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Froback Friday - The 2008 MLB Draft

It's tough to grade drafts when they occur. It's a fool's errand that this fool will engage in about 3 weeks from now. However, we can fairly start grading a 6 year old draft which has likely procued all the Major Leaguers it's likley to produce.

Zach Collier
Zach Collier
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The 2008 MLB Draft was not a great one. It had some talent at the top in Buster Posey, Eric Hosmer, Pedro Alvarez, Tim Beckham (whoops) and others, but by the late teens and twenties it was a crapshoot of lottery tickets and low ceiling College guys. The Phillies had two picks, 24 overall and a Compensation pick at 34 overall. I have a certain preference when there are two First Round picks, once is a lottery ticket you use on a high ceiling/low floor guy and the other gets used on a guy more certain to provide value. A lower ceiling, College guy who you feel confident can contribute. I don't run the Phillies draft though.

The Phillies went lottery ticket on their first pick taking remarkably raw, remarkably athletic Anthony Hewitt who played Shortstop in High School. No one saw Hewitt as having a chance to play Short in the pros. He was athletic enough, had plenty of arm and range/speed, but he was so raw Defensively and Offensively he never would have stood a chance of improving while trying to learn both sets of skills. Legend has it that Hewitt came to his visit to the Phillies and put on a fireworks show in BP and that was enough to convince the Phillies to take him. This pick doesn't really bother me as much as it does others. You have two picks and if you could unlock Hewitt's tools (he was, at minimum, a three-tool player) you could have had an absolute superstar. As it turns out the Phillies couldn't unlock those tools. Hewitt racked up an impressive total of errors for an Outfielder (routinely overthrowing or just throwing to entirely the wrong spot). He never managed to master hitting same side Pitching, an issue if 80-some percent of the Pitchers you face are same side, and remained only slightly less raw as a baseball player than when he was picked. That Hewitt is still with the Phillies today is a testament to his reputation as a hard worker and well liked player. Sure, he could still unlock his talents, he's fairly young, but he's most likely a journeyman, Org. filler at this point.

With their second First Round pick, the Phillies, drunk on gambling madness, decided to put another chip on the roulette table. With College arms Lance Lynn, Wade Miley and Tanner Scheppers still on the board, the Phillies took, highly athletic, quite raw High School OF Zach Collier. Collier has been better than Hewitt Offensively and Defensively, but that's not exactly high praise. Collier was a Souther Cal guy, an area the Phils scout heavily and fairly successfully. Like Hewitt, Collier is a 3 to potentially 5-tool guy who never consistently unlocked his hit tool. e shows flashes for 20-30 ABs where he'll hit like a superstar, then he'll follow it up by going 2 for 50 with 20 K's and reminding you not to get so excited. Coming into 2014, there was still hope that Collier, who's on the 40-man, could work his way into a John Mayberry Jr. type role, but that looks less likely as time goes by. I like Collier, but a safer College arm would have been nice.

The Phillies had two more pick in Round 2, a compensation pick at 51 overall and their usual pick at 71 overall. Again, you could go safe and lottery pick here, but I'm not the gambler the 2008 Phillies were. At 51 overall, the Phillies took uber-atletic, fairly raw Southern Cal High School OF Anthony Gose. Gose immediately gave the Phillies one of the handful of fastest players in baseball. He ended up being a key piece in the trade for Roy Oswalt. He's played a bit in the Majors for Toronto, but he's still a work in progress, sometimes showing a weak bat and in 2013 a near complete immunity to Walks. His Major League sample size is small and he's still only 23, so he could improve, but right now he looks like a 4th Outfielder. Still he was a key piece in getting the Phillies a frontline Starter, so that's a win.

With the second pick of round 2, the Phillies took New Jersey fireballer Jason Knapp. Knapp was very promising, racking up enormous K totals with pretty good Control. The Phillies included him in the trade for Cliff Lee in 2009. Sadly, Knapp then fell apart as his shoulder blew up, required surgery and the Blue Jays cut him loose in 2013. He's now pitching for Texas' High A affiliate, where his control, in a small sample, is alarmingly abysmal. Knapp was a greta pick both because he got the team an Ace Starter and Cy Young Pitcher, but also because if he had avoided the injury bug, he was well on his way to be a frontline Starter himself.

