The Philadelphia Phillies will make the first overall pick in Thursday’s MLB Amateur Draft, but who might the club go for in the 2nd round?
Ever since the Phillies clinched the worst overall record for the 2015 season there has been a lot of talk about who the team would select with the first overall selection in tonight’s MLB Amateur Draft.
At the end of that 2015 season, the leading candidates included Florida’s LHP A.J. Puk, Oklahoma’s RHP Alec Hansen, and standout high school RHP Riley Pint. Most scouts were already conceding the top players available in 2016 would be starting pitchers.
It still looks as if the Phils will select a starting pitcher with their first pick in the draft, but several position players have joined the conversation based on a strong 2016 spring season.
This group includes, but is not limited to Kyle Lewis, Mickey Moniak, Delvin Perez, Blake Rutherford and Nick Senzel, all of whom have been spotlighted at one time or another in our ongoing TBOH MLB Draft coverage in recent days and weeks.
Several weeks ago, I called on the Phillies to select Barnegat’s favorite son, the electric-armed Jason Groome, with the number one overall pick. The sky is the limit for Groome, who routinely draws comparisons to Dodgers great Clayton Kershaw.
The Phillies brain trust, which consists of Scouting Director Johnny Almaraz, GM Matt Klentak, President Andy MacPhail, and a host of Senior Advisors are being as tight-lipped about the pick as you’d expect.
In what is either a misdirection orchestrated by that management or simply a well-timed slip of the tongue, the Phillies appear poised to select Puk when Rob Manfred steps up to the podium a little after 7PM next Thursday to announce the Phils pick.
Puk has come on strong in the second half of the season and has practically cemented himself as the number one overall pick. It’s hard to argue taking Puk after watching another former SEC pitcher, Aaron Nola, selected 7th overall in the 2014 draft, deftly pitching his way through the majors in this, his 2nd year of major league baseball.
With no far and away easy number one, there’s a very good chance the Phillies won’t have to pay the full slot amount of $9.01MM to the first pick. This could set them up nicely to take a high schooler who is seen as committed to going to college this fall, and paying that player over slot money to forego college and sign with the Phillies.
But with all of the warranted speculation on that top overall pick in the first round, it remains true that the second round has been used effectively by the Phillies in recent years to bolster their farm system.
In recent years the Phillies have taken speed center fielder Roman Quinn (2011), slugging corner outfielder Dylan Cozens (2012), catcher Andrew Knapp (2013), lefty pitcher Matt Imhof (2014), and toolsy 2nd baseman Scott Kingery (2015). Going back further, Jimmy Rollins was taken by the Phils in the second round back in 1996.
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All of those choices other than Imhof look to have a good chance of playing big league ball. Quinn and Cozens appear to have strong shots at a starting outfield role in the near future, while Knapp is in a two-man competition for the Phils’ catcher of the future. Kingery, an advanced hitter in college, is expected to move swiftly through the organization.
So who might the club select with the 42nd overall pick – their 2nd rounder in this 2016 MLB Amateur Draft process?
If they nab Puk with the first overall pick, you would think that the 2nd rounder is more likely to be a position player. It may be, but with Oklahoma’s Alec Hansen nose diving along with his command, the Phils could double down on two of the strongest college arms in the country.
Georgia high school outfielder Taylor Trammell is one example of a player who may be available at 42 because of signability issues. The Georgia high school community has become a hotbed of MLB prospects, and Trammel is another talent in that line.
A left-handed hitter and thrower, Trammell is an exceptional athlete who played both football and baseball up until his senior year. He’s fast, athletic and has good bat speed. His skill set is that of a toolsy outfielder, the type of player the previous regime liked to pick in the first round.
Other possibilities at 42 include Blake Rutherford, rumored to be a tough sign. If the Phillies can get a player such as Mickey Moniak at first overall and pay him well below slot, they may be able to lure Rutherford, assuming the latter drops that far. This was a scenario floated by John Manuel at Baseball America just two days ago in their MLB Draft Mock 5.0 for the Phillies selection.
If the Phillies take a bat at first overall, perhaps they go for an advanced arm such as Anthony Kay of UConn, Cal Quantrill of Stanford, Cody Sedlock of Illinois, or Daulton Jefferies of California.
If the club goes with a pitcher first overall, perhaps an advanced bat such as Trammell, outfielder Heath Quinn of Samford, outfielder Anfernee Grier of Auburn. Perhaps outfielder Buddy Reed of Florida or Vandy outfielder Bryan Reynolds drops to them.
The second round will take place tonight, with the full festivities beginning on both MLB Network and live-streamed at MLB.com beginning at 7pm EDT. Our editor Matt Veasey will be live-Tweeting the draft from his feed @MatthewVeasey, and we should have plenty of coverage at the @FS_TBOH feed on Twitter as well.
Whatever shakes out with that first overall pick, he should be a good, impact-level talent. If the Phillies can continue what appears to be a recent-years habit of hitting on their second rounder as well, it would really help the building program over the next few years.