It is almost that time of year again where the top young prospects in the nation make a major leap towards their goals of reaching the majors.
The Major League Baseball Draft takes place this year on July 17th during All-Star week in Los Angeles. This year’s draft will see the Orioles picking in the first slot followed by the Diamondbacks and the Rangers.
Picking in the middle of the pack once again, the Phillies sit perched at pick seventeen, one pick ahead of the Reds. The 2021 slot resulted in Andrew Painter becoming a Phillie at selection number thirteen.
This year’s draft is the first time the Fightins have picked at seventeen since 2002 when they selected a high school pitcher by the name of Cole Hamels.
So in what direction will Philadelphia go with this year's first round pick? Let’s take a look at a few options that seem to be frontrunners based on mock drafts and recent success.
Brandon Barriera, LHP, American Heritage HS
The previous two drafts saw Philadelphia select a pair of high school pitchers in the middle of the first-round. Brandon Barriera, a lengthy lefty from Florida, could make it three straight high school pitchers.
Barriera has strong grades with his fastball, slider, and changeup all being at a 55, the same grade for his command and overall. The 18 year-old’s fastball reportedly sits in the low 90s and has reached 96 at times throughout his young career.
The slider has become a strikeout pitch during his high school career as it hovers in the low 80s with good movement. According to mock drafts, Barriera has some of the best stuff in the entire draft, but there are concerns with how he will hold up as a starter.
Gabriel Hughes, RHP, Gonzaga
Another talented arm that is floating in the high-teens in mock drafts, Gabriel Hughes could be a target of the Phillies. With a sturdy frame at 6’4’’ and 220 pounds, Hughes has the prospects to be a major league starter.
Coming off the heels of a strong spring in which he switched from being a two-way player to only pitching, Hughes has shot up draft boards. With a fastball that is regularly in the mid 90s and off speed stuff that compliments it well, his mix is formidable enough to translate into big league success.
The Zag was named to the Collegiate Baseball All-American first team, which has helped him gain some media attention. Although his ceiling may not be as high as Barriera, Hughes has a stable floor.
Dylan Lesko, RHP, Buford
It is difficult to find a prospect with more upside than 18-year-old Dylan Lesko. A high school pitcher with a commitment to Vanderbilt, Lesko has significant risk attached to his name. After undergoing Tommy John surgery in April, the flamethrower dropped a bit on many draft boards. Originally a projected top five pick by many early mocks, Lesko could slide towards the Phillies selection. With a fastball that touches 97 mph paired with a changeup that falls off the plate, a team ahead of the Phillies could certainly take the risk. The question with Lesko is does the risk outweigh the reward? His ceiling may be higher than the two pitchers listed above, but his floor is certainly much lower.
Carson Whisenhunt, LHP, East Carolina
If the Phillies want to avoid choosing a high school arm in the first round for the third straight year, then this might be their guy. Carson Whisenhunt has the frame, mechanics, velo, and pitch mix to jump on the fast track to the bigs. The southpaw was suspended all of the 2022 spring season due to testing positive for a banned substance. His only real action was this summer for the Chatham Anglers of the Cape Cod Baseball League. Recent mock drafts have Whisenhunt going to the Phillies at seventeen, even after a rough summer. With Chatham, the lefty allowed fourteen runs in sixteen innings, but punched out 21. In a game against Hyannis, Carson saw his fastball rise up to 96 mph, and his breaking pitch as slow as 75. An MLB scout in attendance called the slurve-like bender a “game changer”.