The MLB Draft has wrapped, and suddenly there are 40 new Phillies’ names to learn.
For the Phillies, the 2014 draft took on unusual significance as the major league team has continued to struggle and fans are starting to look toward the future.
The draft has not been a successful place to find talent of late for the Phillies. The last first round pick to contribute significantly was Cole Hamels, taken in 2002. But the Phillies are picking much higher this year (seventh,) higher in fact than they have picked since taking Gavin Floyd fourth in 2001.
This draft heralded a change in organizational philosophy by the Phillies. In our preview we mentioned the Phillies' past inclination of raw talent over Major League readiness. That trend was reversed in the 2014 draft.
Of the Phillies’ 40 selections, 11 were high school players. In their first 28 selections, only one high school player was taken. In past drafts, the Phillies' previous eight first round picks had been spent on high school talents.
Positions were split more evenly; the Phillies took 22 pitchers and 18 position players. Six of those position players were outfielders.
The Phillies' first round selection at No. 7 overall was LSU right-handed pitcher Aaron Nola. MLB.com predicts Nola will be the first starter from this draft class to reach the major leagues. Nola throws his fastball around 91-93 mph and complements it best with his changeup. He had a streak of 54 innings without allowing an earned run for the Tigers.
In the second round the team took 6-foot-5 Cal Poly left-hander Matt Imhof. Imhof struck out 124 in 99 1/3 innings last season. He is another pitcher who will have the opportunity to move through the Phillies' organization quickly.
In the third they drafted Pepperdine center fielder Aaron Brown. Brown is a two-way player, having also contributed greatly to Pepperdine’s pitching staff. Indications are that the Phillies project him as an outfielder. Brown was drafted in the 30th round by the Cleveland Indians a year ago.
Fifth round selection Rhys Hoskins from Sacramento State could be the Phillies’ attempt to find the next Ryan Howard. Hoskins’ calling card is his power. He hit 12 home runs this season, while cutting his strikeouts and posting a career high in walks.
Taken in the eighth round, Sam McWilliams became the lone high school prospect selected by the Phillies in the first half of the draft. McWilliams is an imposing figure on the mound, standing at 6-foot-7. He has signed to play college ball at Tennessee Tech.
The Phillies took Temple product Matt Hockenberry in the ninth round. Hockenberry is a right-handed pitcher.
The Phillies' 32nd round choice, outfielder Tom Flacco, is the younger brother of the Baltimore Ravens' quarterback Joe Flacco.