Phillies: Greatest first round picks in team history
1: Chase Utley (15th overall 2000)
Originally drafted by the Dodgers out of high school, Chase Utley opted to play collegiately at UCLA and was drafted by the Phillies in June 2000. Methodically working his way through the Phillies farm system moving from third base to second base, Utley made his first appearance in the big show on April 4, 2003.
Utley made an early impression, recording his first hit with a bang by smashing a grand slam into the right-field bullpen at old Veteran’s Stadium in his second game, April 24 against the Rockies. Utley hit .239 with two home runs in 43 games with the Phillies and 18 home runs with a .323 average in Triple-A.
Platooning with Placido Polanco for the 2004 season, Utley became the starter in 2005 and went on a five-year run as the best offensive second baseman in the majors. He averaged 29 home runs and 101 RBI per year during that span, three times blasting over 30 home runs and four times knocking in over 100 runs.
Utley hit three home runs in the 2008 postseason, then went on a tear the following year in the 2009 World Series. His five home runs against the Yankees tied Reggie Jackson’s mark set in 1977 for most home runs in a single World Series.
Unfortunately, injuries took their toll on Utley, derailing what was likely a certain Hall of Fame career in the making. His production was still solid, but not typical Utley, as he hit only 67 home runs over the next five season and didn’t come close to another 100 RBI season.
After the last of six All-Star appearances in 2014, Utley was traded to the Dodgers on August 19, 2015. Clearly near the end of a great career, Utley had one more solid season in 2016, hitting .252 with 26 doubles and 14 home runs. Two of those came in his return to Philadelphia, including a grand slam to the delight of the sold-out crowd at Citizen’s Bank Park.
Utley retired following the 2018 season with 1,885 hits, 1,103 runs, 411 doubles, 259 home runs and 1,025 RBI. He ranks fifth in Phillies history in runs and doubles and sixth in home runs.
As the late, great Harry Kalas said, “Chase Utley, you are the man!!” Those words hold true again as the most successful first-round draft pick in franchise history.