Phillies Trying to Make Best of the Worst


There are only three games left in the Phillies disappointing 2015 season and they currently hold just a one game lead over the Cincinnati Reds for the worst record in baseball. If the Phils can hold on to that “lead”, as it were, it would secure for them the top overall pick in the 2016 MLB Amateur Draft.

Finishing with the worst record in baseball isn’t something ownership, the players, or the fans aspire to accomplish. But the one bright spot as a reward for such a dismal six month season might be the potential elite talent the Phillies can secure with that pick.

Finishing with the worst record would also give the Phillies the largest draft pool, affording them the financial flexibility to sign impact talent with their later picks as well. All of this should help fuel the creation of the next great Phillies core, one that can propel them back to the playoffs.

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Since the team with the #1 pick is allotted the most draft money, the Phillies might have the opportunity to sign their top pick under slot value, and then use their savings to go over-slot for a player in a later round.

This is a strategy that the Houston Astros, one of MLB’s rising teams, used effectively in the 2015 draft. This June, the Astros were able to sign #2 overall pick, shortstop Alex Bregman, for $1.52 million under slot. Houston then used the savings to sign outfielder Daz Cameron, the son of former MLB player Mike Cameron and the #37 overall pick, for $4 million, which was more than $2.3 million over-slot.

Prior to the 2015 season the Phillies were thought to have a bottom 10 farm system. But thanks to a haul of quality prospects acquired in the Cole Hamels trade to the Texas Rangers, and what appears to have been solid scouting for the last few drafts, the Phillies rebuild is looking quite promising.

Aug 7, 2014; Frisco, TX, USA; Frisco Rough Riders designated hitter Alfaro (8) bats during the game against the Springfield Cardinals at Dr Pepper Ballpark. Springfield beat Frisco 2-1. Alfaro was one of 6 Rangers players traded to the Phillies in exchange for pitchers Hamels and Diekman on July 30, 2015. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Shortstop JP Crawford, the Phillies 1st round pick (16th overall) in the 2013 draft, is currently ranked at #5 on’s top 100 prospect list. Three of the 5 prospects acquired from Texas in the Hamels trade have also made the midseason top prospects list.

Right handed pitcher Jake Thompson sits at #52, toolsy outfielder Nick Williams at #56, and power hitting catcher Jorge Alfaro is listed at #60. Outfielder Cornelius Randolph, the Phillies 2015 first round pick (#10 overall), is currently listed at #86. That’s an impressive six players currently ranked. What was once a weakness has now become a strength for the Phillies.

In addition to those who made it on to the Top 100 MLB prospects list, the Phillies have seen some impressive performances from their non-ranked prospects.

The 2013 selection in the 2nd round, catcher Andrew Knapp, had a breakout season in posting an outstanding .360/419/631 slash line at Double A Reading this year. First base prospect Rhys Hoskins showed his potential after being promoted to High A Clearwater, where he posted a line of .317/394/510.

Pitcher Jerad Eickhoff, also acquired in the Hamels trade, has put up a fantastic 3.07 ERA with 39 strikeouts in 44 innings pitched for the Phillies in his MLB debut. While he was not considered as one of the highly touted prospects from the trade, he has shown he can be a solid rotation piece, impressing in his short big league career.

In a victory this afternoon over the New York Mets, Eickhoff became the only MLB rookie pitcher this season to go four consecutive starts of at least 7 innings while yielding 2 or fewer earned runs. Heading into the 2016 season, he has most definitely pushed himself to the front of the young starting pitchers vying for first crack at a longterm role in the future starting rotation.

While finishing with the worst record in baseball is definitely a disappointment, the top draft pick and large amount of pool money could help the Phillies continue to build up quality depth in their farm system, and thus speed up the rebuilding process.

Former farm hands Aaron Nola and Maikel Franco have flashed All-Star potential during this rookie season for each player. We may see Crawford, Williams, and Knapp with the big league team at some point in 2016.

Hopefully the Phillies can continue their current trend of strong first round picks (Crawford in 2013, Nola in 2014, and Randolph in 2015), adding impact players who are close to MLB-ready,  and who can help to bring postseason baseball back to the Bank sooner rather than later.

Nailing down that top draft pick this weekend would go a long way to ensuring the Phillies get the best player possible next June. The team “Magic Number” for eliminating the Reds and clinching the worst record stands at just ‘2’, a combination of Phils losses and Reds wins to clinch the pick.

Next: Phils Sweep Mets, Blowing Top Pick?