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2015 Phillies draft preview - Tyler Stephenson, C

You should never draft for need in the MLB draft and instead you should focus on the best player available. Still, in such a shallow draft where not much separates players need can fairly be considered. The Phillies have very heavily scouted Stevenson. What might they be seeing?

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

"Don't draft for need" is an old axiom in many drafts in sports, but it's especially true in baseball. There's really no need to draft position specific in baseball. For one, even Kris Bryant, Mike Trout and Bryce Harper, some of the fastest rising players in baseball all took 2-3 years to make their debut. Most players take longer, in the 3-5 year range. A lot can change in terms of team needs in that time. The second factor is that if you focus on a positional need you could end up drafting a middling backup Catcher instead of an OF who grows into an All Star. Lastly, specific to High School Catchers, it's a tremendously volatile position to Draft. Starting with 2010, the earliest you could really expect a HS Catcher to make the Majors from and show any skills, the list of HS Catchers selected is: Kellin Deglan (Org. player), Justin O'Connor (a prospect, but polarizing), Steve Baron (fringe prospect who could get backup role), Kyle Skipworth (Org. player on his second team), Devin Mesoraco, Travis d'Arnaud, Max Sapp (out of baseball since 2008), Hank Conger, Brandon Snyder (Org. player), Neil Walker (currently playing Second for the Pirates), Jon Poterson (out of baseball since 2006), Daric Barton (hasn't caught a game since 2005), Salty, Joe Mauer, Jeff Mathis (career backup). That's 10 years with 1 star, a couple role players and maybe a few guys the book is still pending on.

All that said if you have two guys and one your scouts garde out to be a 55 as an OF and one who scouts grade to be 55 and a Catcher, then drafting for need can be justified. This is a long way to get around to Tyler Stephenson a 6'4" 210 lb Catcher from Kennesaw Mountain, GA. The Phillies have scouted the bejesus out of this kid with Ruben Amaro and 3 members of the Scouting department going to his 06 May game, per Kiley McDaniel at Fangraphs. That was a double header in which Tyler caught both games. It's also the night Stephenson became a trending topic following a bat flip where the bat may still be in orbit somewhere. 

Now the story here is that the massive Catcher Led off the game with a massive Homer and was intentionally walked in 3 subsequent plate appearances. In his fifth plate appearance the opponent decided to pitch to him and both ball and bat went waaaay skyward. Now, on one hand perhaps you worry a bit about maturity when a guy sends a bat into orbit, but you can overlook that when the guy shows the tools for Plus or better power.

One of the nice things about that vine (from Kiley McDaniel, btw) is you get repeat looks at a really fast swing with a lot of loft. There's a reasonable leg kick from a wide stance and some hand load. The load could make the swing a little long, but that is a fast bat. It may also be the most power of anyone in this draft (especially with Murray withdrawing from the draft unofficially with a rock solid Texas A&M commitment).

There's a little risk to his defensive profile, but he has a Plus arm (he's draftable as a Pitcher too, where he throws low 90's heat) and shows the tools to stick behind the dish. That doesn't mean he'll stay there though. If a team likes the bat enough you could move him to Right Field or First Base and let that power bat take off by letting him focus on it.

I will also note that no other player has developed more helium this spring than Stephenson. Early in the process he was projected as an early Second Rounder, then he just went nuts hitting this Spring and has shot himself up draft boards everywhere. The problem this year in the Draft is that most prospects haven't done much to distinguish themselves. Stephenson is one of the exceptions, but that could be a problem for the Phillies. He may not be done rising, but he's one of the more intriguing prep bats. As with every power hitter there is the risk that he can't get over contact issues and that makes him riskier than the other Prep bats the Phillies are interested in, but he's the guy with the most potential impact if he can hit well enough.