Well, here we are again, ladies and gents — we return to a time of year that, for many Phillie fans, brings up some less-than-pleasant memories.
And, this time, it’s a whole lot weirder.
However, 2020 is a brand new year, that comes with a brand new Scouting Director in ex-Yankee Brian Barber.
We’re also witnessing a brand new (and less optimal) draft format — five rounds in total, followed by a Free Agent free-for-all, with contract offers capped at $20,000.
So, let’s get right into it; who are the Phillies taking in the first round of the 2020 MLB Draft?
The Top Two:
The Phillies have two areas of immediate need within their farm system — premium pitching, and premium outfield.
Thus, it makes sense that the two big names they’ve been connected to are those of RHP Nick Bitsko and OF Garrett Mitchell.
Bitsko is a hard-throwing, (96-98 mph and climbing,) fastball spinning righty, with some top-tier stuff. He’s not particularly likely to sign this year, as he aims to be Top 5 draft stock come 2021 — but I’m sure he could be swayed by the right offer. By all accounts, Bitsko tracks to be a future ace — and, hey, he’s #fromhere.
Mitchell is a speedster out of UCLA who’s known for his contact-prone bat. His draft stock took a bit of a dive when he failed to improve his power numbers this past year, and was also diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes — but there’s no denying the kid’s raw potential. He’s easily capable of, eventually, hitting .300+, and stealing upwards of 20-30 bags per season. He has leadoff hitter written all over him.
IMPORTANT TO NOTE: As has been implied by multiple sources, the Phillies are not at all likely to draft a high school pitcher in the first round this year. This is not to say that they absolutely won’t be taking Nick Bitsko... but the consensus is that Mitchell is much more likely.
If the Phillies do take a pitcher in the first round, it is MUCH more likely to be a college arm — like RHP Cade Cavalli, or LHP Garrett Crochet.
The Phils have been linked to Oklahoma’s Cade Cavalli multiple times, a big-bodied righty that sits mid-90’s on his fastball. He also boasts a very good slider and middling changeup, and projects to be a solid #2-3 starter.
Tennessee’s Garrett Crochet has injury issues, but tosses some serious velocity (95-99) from the left side — which is a major weapon. His fastball/slider combination is lethal, but he hardly has a changeup, thus connecting him more to a Josh Hader type. That said, he is not to be underestimated. There is serious talent here.
Other college arms the Phillies have been linked to: RHP Tanner Burns (Auburn), Bryce Jarvis (Duke), JT Ginn* (Mississippi State), Cole Wilcox (Georgia).
High School Bats:
Outside of Nick Bitsko, the Phillies have been linked to a few other high schoolers, both outfielders and position players.
Ed Howard is one, who was most recently connected to the Phillies via Keith Law’s final Mock Draft. He’s another contact-prone bat with excellent defensive qualities at shortstop, but there isn’t a great deal of pop there, and his speed is only slightly above average.
Tyler Sodorstrom is another — and he’s quite interesting. He carries a major bat, boasting above average power, and a really solid feel for meaningful contact. That said, he’s a bit of a defensive question mark. While he is certainly athletic enough to pick up the catcher position with time, many see him more as a corner OF/3B type. Either way, his offensive ability is not to be overlooked.
Finally, there’s OFs Pete Crow-Armstrong, and Austin Hendrick, both of which have been connected to the Phillies here and there.
Crow-Armstrong is a lefty bat with plus, if not plus-plus, centerfield defense. He’s got a solid feel for spray-based contact, but there’s very little power there.
It’s important to mention that most — if not all — of these high schoolers are a major risk, as the Coronavirus robbed them of an extra year to prove themselves.
But, high risk reaps high reward... right?
The ‘What Ifs...’:
As is the case with any major sports draft, it’s impossible to predict the exact outcome, and thus, certain players may fall below where they’ve been predicted to land.
Last year, Bryson Stott, the Phillies’ first round draft pick, was slated to go in the 7-10 range, but, instead, fell to the Phillies at 14 — and they scooped him right up.
In the Phillies’ case, the players that might just make it this year are, in particular, Reid Detmers, Heston Kjerstad, and Mick Abel.
Reid Detmers is, for me, the dream situation. A 20 year-old Louisville product, Detmers is a LHP with a very good mid-90’s fastball, a dominating slurve, and a decent circle change. He’s been a high-profile prospect since his high school days, and works his butt of day in and day out. An all around excellent player.
Heston Kjerstad has been pronounced by some to be the, “best left-handed hitter in the country.” He boasts solid contact tools, alongside plus power and a good batters’ eye — and there’s a ton of room for growth. He’s an all around solid bat right now, but has the potential to develop into something much, much more than that.
Mick Abel is another high school pitcher with major potential. He sits 92-95 on his fastball, but can touch 97 at times. He also happens to boast an advanced secondary arsenal, including a killer slider and a 12-6 curve. He does struggle with command issues, but is expected to sharpen those up as he grows into his 6’5” frame. Overall, he would be a risky pick — but what high schooler isn't?
Wrap it up:
That’ll do it for our day one primer — but we’ll be providing Draft Coverage all week long, so make sure to check back for updates from your favorite TGP creators!