Leading up to last Thursday the conventional wisdom was that there was no conventional wisdom regarding this draft. That said there was a lot of speculation that the Phillies would go College bat or arm at 1:1, then overslot High Schooler at 2:1. Even minutes prior to the draft there was still a lot of chatter about the somewhat last minute workout slugger Kyle Lewis had with the Phillies as a potential case for him going 1:1. As it turns out Lewis went at #11 to the Mariners (exactly as I predicted in the draft thread. No need to fact check that.). Meanwhile the Phillies went High School hitter with their top pick. Once you've done that the options are to either double down by going overslot at 2:1 or play it safe and take a College player who fell at 2:1, then use your extra pool money in later rounds on multiple kids.
The Phillies took the first option and selected California Prep Pitcher Kevin Gowdy, a Right Hander from Santa Barbara. The first thing I noted is this kid is in for a serious step down in terms of neighborhood. Nothing against Clearwater, but few towns are steps up from Santa Barbara. On a less domestic side, it's a fantastic value pick for the Phillies. Gowdy is one of the best Pitching prospects in this class who probably should have gone 5-10 picks higher, at least. Last Fall he was on the radar as a kid who could even be in Top 10 consideration. He slid a bit beyond projections and it's likely a combination of other prospects making big jumps in stuff, while Gowdy made his usual steady improvement and a bit of what John Sickels' likes to call prospect fatigue (the idea scouts get so exposed to a kid over years that he stops impressing them as much as newer prospects who may be less polished).
On to the basics of Gowdy: He's a 6'4" 175 lbs Right Handed Pitcher. His fastball is 90-94 mph and he pairs it with a potentially nasty Slider and a Changeup that shows Plus potential. My first observation is that Gowdy has quite a tall, lanky build with lots of space to fill out. He looks to be pretty broad shouldered in photos so I think he could add muscle and perhaps fill out to 200-210 lbs (think Cole Hamels' build, but stop there this is not a comp for stuff). If Gowdy adds 25-30 pounds of good weight, with his mechanics it's not crazy to think he could end up with a Fastball that ranges more 92-96 mph.
On draft night my colleague Victor wrote a great summary of this pick and linked to a Hudson Belinsky story (not for nothing Hudson is my favorite prospect guy out there. He's got a really good eye and does a nice job distilling what he sees into informative, entertaining reads. Also he has a Grade 70 name, like a Coen Brothers character). That piece by Belinsky includes so many nuggets. It's a must read for Phillies fans curious about the kid. It says so much about his work ethic and his mechanics and his stuff.
A few notes on his mechanics, every source raves about his ability to repeat his mechanics consistently. From looking at video, I love how clean they are and they avoid a few of my personal sore spots. His front foot lands with toes facing home plate, a good sign for future growth in Command (which is already advanced for his age). He also stays back and drives with his lower half, so as the muscle comes the velocity associated with it will be easy. And the easy velocity should also mean better control and command. One item that is a small concern is something that reminds me of Mark Appel, that huge stride in his delivery. He'll need a few years to learn how to pitch as well out of the stretch. His combination of pitching smarts, work ethic and athleticism leads me to believe he can do it.
In the comments on Victor's article Terd Fergusson's Hat noted that Gowdy reminds him of Nola. The delivery and stuff and build are different, but I think there's a similarity in the profiles in that both have such good command and deception in their delivery that I expect that, like Nola, Gowdy may be able to play above his ceiling a bit. That ceiling is #2 Starter with an achievable floor of #3 Starter (if, say, the fastball never really ticks up, or one of his secondaries never gets totally consistent). It's a long road ahead of Gowdy as even this rather glowing profile on him lists that he needs to add 25-30 pounds of good weight, learn to pitch from the stretch, get consistency in his secondary pitches, add a couple mph to his fastball without losing movement.
I'm pretty excited about Gowdy (seemingly the one player I never previewed for 2:1, as I was confident he'd be gone). I think he'll need 4 years in the Minors to work through things and a lot can happen in that time, but I think in both the First and Second Rounds, the Phillies went High Schoolers, but likely took the highest floor hitter and highest floor High School Pitcher in the draft. That's a pretty neat trick. Video from the Prospect Pipeline.