, California is a high schooler who is scoring raves.
Each of the aforementioned have "can’t miss" all over them. Sure, some highly touted picks flame out, but the Phillies, who could have the top pick in the next three drafts, will be in position to improve down the line.
Speaking of the draft, the Phillies have a pair of recent picks, who could help the big club sooner than later. Aaron Nola and J.P. Crawford will each take part in the Futures Game on July 12. It won’t be long before the LSU product, who owns pinpoint control, plays for the Phillies. Nola has been dominant in the minors.
According to ESPN, Crawford is the second best prospect in baseball. Much like Franco, Crawford has succeeded at every level and has the tools and the mindset to make an impact with the big club.
The Phillies' second pick in last month’s draft, Scott Kingery, may also move quickly up the ladder.
“That’s my prediction,” Phillies scouting director Johnny Almaraz said of Kingery. “He excites me. He has very good gap power. He has a lot of quick twitch. He’s the kind of kid that makes things happen and he’s a junior. He has experience. He is a very good second baseman. I can see him making a real impact when he comes up (to the Phillies).”
If just one of the young impressive arms in Reading pans out, that’s two-fifths of a controllable rotation. Zac Eflin and Ben Lively have pitched well. Tom Windle and Jesse Biddle have been up and down.
“We’re putting it together on the farm,” Almaraz said. “The kids pitching in Reading are looking good.”
Ownership partner John Middleton’s appearance at the Andy MacPhail press conference was encouraging. His comments when detailing the choice of MacPhail were strong.
“This isn’t a decision that we delegated,” Middleton said of the choice ownership made in hiring MacPhail. “We owned this decision. And that’s an important part of the accountability that we think we have to the fan base...we own this because we intend to win.”
Expect MacPhail to shake it up in October, which could only improve the Phillies' situation. It also helps that the organization will receive $2.5 billion from Comcast for broadcast rights next season.