So, with 4 picks in the first 2 rounds, the Phillies were degenerate gamblers. I hate to make post hoc analysis of who they should have picked, but on the table at each Round 2 pick were Danny Espinosa, Tyson Ross and Charlie Blackmon, all College guys and all contributors. No stars though. Gambling is exactly what you should do with extra picks, but make some safe decisions to ensure you can still survive if the gambles all fail.

The Phillies had two more picks in the Third. This time they took the gambling route and safe route taking Vance Worley witht he 102 overall pick. Worley was a College Pitcher form Cal State Long Beach, a Phillies hot bed of Scouting. Worley was valuable enough to provide nearly 3.5 rWAR and prove a fairly reliable #4 Starter. With the second pick, the Phillies took Jon Pettibone, who is a viable #5 Starter/bullpen arm. That's not bad return for two 3rd round picks.

The Phillies didn't really skip anyone of note between there and their 4th round pick (Jason Kipnis was selected just ahead of the Phillies Round 4 pick, but he did not sign). The Phillies only had one Fourth Round pick and used it on a High School Pitcher from the Pacific Northwest named Trevor May. DJ Heybeef (seriously) has shown a knack for racking up both Strikeouts and Walks. He was traded for Ben Revere in 2013 (along with the aforementioned Worley) and has actually improved his walk rate this year in Triple-A enough that he may find a spot as a #3 man in the Twins rotation. It's early, but it looks like he's making progress and could be the first of the awfully named "baby Aces" to make the Majors. May was a good pick and to get a mid-rotation starter in round 4 is pretty fine return on investment.

In the 5th the Phillies drafted a College First Baseman who was incapable of making contact and was out of affiliated pro-ball within 2 years. Whoops. Jeremy Hamilton was a pretty big miss, but so was virtually everyone else thaken between there and the 6th round pick of Colby Shreve. Shreve was a Junior College Pitcher who had neither great stuff, nor great control. He's now out of baseball. The Phillies round 7 pick didn't sign. Their 8th round pick , Julio Rodriguez made a bit of buzz for himself in some circles pitching to a good line in Low-A. The wheels fell off in Double-A and after a 9.43 ERA in 2013, the Orioles cut him loose. He's currently pitching in an Independent league.. The Phillies wrapped up the top 10 rounds by taking Cody Overbeck a College Third baseman who couldn't field, but had plenty of power. Overbeck is a classic AAAA player, who I hope gets a cup of coffee some day. They took a High School Catcher in Round 10 who never made it out of A ball.

The Phillies got some value beyond Round 10 as well. Taking since released Mike Stutes in Round 11, Bj Rosenberg in the 13th, Mike Schwimer in the 14th, Tyler Cloyd in the 18th, Steve Susdorf in the 19th and Jarred Cosart in the 38th Round. Cosart was an overslot signing and a guy you could never get that low with the current draft rules. Cosart was part of an infamous trade and has been a fairly successful starter for the Astros. The other guys mentioned as taken post Round 10 are largely AAAA guys. Beyond them I suspect Troy Hanzawa could eventually get a cup of coffee as a pro. His bat is thoroughly anemic, but he's in the Tigers Org now, so it's not like he's blocked by some strong hitters and his glove is good enough he could do the John McDonald thing in brief stretches. He's one of those hard working guys you kind of can't help but root for. Jim Murphy is the other guy in the Andy Tracy mold that you just want the Phillies to call up for a few weeks one September to reward him for everything he's done for you in the system. He couldn't stick in the Majors, but I suspect he'll get a brief call-up at some point in his career.

This draft gets derided a lot, and for fairly good reason due to the lack of value acquired in the Top 2 rounds. Honestly though, this draft could end up with 3 or 4 MLB regulars (Gose, Worley, Pettibone and Cosart) and not many drafts have that. None will be stars, in all likliehood, but this draft is not as barren as the top picks may make it look. This may be damning with faint praise, but, by WAR alone, this is the best Phillies draft, so far, of the last decade.