After watching the Clearwater Threshers and the rest of the Phillies minor league system this season, its apparent that more talent than is currently in the organizations is needed to turn this franchise around. This is why Thursday’s amateur draft is so important.
Because of the success of the Phillies up until last season, I have not closely followed recent amateur drafts. This year is different and I will be watching with great anticipation Thursday night to see which players they pick. The Phillies need help just at about at every position except shortstop where last year’s No. 1 pick J. P. Crawford looks like a lock to be the team’s shortstop of the future.
Most great baseball minds say draft the best player available no matter what position he may play. I say draft the best pitcher available. The Phillies need to start rebuilding now and a team rebuilds around pitching.
With 7th pick in the draft the Phils are drafting higher than at any time since 2001 when they picked pitcher Gavin Floyd with the fourth overall pick. They drafted Crawford with the 16th overall pick last year and he has put up good numbers at Lakewood this season and looks to move up quickly in the organization.
Because the Phillies needs are so great, reports have indicated they will look to more college-type players in this year’s draft rather than toolsy high school kids. The older college guys can move up quickly to help the big team sooner than later. Crawford is only 19 years-old but is likely two or three years away from the major leagues.
To rebuild this team, you have to start with pitching. Baseball America is slotting LSU’s ace Aaron Nola as the seventh overall pick and going to the Phillies. He turns 21 years-old tomorrow and hopefully will be the Phillies number one pick on Thursday. If you read the scouting reports it sounds like he could go pitch in the Phillies starting rotation right now. Here is how one scouting report on him from the SEC tournament read from Baseball America on May 23rd:
“Scouts behind home plate said they saw exactly what they always see from Nola. He ran his fastball up to 95-96 mph in the first, settled in at 92-94 and held that velocity all the way through the eighth inning. He threw his 79-81 mph slider for strikes, and the pitch was particularly effective when he threw it on the inside corner against righthanded hitters, because his low slot, extension and the depth of the pitch make it look like it’s coming right at them, before crossing the plate. And he mixed in his 83-84 mph changeup effectively, often for groundball outs against lefties. As usual his command of his entire repertoire was pinpoint after that first inning.”
Baseball America’s Mock Draft 4.0 of June 1st says the following about the Phillies chances with the seventh pick:
PHILLIES: “It is hard to imagine LSU right-hander Aaron Nola, with a plus fastball, plus control, and two average secondary pitches (with a potential plus change-up), lasting much longer after than this pick, even though he appears to be at best the second or third choice for the first six teams that pick. Projected Pick: RHP Aaron Nola.”
So on Thursday night get your draft party started, the popcorn ready and sit back. Hopefully sometime after 7:00 p.m. the Phillies will have drafted a potential top of the rotation starting pitcher named Aaron Nola. Along with J.P. Crawford at short and Nola on the mound we can then project two pieces already in place to start rebuilding of this team.