Are the Phillies Good at the MLB Draft?

On Monday night, Major League Baseball held their annual Amateur Player Draft.

For many teams, the MLB Draft is an exciting time, a chance to look at some of the best international, high school and college players the game has to offer.

Those excited teams are ones that really stink, by the way.

It’s been a long time since the Phillies stunk, which is why the MLB Draft has largely lacked any real excitement among Phillies fans in recent years. Hey, we’re not complaining. It’s far better to win five straight NL East championships, two National League pennants and a World Series title than it is to have a high pick in the draft. I’m pretty sure Houston, Baltimore, and Pittsburgh would be happy to exchange fortunes with the Phils.

Over the last few years, the Phils drafts have been a mixed bag. Last year’s first two picks, Larry Greene and Roman Quinn, have yet to advance to low A ball. After a slow start, 2010 first round pick Jesse Biddle is pitching well for the Clearwater Threshers, throwing seven shutout innings in his last start with 12 punch outs and just one walk, lowering his ERA to 2.51. Their first pick in 2009, outfielder Kelly Dugan, is having a decent season in Clearwater, hitting. 262/.347/.468 with 5 HRs and 16 RBIs in 126 at bats. The 2008 draft has actually turned out to be a bottom-heavy success, with top pick outfielder Anthony Hewitt continuing to struggle in Clearwater, while third round pick Vance Worley is a bona fide Major League starter, fellow third-rounder Jonathan Pettibone is making his way up the organizational ladder, and fourth-round pick Trevor May is the top prospect in the organization, although he has struggled of late for Reading.

If you look at every team in baseball, unless you’re the Tampa Bay Rays, you’re likely to find a similar amount of hits and misses in the draft. This look at the Phils’ draft history is an interesting reminder of how hard it is to predict Major League success for high school and college players.

This year, the one thing you’d like to see the Phillies do is look at position players who have shown an ability to have good at bats and hit for some amount of power. Traditionally, the Phillies have gone after guys with lots of potential, but who are also very raw.

The Phils are speculators. They play the prospect market with high risk. And with the Phillies constantly having low picks because of all the free agents they sign and their yearly finish in the standings, it probably makes a lot of sense.

But what the Phillies need, more than anything else, is a change in their offensive culture. They need players who appear to have an innate patience at the plate.

Now, I’m not saying the Phils ought to go all “Moneyball” on us, but there are too many undisciplined hitters in the organization. Players who get on base and work the count are something this team desperately needs in its minor leagues.

Of course, that’s all easier said than done. But regardless of whether it works out, it’s something Ruben Amaro and the scouting department should be prioritizing this year.

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For an interesting read on Jonathan Pettibone, check out this article by Bob Brookover of the Inquirer, about how Pettibone is learning to throw his fourth pitch, a two-seam fastball. That’s the pitch that turned Worley from an average minor league starter to a real #3 guy in a Major League rotation. Pettibone, by the way, has had an uneven season so far, at 4-5 with a 3.92 ERA and an uncharacteristically high WHIP of 1.47 for Reading. Pettibone has always been one of the best control guys in the organization, but if he’s working on adding the two-seam fastball, that may account for the increase in walks this year.

Also for Reading, 1B/OF Darin Ruf is threatening to force the Phillies hand if he keeps hitting like he has. He’s at .337/.410/.565 with 10 HRs and 41 RBIs in 193 ABs. Also for Reading, 2B Cesar Hernandez is also continuing to tear it up, hitting .322/.359/.450. But with only 13 BBs in 202 ABs, his patience at the plate still needs a little work. But it’s easy to envision a potential Galvis-Hernandez double-play combination in 2014 emerging as a real possibility.

After a fast start to his season, top prospect Trevor May has really struggled of late. On Monday, May got blitzed for six runs in just 3 2/3 innings and now has an ERA around five. In Clearwater, Brody Colvin is also struggling, with an ERA of 5.33 and a way-too-high WHIP of 1.76.

And finally, your Domonic Brown update. When we last checked in on Dom, he was still homerless. Well, I’m pleased to report that Dom has gotten off the goose-egg and now has two HRs on the year, hitting .264/.308/.389 with just 8 doubles. Pedestrian numbers to say the least.

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Now, onto our weekly check of the Phillies prospect Twitterizations…

Pettibone, who as I mentioned earlier is working on a two-seam fastball, is also apparently a big Tiger Woods fan…

I’m no Tiger Woods fan, but that chip-in on 16 on Sunday at the Memorial was absolutely sick.

Despite his recent run of trouble, Trevor May is pretty stoked about his alter-ego, @DJHeyBeef, getting the musical opportunity of a lifetime…

Nothin’ like spinnin’ the wax in Reading, PA on a hot summer night. Seriously though, that’s a pretty cool gig for an amateur mix-master.

May also gave us an interesting look at his personal hygiene situation, and I gotta tell you, it ain’t pretty…

Um, Trevor, whatcha been doing so far? The body can only withstand so many layers of cologne and deodorant, holmes.

Tyson Gillies, one of the young guns in the Reading Philies outfield, apparently is a fatty boombalatty (is that how you spell that?)…

I’m trying to stick to the South Beach Diet, without much success. Of course, I’m a 35-year-old radio producer/reporter and blogger. Tyson Gillies is a professional baseball player in his early 20s. So yeah, perhaps a few more celery sticks wouldn’t be out of line.

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