Drafts are inherently volatile the further out you are from them, yet you can already find Mock Drafts (I follow the NFL draft very closely as well, and I recall seeing 2015 Mock Drafts for that during the Preseason). I don't bother much with rankings this far out. Last year at this time Carlos Rodon was the slam dunk top pick and Brady Aiken was an intriguing Lefty with an Upper-80's Fastball who was projected to go in the middle of the First Round. In fact I mentioned early on last year how much I thought Aiken looked like a good bet for the Phillies, until he showed up and started throwing low-mid-90's Heaters and rocketed himself to the Top pick.
I mention all this because I'm starting to decide who I want to profile. Last year I think I ended up profiling half of the First Round and a good chunk of the Second. The volatility makes it tougher to narrow the focus, plus whereas last year was a deep draft with the Phillies picking quite high, 2015 looks much shallower. In fact, early on 2015 looks like one of the lesser draft classes in several years. Of course, we're still 6 months out, so a whole lot can change between now and even March. The strength in last year's draft looked to be Pitchers, both High School and College. This year, there are some College arms you could squint and see #2 upside with, but it's a very thin class with a lot of question marks about injuries (Aiken's elbow, Matuella's back, Beuhler's rather diminutive build), performance (Bickford, Funkhouser) and ability as Starters (Ferrell, Jay and Tate were all relievers heading into Fall 2014, but will be pushed to rotations for 2015). Certainly redrafts are some of the more intriguing names this year: Aiken and Nix - the two unsigned picks of the Astros last year, Bickford (a 2013 First Rounder, who underwhelmed at Cal State- Fullerton, but impressed on the Cape this summer and transferred to a JuCo to become Draft eligible for '15), and Mac Marshall (another Astros draftee who didn't sign).
The real intriguing pieces this year are Prep bats, which makes me very curious to see if the Phillies stick to the safe College player strategy they took last year (signing only 1 High School pick) or will they go the Prep bat route, as they frequently have in the past. Brendan Rodgers is the current hot commodity among prep bats - a natural hitter with power and the tools to stay at Shortstop, he's ranked #1 by both Baseball America and MLB.com (though there may be no more volatile position than High School Shortstop in terms of ranking - and subsequent performance).Of course, the Phillies also have a new Scouting Director in Almaraz, a former Braves and Reds Scout. Will that effect draft strategy? The Phillies had hot beds under Wolever (and Arbuckle before him), drafting heavily from California, the Pac Northwest and Florida, while not having much luck in Texas or Georgia, will the focus be changed any or additional resources be deployed in new areas? Hard to say, but one thing that isn't is that after 2014 you can't reliably label a Draft prospect as being the Phillies "type".
Here's who I'm planning on covering in the coming months:
- Brady Aiken, LHP
- Daz Cameron, OF
- Brendan Rodgers, SS
- Michael Matuella, RHP (Honestly, I live so close to Duke/UNC/NC State that I see tons of these guys and can always write them up)
Other names I'm considering covering:
- Justin Hooper, LHP (A flame throwing Lefty who works upper-90's, with some wildness)
- Kolby Allard, LHP (a short Lefty works mid-90's with good secondaries and control, not much projection)
- Dansby Swanson, 2B/SS (should move quick and replace Utley, but middling ceiling with limited power)
- Skye Bolt, OF (yes, that's his real name. He's more a mid-round guy, as it stands, but he's got some power, speed, can play all 3 OF spots, he has more walks than K's at UNC and his name is basically lightning -how could I not review that? Seriously.)