The most significant date of the Phillies season is Monday. It’s the date of the MLB draft and the Phillies will pick tenth. The only way the Phillies will make a bigger splash in 2015 is if they actually score a motherlode of talent for Cole Hamels in July or sign massive 16-year old Dominican slugger Jhailyn Ortiz July 2 when the window for the next batch of international talent opens.
For now, it’s about the draft. There is no apparent difference maker, along the lines of a Bryce Harper or David Price but there are a number of very solid prospects in the top ten.
Who will the Phillies pick? Last autumn, the club’s new scouting director Johnny Almaraz, who was hired in September, provided some clues. He hinted that complete players will be favored over projects.So the recent years of reaching for athletes with high ceilings and low floors appears to be history.
The Phillies went with the safe pick last year by selecting LSU’s Aaron Nola with the seventh pick. Nola was projected to be a mid-rotation starter when he was added. However, some scouts believe that view might have been conservative.
“Nola isn’t a flamethrower but he can pitch,” a NL scout said. “He can hit his spots and he’s doing just that (at Double-A Reading). If he can do that at the big league level, then you got something.”
If the Phillies want to load up for a future arms race, there is Vanderbilt hurlers Walker Buehler and Carson Fulmer, who figure to go top 12. Both are around Nola size, about 6-foot-1. The former is a Nola type and the latter has such a violent delivery that he looks like a closer. The Phillies have scouted both.
The Phillies can certainly use some bats. Most pundits have the Phillies selecting a position player. Who they draft depends on the nine teams in front of them. Up until April, a number of experts thought the Phillies would select Nola’s LSU teammate Alex Bregman, who appears to be Chase Utley lite. However, his stock has risen dramatically. Baseball America has him selected by the Houston Astros with the second pick.
Don’t be surprised if the Phillies select Daz Cameron, an 18-year-old high school outfielder out of Georgia, if he falls to ten. Cameron, a slick fielding outfielder, has been a tremendous prep school player and he has the bloodline. Former major leaguer Mike Cameron is his dad and his son has huge potential.
The Phillies scouted high school outfielder Kyle Tucker during spring training. However, it would be surprising if the Plant City product slips past the sixth slot.
The Metro pick is Georgia prep standout Tyler Stephenson, who has leaped from obscurity to the top catching prospect in the draft. Stephenson, who is 6-foot-4, is a Matt Wieters type. His ceiling is high and so is his floor. Stephenson is strong with tremendous bat speed and loft, which translates into enviable raw power. He’s also an excellent defender with a powerful arm and great agility for a catcher his size.
“It takes a while for prep catchers to develop,” a NL scout said. “But if the Phillies believe he’s their guy, then go for it. It’s not as if they need him to help the big club next year. Stephenson has tremendous potential but when you pick tenth, you really have to nail it, especially if you have a system like the Phillies, which can really use an infusion of talent. But it’s not just about the first round. The Phillies need to make the right choices beyond that (in subsequent rounds).”