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Putting a Bow on the 2009 Draft

With yesterday's news that 7th round pick Brody Colvin signed, the Phillies wrapped up the last of 34 picks they signed from the 2009 draft class.  While by no means an earth-shattering haul, the organization nabbed a solid group of talent this year.  As anyone who sees the constantly escatating contracts garnered by free agents understands, young, cost-controlled talent is at a premium in the modern game, and while none of the 2009 draftees will pull on an MLB uniform for quite some time yet (if at all), it is nonetheless crucial that the organization uses every opportunity to replenish its young talent.

With that rant out of the way, let's take a look at how the Phillies did this year.

The Prize

Good things come to those who wait, yada yada, etc., but that's certainly true here.  Colvin, a righthanded high school pitcher, immediately becomes the most talented player from this draft class.  The 6'4", 190-lb. Colvin features a fastball with good movement and a developing curveball.  He had been committed to play for reigning NCAA champion LSU, but a $900K bonus offer from the Phillies convinced him to forego college.

In my mind, Colvin immediately slots in just outside the system's Top 10.  Jim Callis from Baseball America likes him for 9th in the system at this point.  Whatever the case, know this: between Colvin, Trevor May, Jonathan Pettibone, Jarred Cosart, Colby Shreve, 6th round pick Steven Inch (more below), and even Julio Rodriguez, the organization has a lot of hard-throwing young arms who have a chance.


The Slugger

I've mentioned him twice (here and here) in my Prospect Roundups, but I really can't say it enough: I'm very impressed with the early returns on 8th round pick Jonathan Singleton.  At 6'3" and 200 lbs., Singleton is a first baseman only, but scouts are impressed with his defensive ability.  Oh, and did I mention that he can swing the bat a little?  It will certainly take awhile for the 17-year old Singleton to tap into his (significant) power potential, but he's controlling the strike zone well already, and he just hit his second pro homer today.  Right now, I'd easily put him in the organizational Top 15 -- it looks like $200K well spent by the organization.

The (Other) High School Bats

If we learned anything from the 2008 draft, it's that the Phillies love their young, athletic high school hitters, and that theme carried over to this year.  3rd round pick Kyrell Hudson, a 6'1", 185-lb. outfielder from Washington who signed for an overslot bonus of $475K, passed on a football scholarship to Oregon St. to jump into pro ball, and he fits right into the Anthony Hewitt/Zach Collier/Anthony Gose mold of "athletes we're going to try to teach to play baseball."  Ditto Aaron Altherr, a rangy 6'5", 190-lb. outfielder from Arizona whom the Phils nabbed with their 10th round pick.

It's only now that we get to the organization's top pick this year, 2nd rounder Kelly Dugan.  Dugan isn't quite the freakish athlete that Hudson and Altherr are -- though he's likewise raw -- but as a switch-hitting outfielder, the organization sees him as a potential .290 hitter with 20-25 HR pop down the line.  The Phils were also able to ink 27th round catcher Marlon Mitchell and 47th round first baseman Ryan Bollinger to deals.

Give me your young, your tall, your projectable arms yearning to reach the majors...

In addition to Colvin, the Phils grabbed a number of high school and young juco arms.  They convinced 6th rounder Steven Inch, a 6'4", 195-lb. Candian righthander, to pass up a scholarship to Kentucky in favor of a $300K bonus-- something that doesn't happen all that often.  13th rounder Ryan Sasaki, a 6'5", 215-lb. southpaw from Texas, signed almost immediately.  33rd rounder Colvin Kleven was selected out of a Canadian community college and signed last week; the righthander stands 6'5" and weighs 200 lbs.

Each of the above trio is young (18 years old), tall, and projects to throw harder as he fills out.  You can never have enough pitching at any level, and the great thing about high school arms is that they have quite some time to put it all together.  Inch, with a high-80s fastball and a strike-throwing mentality, is the best of the bunch right now.

The Senior Signs

Ahhh, finally we get to Matt Way and his unhittable change-up.  The 6'1", 195-lb. lefthander, the organization's 5th round pick from Alaska by way of Washington St., signed almost immediately for just $30K, and his early pro results have been impressive.  He tops out in the mid- to high-80s but can throw 3 pitches for strikes consistently -- which makes him very difficult to hit at lower levels.  It won't be until he faces more advanced hitters that we get a read on whether he's a back-end starter or a bullpen piece going forward.

4th rounder Adam Buschini was actually a redshirt junior, but oh well -- he'll have to go here in the recap.  The second basemen flashed solid plate discipline and increased power production at Cal Poly his junior year, and has picked up his production at the pro level after a tough first month (as detailed in this week's Prospect Roundup).

A pair of later round pitchers are intriguing as relief prospects heading forward.  15th rounder Austin Hyatt served as Alabama's ace this year, and the 6'2", 180-lb. righthander throws strikes and mixes his pitches well.  10th rounder Josh Zeid, a 6'5", 210-lb. righthander from Tulane, finally put it together his senior year; his secondary stuff needs work, but he's apparently touched 95 at times on the gun.

As for hitters, I like 11th rounder Jeremy Barnes as a possibly utilityman down the road; the former Notre Dame shortstop is a grinder (in a good way), and hits for some pop.  Finally, keep an eye on 20th round selection Darin Ruf.  He's limited to first base defensively, but he controlled the strike zone very well throughout his college career, and he's at least got a chance with the bat going forward.

The Two that Got Away

No team signs everyone it drafts, and the 2009 Phils were no exception.  The inking of Colvin meant that the organization signed its top 12 picks, and 26 of its top 28.  The two missing out of that top 26: 14th round outfielder Jake Stewart, and 16th round catcher Andrew Susac.  Stewart, who will attend Stanford and re-enter the draft in 3 years, is yet another ultra-athletic outfielder; Susac is an Oregon St.-bound premium defensive receiver with solid power potential, but an approach at the plate that could use some work.

When it came down to it, it seems like the Phils had about $900K or so that it was willing to splurge on one of Colvin, Stewart, and Susac, and with Colvin rated the highest of the three, Marti Wolever & Co. were able to lock him up for that amount.  It's questionable whether the other two would have signed for that amount, but it's all academic now -- the Phils got the most talented of the three, and if they did indeed max out their budget, then we can't at all be disappointed in how it turned out.

Wrapping Up

My gut reaction is that this draft merits a grade somewhere in the B- range.  Credit to the front office for spending to get Colvin, a supplemental-type talent who becomes the organization's de facto first round pick.  I'm still not fully on board with the whole "draft athletes and make them baseball players" strategy, but Domonic Brown and Michael Taylor do show the merits of just such a strategy.

If I had one complaint, it's that the organization is sorely lacking in left-side infield prospects right now, and it did nothing to rectify that situation in the June draft.  Freddy Galvis and Travis Mattair represent the best prospect at the SS and 3B positions, respectively, and while they're both very good defensively, there are serious questions about whether either will hit enough to make it past Double-A, let alone to the majors.  All in all, though, it was a solid haul, and there's a lot to look forward to from the draftees heading forward.