Phillies Draft: Take the Bat

Mercer University outfielder Kyle Mercer is being considered by the Phillies for the top overall pick in the 2016 MLB Amateur Draft. (Photo Credit:
Mercer University outfielder Kyle Mercer is being considered by the Phillies for the top overall pick in the 2016 MLB Amateur Draft. (Photo Credit: /

The Philadelphia Phillies hold the top overall pick in Thursday’s MLB Amateur Draft, and our coverage continues here at TBOH.

As we approach the 2016 Amateur Draft, our Philadelphia Phillies will control the podium before any of the other 29 teams.  Admittedly, I am pretty nervous about where they may go.

Looking at this week’s upcoming selection process in comparison to some of the more recent drafts, it pales in front end talent.  The Phillies are not in line for a can’t miss prospect such as Stephen Strasburg or Bryce Harper, nor is there a Dansby Swanson in sight, my friends.

The talk until about a week ago was Jason Groome vs. A.J. Puk.  Now, Groome has been left in the dust and the focus has been primarily on Puk.  Most analysts, including ESPN’s Keith Law, have the Phillies using 1:1 on the lefty from Florida.

While Puk is intriguing and would allow them to overspend down the line on players who may not sign otherwise, he just does not scream #1 overall draft pick to me.

I have read a ton saying that Puk has the stuff to be a front line guy. But if the stars do not align, he could be a late inning reliever.

His profile shows he can touch 97-99 with his fastball.  It is intriguing, but in the back of my mind, I keep hearing “Bullpen, bullpen, bullpen” and it terrifies me.

The Phillies have a ton of depth at many different positions, pitching being one of the many.  As a result, I would rather take the chance on a bat.

My guy was not on any radars before this past summer.  He is from a small school and his draft stock has suffered as a result. Kyle Lewis is his name, and he can flat-out hit.

Scouts did not think so when he was coming out of high school.  Even his current coach at Mercer, Craig Gibson, didn’t fully believe in Lewis when he first arrived on campus.  When the 6’4″ Lewis was offered the lowest scholarship offer available, he took it.  He has not looked back since.

So why does an undersized infielder turned outfielder deserve to be 1:1?  I do not see Groome or Puk as a true top pick, it’s just that simple for me.  Therefore, I want the bat.  And there is really no comparison to Lewis in this draft.

But wait…how can Lewis have this great of a reputation when he plays at Mercer?  The competition there is not great, Mike.

Yeah, I know.  I get it.  Let me come at you from two different angles here in explaining my thought process.

First, the numbers Lewis is putting up this year are plain ridiculous.  I do not care if he plays in the Southwest Conference of the Tazmanian Islands.  In 61 games, he has homered 20 times and is slashing .395/.535/.731 as a junior.

More from That Balls Outta Here

Ladies and gentlemen, that makes for an OPS of 1.266, and that is insane.  He has walked 66 times and struck out 48 times.

Fine.  Not impressed?  How about what the kid did in the Cape Cod League last summer.  For those unfamiliar, the Cape is where the top college players in the country go each summer to play in front of as many scouts as can fit in their tiny stadiums.

Lewis put on a show.  In 39 games, the outfielder demonstrated that he was one of the best hitters on the entire Cape, hitting for a .300/.344/.500 slash line with seven home runs and 24 RBI.

Two more things to note about his 2015 summer.  He produced those numbers against some of the best college pitching talent in the country.  His performance defeats the previous argument of not playing against top-tier talent.

More importantly, he produced those numbers while using a wooden bat.  The translation from college to pro often becomes difficult early in the process because of the use of a wooden bat.  Lewis had no issues making the change.

Related Story: Phillies Draft Planning

The Phillies brass has been public in their concern over the first pick.  It is not an easy pick to make as we head closer to draft day.  There is no clear frontrunner at the moment.  Some feel the Phillies will prefer pitching, and to save money under slot for the second pick.

However, if they can get Lewis and slot him into an already deep outfield, his offensive prowess could help the Phillies very quickly.

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