2014 Phillies Draft Preview - A few final names to look for

USA TODAY Sports

With Round 1 just over 24 hours away, I had a few final names I wanted to talk about for Round 2 and beyond.

Brett Austin, C NC State - The Phillies almost always draft a Catcher in the top 4 rounds. I assume Alex Jackson is long gone by pick 7 and no one is really worth the Second Rounder, but Austin should be there in the Third and would be a good grab. Austin is a switch hitter, which is fairly uncommon for a Catcher. He's also not a plodder and will steal a few bases here and there (he sometimes bats leadoff for NC State, which is an odd strategic decision for a team with Trea Turner, but I digress). I have him at 4.4 seconds down the line in the video below (courtesy Ryan Sullivan) and that's with a fairly wide path and turn to Second. I've seen quite a bit of Austin the last few years and he reminds me a little of Andrew Knapp, as he's a guy much more advanced hitting than defending. His arm is pretty average for Catcher (and he's not helped by the fact that Rodon doesn't even vaguely acknowledge the existence of baserunners). He's not a great pitch framer currently and moves too much on catches. His blocking is getting better, but he still lets some stuff slip by. He should be able to stick at Catcher, but he'll need a few years of coaching to get there. If a team doesn't like his D, he's athletic enough to play Corner Outfield on either side with an adequate arm for Right. He's a better hitter from the left side with very good bat speed and better power. His Righty stroke is a bit slower and flatter with more doubles power. One of my favorite things about Austin is his patience, he has a good eye for Pitches and will wait and work a walk if he doesn't get something. He doesn't often chase outside the zone. Austin was drafted in 2011 with pick number 54 and it's not crazy to think he could be a target for the Phillies this year at 47. This year's draft is so hard to read because it is so Pitching heavy that hitters could climb the board solely due to scarcity (I'm an advocate for never drafting for need, but that doesn't mean teams never do it). I really like Austin, though I'm partial to NC State guys due to location and seeing them so much.

 

 

Scott Blewett, RHP High School, New York - Blewett checks some Phillies boxes. He's tall (6'6"), he's from the Northeast where the Phillies scouting is pretty strong (Baldwinsville, NY), he would immediately have one of the better Fastballs in the Org. Regularly working mid-90's (up to 96) and his frame could support probably 15-20 pounds of muscle beyond current weight (~230lbs). With that extra muscle you could imagine a few extra ticks on the Fastball so he's working mid-to-upper 90's. His Fastball currently has good movement and would project above-average to plus. Beyond that it gets murkier. He has a Curve which flashes well and could end up an Above-Average offering and a Changeup which, while good for a High Schooler, still needs a bit of work. He throws the change with arm speed similar to his Fastball and slotted similar and it has good movement. Overall he's tall and he needs to tighten up some mechanics and work on his control. Could be a mid-rotation or better Starter, but carries the risk all tall Pitchers do that he'll never get his mechanics consistent enough. All that said Blewett's pretty athletic and if I were a gambler, I'd bet on him getting them squared away that he could be a Trevor May type in 4 or 5 years, as a floor. Plus, come on, he's wearing a damned Phillies uniform in the video below. One word of caution is that Blewett missed several starts this Spring due to Shoulder Soreness, though it sounds like it was precautionary given his draft stock by his coach. If he stayed healthy I think Blewett would have been a mid-First Round guy.

 

J.J. Schwarz, C High School Florida - I'll admit this one's not likely. The Phillies typically take College Catchers high and gamble on High School Catchers later in the draft. It's easy to understand why, as very few positions are riskier than High School Catcher. Often guys are all bat and get moved to the Outfield or Third base or they're all Defense and never develop as hitters. I like Schwarz though. He's a 6'1" 190lb Florida commit. JJ runs like a Catcher, so he's a fairly Catcher or bust prospect, unlike Brett Austin and Alex Jackson who are fleet enough for an OF corner. Currently Defense is JJ's strength he has a plus arm, good receiving skills and looks like a future pro behind the plate. Next to the plate he has good patience as a hitter and a smooth swing scouts like. He projects to develop good power. If that profile looks familiar it's pretty similar to what was written about Tommy Joseph when he was drafted. Catchers have odd development curves and because of the rigors of squating for 3 hours a day while people throw baseballs 90 miles an hour at your face, many guys never develop their bats like you expect (in fact even big successes like Joe Mauer, never develop as expected. Mauer was thought to have plus or better power potential, and while he's been an excellent hitter, he only had one season that really showed plus power as a hitter). Video courtesy of Baseball Instinct.

 

 

Jake Stinnett, RHP U of Maryland - Admittedly I'm reviewing Stinnett largely because he was selected by our imaginary GM Reillocity in the Minor League Ball Community Draft last weekend. As noted there, the biggest thing in Stinnett's favor is that he's a College Senior and can be signed well below slot. That frees up money to buy other picks out of College commitments. Stinnett is a 6'4" Righty with, quite possibly, the best control/command profile in the Draft. He pitches his Fastball low to mid-90's and he has a Slider he could probably take a gnat's wing off with if you asked him (that is to say he throws it with absurd accuracy, allowing it to play much better than the pure stuff would suggest). He has a Changeup that exists. Stinnett won't be an Ace. In fact, with his 2-pitch repertoire he may not even be a Starter. I do think he has potential to develop into a solid enough #4 Starer or solid bullpen guy who could dominate in short stretches (and could probably do so in a couple years). Stinnett was the Maryland Third Baseman until a few years ago, so he's plenty athletic and raw enough that it's conceivable he could still master an additional pitch or two to Start. His follow through is a little unusual as you can see in the video from Baseball America below.

 

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