The Philadelphia Phillies are likely scouting a high school shortstop from Puerto Rico as a possibility for the top pick in the 2016 MLB Amateur Draft.
After a long off-season, baseball returned last week as the Phils began Spring Training in sunny Clearwater. This weekend fans will get a glimpse of the future when top prospects like J.P. Crawford, Nick Williams, and Roman Quinn take the field for an exhibition game against the University of Tampa on Sunday.
While the game does not matter in terms of standings, it will afford fans an opportunity to see what could be in terms of a rebuild if these intriguing young players reach their full potential. These are just a few of the players that need to succeed in order to propel the Phillies back to greatness.
Another key part of that rebuilding process will come in making the best choice this coming June when the Phillies make their selection with the #1 overall pick in the 2016 MLB Amateur Draft. One name that is sure to be on the Phillies radar for that top pick is International Baseball Academy shortstop Delvin Perez.
Perez is 17 years old and stands 6’3 and 165 lbs. ESPN’s Keith Law expects that his frame will fill out as he matures. Law, an MLB and ESPN prospect expert, is high on Perez. Law notes that Perez is speedy, a good defender, and has power potential.
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Last month MLB.com did a profile on Perez where they quoted a scout who spoke highly of his elite defense and speed, and how his offensive development will determine whether he will become a perennial all-star in the big leagues.
That article compares him to 2015 AL Rookie of the Year Carlos Correa, who, like Perez, happens to be a shortstop out of Puerto Rico. If Perez is the Phils top pick, and is able to achieve what Correa has, then Phils fans can expect to see a return to the playoffs sooner rather than later.
That type of special 5-tool prospect reaching his full potential can turn a team around quickly, just as Correa did for a 2015 Astros team that unexpectedly won the AL West.
Fans might ask why the Phils would select a shortstop when top prospect J.P. Crawford is so close to being ready for the show. But new GM Matt Klentak has already stated that the Phillies are going to select the best player available, regardless of position.
If Perez continues to show improvement offensively then the Phillies have to take him at 1:1. A surplus of elite shortstop prospects, the most difficult position on the field, is a good problem to have. Someone could always switch positions, or they can be used as assets in other ways.
If Crawford reaches his full potential, and becomes an all-star shortstop in the next couple of years, then the Phillies could use Perez as the headliner of a trade to obtain another position player or pitcher they might need to get back to the playoffs.
Another scenario could be moving one of them to second base, which would solidify a strong middle infield both offensively and defensively for years to come. I don’t think any Phillies fan would complain if one of them turned into the next Jimmy Rollins and the other the next Chase Utley for the Fightins.
The Phillies rebuilding program should really begin to take shape over the course of the summer of 2016. It is an exciting time for those of us closely watching as this next generation moves forward in the organization. In the coming weeks, I’ll continue presenting possibilities for that exciting and key top overall draft pick.