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2019 Phillies draft preview: Less likely First Round options

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Atlanta Braves v Philadelphia Phillies
Not draft eligible
Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images

I’m going to preview 3 guys the Phillies have little to no chance of getting. I’m previewing them for various reasons I’ll mention in the previews. These won’t be full previews, more of a paragraph or two giving a summary of the player, followed by video. If any of these players look like they might drop for whatever reason, I’ll write up a follow-up preview going into more depth.

Bobby Witt, Jr., SS
Texas High School

There is no chance Witt drops to 14, short of one of his limbs falling off. The ceiling here is higher than anyone in the draft and would be among the highest in baseball (Alex Rodriguez as a ceiling with Francisco Lindor as a somewhat realistic outcome - maybe more Ks, but perhaps around the same triple slash anyway). I’m previewing Witt, because this is a player who could be a nearly generational talent. Witt is a 6’1” 185 lb right-handed hitter. With all 5 tools. Plus arm (though some accuracy lapses), plus defense, plus runner, at least above average power (I’ve seen a few plus reports, and given his exceptional bat speed and exit velocities it’s pretty realistic), the question is his hit tool. He has great barrel control which has allowed him to hit well despite some substantial swing and miss. I’ll post a video below and say something I often don’t: this kid needs a big leg kick. His timing seems off a lot in videos I’ve watched. His foot lands early and throws him off timing wise, I think with his bat speed he can use a big leg kick and adjust to velocities and his barrel control with that speed will offset any problems the kick causes with timing. A bigger kick and closer stance might also help him keep his eyes more level.

Andrew Vaughn, 1B
University of California

There’s a far outside chance Vaughn could last to 14. The worst profile in baseball is the short, right-handed First Baseman. Vaughn is a 5’11” 214 lb, right-handed First Baseman. A player with that profile has never been drafted in the First Round in draft history as best I can tell (sometimes guys get labeled at positions they never played or play in the future, so it’s hard to be 100% sure without putting way more time into this than is worth it). For that matter only a handful of First Basemen have been selected in the top 10 picks. The quality there ranges widely from guys who never made the Majors to the adequate Yonder Alonso to the Hall of Famer Frank Thomas. Vaughn though might be this years Nick Madrigal, a traditionally bad draft profile who has such otherworldly skills that he gets picked high anyway. Vaughn’s line last year is mind-boggling .402/.531/.819 with 44 walks to 18 K’s. This year, so far, he’s at .365/.544/.716 with 25 walks and 15 K’s. It goes without saying the hit and power are plus tools. He runs like a First Baseman, so no surprise there. The arm is good enough to play Third and some scouts think the glove and footwork give him a chance to play there. He player Shortstop in High School and played some Third last fall, but nothing in any game action. One can hope 13 teams get cold feet about the profile, but since that’s unlikely we can all hope he ends up in the AL.

Daniel Espino, RHP
Georgia High School

Espino originally looked realistic and I had started working on reviewing him, but he’s off to a good start and rising up draft boards and now looks unlikely to make it out of the top 10. I also had a twitter request to review him. Espino is a 6’3” 200 lb Pitcher with a double-plus fastball with lots of movement. There’s some projection, but he already works 93-97 mph, so additional velocity would be nice, but not needed. He has a low 80’s Slider which shows Plus, a mid 80’s Changeup that shows potential (a High Schooler with a changeup of any note is rare) and he’s thrown a few Curves, but it’s more of a surprise pitch than anything to really assess. For me Espino is the best High School Pitcher in this draft and has the highest ceiling of any Pitcher in this draft. The command/control is pretty average for a High Schooler, so you have to project a good bit to get an Ace ceiling, but it’s a realistic possibility from a young, athletic Pitcher. Of course, the floor is a guy who’s control never improves and he retires in A-ball. He could be just about anything in between.