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Phillies 2019 draft preview: first round arms

MLB: Philadelphia Phillies-Bryce Harper Press Conference Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Matthew Allan, RHP
Florida High School

Allan is a 6’3” 210 lbs RHP from the greater Orlando area. He has a plus fastball that has held velocity touching 97 even late in games this Spring. His control of the fastball comes and goes a bit, but it has improved from last summer. Another drawback to the fastball is that it’s pretty straight, so he’ll need his changeup to keep hitters honest in pro ball. He does have a firm changeup with some splitter action, but like most High School pitchers he rarely throws it, so it needs refinement, but it gets positive reviews from scouts. His best pitch is probably a 12-6 Curve with a double-plus ceiling. He currently has better control of it than the fastball and can throw it pretty reliably for strikes. He has the physique of an innings eating mid-rotation type, but if the control gets to above average he could even end up #2 starter. Of course, if the changeup doesn’t develop, I’m not even sure he can get past AA. Video from Prospect Pipeline.

George Kirby, RHP
Elon University

Kirby is a 6’4” 205 lbs RHP from a fairly small college in North Carolina. I should probably write a full preview of Kirby because he checks a lot of boxes the newer Phillies leadership team have gone for in the past. His stuff (Plus fastball, average change, average-ish Slider and Curve) looks very #3/4 starter, but his control/command is excellent and helps everything play up. It’s also possible that with the struggles of Leidbrandt and Eshelman the Phillies hold off with concerns his stuff might not fool hitters no matter how well he can locate them. His command is actually better than Eshelman’s and his fastball, at least, is also better. Honestly, as a pick at 14, I think you’d hope that you could focus on either curve or slider to get it more consistent. Both pitches flash plus, getting one of those more consistently above average to plus would make him far more likely to be a mid rotation starter. Video from Erik Carlson.

Nick Lodolo, LHP
Texas Christian University

Lodolo is near certain to be gone in the Top 10. This is a weird draft for Pitchers though and I think there’s 2 way it could go: A team decides they need to grab the best Pitcher in the draft and he goes higher than expected (top 5) or teams decide that there are so many good hitters and it’s a weak pitcher draft that he drops to 14 and possibly even further. The second option would be unprecedented in draft history for the first Pitcher selected to be outside the top 10, let alone 14, but teams are analyzing draftees in ways they weren’t even 10 years ago and given this draft’s reputation as the worst draft in history for pitching, it’s not hard to imagine a first happening this year. If he does drop to the Phillies, he’s a tall, lanky Lefty at 6’6” 180 lbs. He has more room to fill out, but he also was listed coming out of high school (he was drafted 41st overall by the Pirates) as 6’6”, 185lbs, so his listed weight has gone down by 5 pounds in 3 years. Don’t take it that literally, but I do take as very likely he hasn’t really gained any notable weight. It makes me a bit less optimistic about him doing a significant amount of filling out in the next 3 years on his way up an org ladder. He throws mostly an above average to plus fastball (the plus is a bit of projection, as it only touches plus velocity presently) and an inconsistent slurvy curveball that shows plus potential as well. He has thrown a changeup more early in his TCU career, but rarely threw it this year, so it will need a good bit of focus to develop, though it flashed plus his sophomore year. He does have above average control at least and an unusual amount of projectability for a College arm. I think there’s probably a #4 starter floor, but the ceiling is probably only a #3 starter. Video from Fangraphs.