Which Phillies prospects were the best late round draft picks?
Much can be said about the Phillies drafting ability in recent memory; from top to bottom, the Phils have generated a respectable farm system, utilizing their top draft picks well. But its not always the as-advertised prep and college stars that make the biggest impact on an MLB roster.
In light of there only being seven rounds in this year’s MLB draft, let’s look at some of the best late round picks in Phillies history.
Darren Daulton, Round 25, pick 628, 1980
Dutch was a near Phillies lifer, spending only his last season with another team. He scratched out a fifteen year career in the big leagues after being drafted out of Cowley College, a school that today has around 2,700 students.
Dalton made his debut at 21, but didn’t become the starting catcher until his age 27 season in 1989. His best years came during the infamous 1993 world series era, and shortly after 1993 his skills began to decline as a result of a laundry list of chronic injuries.
A Phillies Wall-of-Famer, Dutch was living proof that if you’ve got the right stuff, somebody will find you.
Chuck Knoblauch, Round 18, Pick 452, 1986
One of two guys in this article never to play a game in a Phillies uniform, Knoblauch nonetheless put together an impressive big-league career. An extra-base hit machine, albeit with limited power, Chuck amassed over 1,800 hits during his time in the show, hitting a career .289.
Knoblauch was taken out of Texas A&M University by the Phillies in 1986, but instead returned to school and was taken again by the Twins in 1989, where the rest is history. Who knows hot the 1993 world series changes with Knoblauch emerging as the hitting machine he came to be, but it’s hard to hate on a guy for not signing, now looking at his track record.
Ryne Sandberg, Round 20, Pick 511, 1978
Sandberg remains one the great mishaps in Phillies trade history. After being signed out of North Central High School in Spokane, Washington, Sandberg debuted at 21 and played only 13 games in a Phillies uniform. In hindsight, trading him to the Cubs was simply put a horrible decision.
Sandberg went on to become one of the more prolific offensive second basemen in baseball history, hitting nearly 300 homers and almost 2,400 hits in a Cubs uniform. A Cub for the rest of his career, Sandberg retired in 1997, whereupon, as we all unfortunately know, he went into coaching.
Ryne returned to the Phils organization as manager of the Lehigh Valley IronPigs and became Phils manager in 2013. A Hall of Fame player, Sandberg proved less competent as a manager and is now spending his days as a Cubs goodwill ambassador.
Kyle Freeland, Round 35, Pick 1081, 2011
While he ended up becoming a first round pick to the Colorado Rockies out of Evansville, this was still quite a selection by the Phillies in recognizing talent this late in the draft. Luck? Maybe, but Freeland wasn’t heralded by college programs and the Phillies still managed to find him.
Freeland progressed quickly Rockies system, reaching the big leagues in 2017. He pitched to 17 wins and a 2.85 ERA, which is incredible considering half his starts are in Coors Field. After struggling in his big league season, 2020 was supposed to be a bounce-back year for the young star from Denver.