In the 3rd round of the MLB 2004 Amateur Draft, the Phillies selected a lefthanded pitcher out of Northwestern University by the name of J.A. Happ. In the upcoming 2015 MLB Draft, it might be time to give yet another Happ a serious look.
The Phils have the 10th overall selection in the Draft, which will be held on Monday, June 8th. This marks the third consecutive season that the club will select among the top 20 choices.
In 2013, the club selected high school shortstop J.P. Crawford with the 16th overall pick. In 2014, it was righthanded pitcher Aaron Nola out of LSU with the 7th overall selection. Now those two are the top two prospects in the Phillies minor league system by every major evaluation resource.
Getting this draft choice right is vital to the organization’s continued rebuilding program. You only get to select among the top 10 picks in the draft process because your team performed pretty poorly in the previous season. While you can spend money to fill holes and improve your team, and the Phils will have plenty to spend in the coming years, a solid minor league system is a must for sustained excellence.
“He’s got a nice presence to him in the clubhouse and in the dugout” ~ UC coach Ty Neal
By most accounts, this year’s Amateur Draft is going to be one of the more interesting in recent years. That is a by-product of three developments: there is no clear-cut top choice, a number of previously considered high choices have been injured, and there is an overall lack of talent depth available this time around.
As we move closer and closer to the date, not much is becoming clear. It would appear that there are going to be questions right up until close to Draft day itself, and players might end up reaching handshake agreements with teams prior, thus slotting themselves into position in at least a couple of cases.
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Based on the way that most reputable draft resources feel that the top handful of players will go, and in evaluating what might be available to the Phillies at that #10 position, my choice for the selection would be University of Cincinnati oufielder Ian Happ.
Happ is a 6’0″, 205 pounder who will turn 21 years old in August. A switch-hitter, he is better from the left side, and projects to hit for both average and pop. He is almost certainly going to be a corner outfielder, so he is going to have to hit. That does not appear as if it will be an issue with this young man.
Happ is a Pittsburgh native, no relation to former Phils lefty J.A., and has enjoyed an award-winning collegiate career in Ohio. He was a Perfect Game Freshman All-American with the Bearcats in 2013, and Cape Cod League all-star in both 2013 and 2014.
He has spent his first three seasons on the Golden Spikes Award watch lists, and this year was a Baseball America and Perfect Game preseason 1st Team All-American. He is sure to add to his award case once this current season ends.
This year, Happ is rolling along with a .362/.491/.672 slash line. He has 13 homers, 39 rbi, and 11 stolen bases. Defensively, Happ has good speed and a strong arm that could play well on either corner in the pros. He did play 2nd base in 2013, but has not played it since then, and is going to be an outfielder at the next level.
He will be the first-ever player from the University of Cincinnati selected in the 1st round. UC coach Ty Neal had glowing words for him to Fox Sports: “He’s handling the success well and he’s leading these young guys, teaching them right and wrong along the way. He’s got a nice presence to him in the clubhouse and in the dugout….He’s holding guys accountable a little bit but also being a good teammate.”
A strong hitter. An outfielder. A character guy in the clubhouse. These are exactly the types of traits that the Phillies need to reap from this selection. If it were my pick, he’d certainly be near the top of my board at that #10 spot. As the Draft draws closer, and things get more clear, we’ll keep you informed right here at TBOH.