The 2014 draft is over and the signings begin. The Phillies selected only one high school player in the first 28 rounds of the draft. In fact, 23 of the first 27 names the Phillies took are 21-years-old or older. The big differences from last year’s draft were they selected seventh rather than 16th each round and drafted college pitchers in the early rounds rather than high school position players.
Last year to start the Gulf Coast League we watched the likes of first round pick J.P. Crawford at short, third round pick Cord Sandburg in the the outfield and fourth round pick Jan Hernandez at third. All high school age players who performed well and Crawford moved up to Lakewood by the end of the season. The catcher was seventeen year-old international free agent Deivy Grullon who stood out. Right fielder international free agent Jose Pujols provided occasional pop but struggled defensively.
Last year the Phillies signed 29 players out of the draft, 12 were position players including only five high school players. Seventeen were pitchers and only two of them were out of high school. Four of the 29 2013 draft class who signed have already been released.
It will be interesting to see what the make-up of the GCL team will look like. The season will not begin until June 20th. With the older more experienced players who have been drafted high in the draft, the question is where will they go and how soon will they play?Chief Scout, Marti Wolever has already indicated that first round pick, 21 year-old Aaron Nola, will likely wind up with the High A Clearwater Threshers in the Florida State League.
I would expect the second round college pitcher, Matt Imhof, getting some starts at the GCL level along with fourth round college pick Chris Oliver who should get an inning or two at a time out of the GCL pen since he has a power arm. Third round pick Aaron Brown who appears to be slated as center fielder looks like GCL material.
The GCL squad that was on the field for the final extended spring game on Thursday had Venn Biter in left, Jake Sweaney in center, Freddy Zorrilla and Bryan Martelo alternating in right. Carlos Duran has been rehabbing a hand injury. Gustavo Martinez has not played all spring but is alway around the Complex.. Zorrilla was the most impressive outfielder both with his arm and bat.
The infield saw William Cuicas at third, Grenny Cumana at short, Hugo Arrocha at second and Luis Encarnacion at first. Cuicas is a good utility guy. Cumana has done it all with the bat and shows an improving glove at short while they appear to have moved Encarnacion from third to first base for defensive reasons.
The two catchers have been Gregori Rivero and Wilber Torres. They have been catching starters Lewis Alezones, Seranthony Dominguez, Alexis Rivero, Gregorio Santos and David Whitehead. Alezones was the most impressive with his ability to change speeds in the one start I was able to watch him. Relievers have been Franklyn Kilome, Francibel Alejo, Angel Megia, Jorge Serrano and Frank Rivas.
As the Phillies sign their many draft picks, they will be worked into pitching and position roles. I would expect big right handed power hitting Rhys Hoskins, a college pick in the 5th round as a first baseman, to get a good look at moving up higher than GCL. It appears he will have to battle Encarnacion with the GCL or the hot Trey Williams in Williamsport for playing time at first unless he moves all the way to Lakewood. He may start out as a DH in addition to playing the infield and outfield corners. Cameron Perkins started out in this kind of role in the GCL before moving up quickly to Williamsport after he was a 6th round college pick drafted in 2012.
Monday is expected to see a simulate game at the Complex take place with the Williamsport team headed out on Tuesday for the start of the NY-Penn League opener on Friday. It’s the start of a new baseball season for the half-season leagues and thankfully for the A level teams. Especially for the struggling Threshers since the first half of the Florida State League is coming to an end and the standings start all over for the final 70 games as they will do for the Lakewood BlueClaws in the South Atlantic League.