Taking Stock of the Phillies 2010 Draft

And just like that, we can close the book on the 2010 draft. While it will take quite awhile for the dust to settle in the case of some teams (ahem, and ahem, and especially ahem), we're a little more cut-and-dry here in Phillies land. The big name not to sign before Monday's deadline was 5th rounder Scott Frazier, who will now have the misfortune of heading to Pepperdine University. But the deadline madness was anything but a total waste for the organization, as the Phillies ponied up a cool $1 million to sign three late round selections that make this draft class look like a successful one.

So let's highlight some of the draftees and try to determine how the Phillies did here.

The Deadline Prizes

For me, Kevin Walter was the real prize of the deadline scramble. The 20th rounder from Colorado is a 6'6", 220-lb. right hander, so he has the kind of projection the Phillies covet as an organization. But what sets Walter apart is that he already has an advanced feel for two breaking pitches (both a curve and a slider), so if his velocity ticks up from its current 88-90 as his frame fills out, he could end up being the steal of this draft class.

Sunday's above slot signings are intriguing in their own right. 28th rounder Brian Pointer is a 6'0", 190-lb. outfielder with solid tools across the board, with scouting reports indicating that he should be able to stick in center field, where his average raw power would qualify as above-average for the position. Most importantly (to me at least), scouts seem to like his swing -- Baseball America credits him with "a quiet set-up and a smooth swing with loft" -- so he's not as raw as the typical Phillies high school outfielder. 21st rounder Jonathan Musser is yet another projectable right hander, though the 6'5", 205-lb. Iowan spent much of the spring on the shelf with a shoulder injury. Andy Seiler gives Musser's curve a chance to be a plus pitch, so the organization will certainly be happy to add a now healthy Musser to its stable of young arms.

That First Round Pick

We've written a bit about Jesse Biddle since his selection in the 1st round of June's draft, but let's take a step back and look at the big picture here. Biddle was considered something of an overdraft at the time, and the fact that he quickly signed for slot money had the "The Phillies are cheap!" crowd out in droves. I hate to shamelessly self-quote, but here's what I said at the time about the pick...

...[T]he Phillies didn't grab the absolute most talented player on the board, but it's by no means a bad pick. Power lefties don't grow on trees, and the Phillies should probably get the benefit of the doubt with Biddle being from their backyard (they did, after all, do pretty well in focusing on and then drafting New Jersey hurler Jason Knapp back in 2008).  Biddle should sign for slot money, and if recent draft history is anything to go by, the Phillies will likely try to sign a few overslot guys in later rounds -- and if the money "saved" by nabbing Biddle instead of, say, Stetson Allie, nets them an extra overslot guy or two, then the selection makes a lot of sense.

To use Allie as an example, he signed with the Pirates yesterday for $2.25 million -- more than $1 million more than Biddle signed for. Some quick math shows that between Walter ($350K), Pointer ($350K), and Musser ($300K), the Phillies spent that extra $1 million it would have cost to sign Allie instead of Biddle. The Phillies clearly have a budget, and while we can argue until we're blue in the face whether it should be bigger or not, it doesn't change the fact that they have to work within whatever budget is set. Given the choice between Allie on one hand, and Biddle, Walter, Pointer, and Musser on the other, I choose the latter every time. There's just such an absurd attrition rate with prospects that it makes sense to diversify the investment.

As for Biddle himself, even after a rough outing yesterday, his 33.1 inning sample this year still looks great: 11.1 K/9, 2.4 BB/9, 0.54 HR/9, 39.4% GB, 2.33 FIP. He's definitely a Top 10 prospect in the system in my book, and I'm excited to see what he can do next year after a full offseason spent with a pro conditioning staff and pitching coordinators.

College Kids with Upside

I mentioned in the recap of the draft's second day that 2nd rounder Perci Garner is intriguing precisely because he isn't a typical Phillies draft choice. The 6'2", 225-lb. right hander has impressive raw stuff, with a fastball that touches 97, a hammer curve, and a slider and change up that project as at least fringe-average. Garner has flashed inconsistent results, probably as a result of his dual sport commitment, and he's been on the shelf with "arm discomfort" after a pair of poor outings for Williamsport in late June; but this is the club probably just being cautious, and we can fully expect to see a healthy Garner next spring, probably in Lakewood.

6th rounder Gauntlett Eldemire is also on the shelf right now, his absence the result of early July wrist surgery. In the piece linked above, I compared Eldemire to former Phils prospect Michael Taylor -- both are physical monsters with plus raw power, and both struggled to unlock their potential throughout their college careers before flashing some impressive performances in their respective junior years. Eldemire is a 6'3", 195-lb. outfielder with enough speed to stick in center if he can improve his jumps and routes, and enough raw power to project as a real impact player at that position. The question will be whether Eldemire can make enough contact to unlock that raw power, but that's a great gamble to take in the 6th round.

Tennessee lefty Bryan Morgado has the raw stuff to blow away scouts, with a plus fastball that touches 97 and an above-average slider he throws in the low 80s. What isn't plus is the 4th rounder's command, as evidenced by his 5.0 BB/9 in college, and more poignantly, his 16 walks in 10 innings for Williamsport this summer. Morgado's coming off of a rough redshirt junior season, but he's looked dominant at times (specifically the Cape Cod League in 2009), so if the Phillies can straighten out the lefty's control, they could eventually have a power set up man on their hands.

Odds and Ends

I've mentioned 3rd rounder Cameron Rupp in a previous prospect roundup: the defensive skills and plus raw power is a nice combination, but he'll need to continue to make contact as he climbs the ladder in order to make it as a big leaguer. I'm more excited than I probably should be about the organization's other big catching selection, 14th rounder Chace Numata. A switch hitting shortstop who doubled for his high school team as a right hander capable of touching 94, Numata has all the tools to be a successful conversion project, and I like that he's controlled the strike zone well (8:10 BB:K) in limited action in the Gulf Coast League.

The organization balanced the aforementioned high upside young arms with a number of solid college hurlers. 35th round right hander Eric Pettis is bidding to be the Austin Hyatt of this year's draft class, posting a 1.31 FIP in 47.2 innings for Williamsport thus far. 10th rounder Mario Hollands has pitched pretty well for the Crosscutters in his own right, and the lefty has a chance to be a four pitch guy who can slot in at the back of the rotation -- provided his iffy mechanics hold up. 7th rounder David Buchanan, on the other hand, has struggled in the New York-Penn League, but both his fastball and curve ball project as above-average offerings; if he can overcome the command problems that have thus far held him back, he has a shot to be a mid-rotation starter.

Wrapping Up

Phuture Phillies' draft wrap-up has a lengthy discussion addressing the "Why don't the Phillies spend more?" question, and rather than regurgitate that, I'll point you over there. The simple fact, though, is that the organization has ramped up its efforts to sign above slot guys in recent drafts after years of toeing the line, and we're seeing the benefits of such a strategy in the system right now. Credit where it's due to the front office for moving in the right direction -- now we'll just have to hope that they see those benefits and continue to revise the draft budget upwards in the coming years.

If I had to put a letter grade on this draft, I'd fall somewhere in the B to B+ range. I like it better than 2009, but not quite as much as the banner 2008 crop. Biddle is the real gem of the class, and I like Walter and Garner best beyond him -- but I like the calculated gambles the organization has taken with Pointer, and Eldemire, and Numata, and Morgado.

Let's just keep our fingers crossed that next year at this time, we're talking about the 2011 draft class in reverent tones. Between a stacked class and a likely pair of compensatory picks garnered from Jayson Werth's departure, the Phillies will once again have the opportunity to add talent to the system.

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