The MLB amateur draft is quickly approaching. Most, however, don’t know when the picks are made each year since the Draft itself is far less publicized than its counterparts of the other three major sports. But while the MLB Draft is far from the romanticized, gawked over process that the NFL and NBA Drafts have become, it is still an important time for organizations, especially those that have struggled over the past 365 days, as teams build for the future, plucking stars from the college and high school ranks.
That last statement may be what makes the MLB Draft stand out from the rest. Despite little glitz and glamour, the league does offer something no other league, including the NBA since 2005, with a few exceptions, including this year’s draftee Anfernee Simmons, can. And that, is the ability to pick players directly out of high school. In years past, the Phillies have selected high schoolers with early first round picks, including Mickey Moniak in 2016 and Cornelius Randolph in 2015.
but in 2017, the Phillies bucked the trend of selected 18-year-olds in the first round, and instead, opted to select Adam Haseley out of the University of Virginia. I expect this trend to continue in 2018, as the Phillies hold claim to the third overall pick. Not only do I expect the Phillies to select a collegiate player, but I also believe this will be the last year in the foreseeable future that the Phillies draft within the first five picks. While the Tigers and the Giants will ultimately decide the fate of the Phillies’ pick at three, Philadelphia will essentially have the pick of the lot of a group of athletes in which there is no true number one star. Casey Mize from the Auburn Tigers is the consensus number one pick, but he doesn’t live up the hype of a Stephen Strasburg.
While they’re aren’t immediate superstars this year, here are three names you could see the Phillies call next week.
1. RHP Brady Singer, University of Florida
A final weekend hamstring tweak does nothing to the draft stock of the 2018 SEC Conference Pitcher of the Year and Baseball America’s National Player of the Year. Singer won ten games and posted a 2.25 ERA for the Gators this season, both topping the conference. He limited baserunners as well, allowing opposing batters to hit just .186 against him. Singer is a 6’5″ junior who has put together a nice collegiate career in one of, if not the toughest conferences in all of baseball. He tossed 126 innings last season, so longevity should not be a concern. His innings are slightly down this season, at just 88 thus far, but he still has regionals, and perhaps more, to add to that total. He’s struckout 92 and walked just 18 hitters over those 88 innings.
Singer clocks in in the mid-90’s, and his fastball is clearly his best pitch. He features a slider, as well as a changeup, but Singer uses his fastball moreso than any other pitch. The reason Singer is this high on many draft board, beside the obvious intangibles and skills, is his MLB readiness. Singer would likely take a similar track to the big leagues as Aaron Nola, providing near immediate rotational help after being drafted. while I’d certainly like to see him either develop his changeup further, or work on another secondary pitch, the immediate impact for a team that is close to competing is evident.
2. 3B Alec Bohm, Wichita State
If the Phillies are looking for a true power bat to add to their lineup, Bohm could be the guy. The three year starter has 16 homeruns and has driven in 55 total runs this season in 57 games. He’s hitting .339, as his approach at the plate has drastically improved, and with it, his walk totals have increased. In 224 at bats, Bohm has 76 hits and an additional 39 walks. Pair that with just 28 strikeouts and you’ve got yourself a productive, and much improved, hitter.
What concerns me about Bohm is his defensive presence. The Phillies currently have a third baseman, maybe you’ve heard of him, who has been fantastic at times with the glove. I don’t Bohm is there, nor will he ever be there. But he’s been much more serviceable this season for the Shockers than the previous two. It wouldn’t surprise me to see the team attempt to convert him to first base, which could create a logjam at the position. If they do select Bohm, and attempt the transition, it’ll be a clear indication that Rhys Hoskins is an outfielder.
Bohm is the kind of hitters who would thrive in the American League, which is why the Phillies may not take the shot on him at three, but his power is certainly worthy of the third overall pick. Unlike Singer, Bohm would not be that draft-to-big leagues type player. He’d likely have to retool a bit in the minor leagues. Whereas Singer would likely be ready to pitch in the Major Leagues by mid-2019, Bohm wouldn’t make his first appearance until September, 2020, at the earliest. This pick could come between Bohm and infielder Nick Madrigal, from Oregon State, but power is mesmerizing, and Bohm sure has it.
3. 2B Nick Madrigal, Oregon State
The aforementioned Madrigal is the final potential player the Phillies could select at three this upcoming week. He’s small, just 5’7″, but boy, can he hit. This season with the Beavers, Madrigal His season has been cut short this year due to a broken wrist, but in the 27 games he played, Madrigal did nothing but rake. He hit .438 and driven in 27 runs. In fact, that has been the trend in his time on campus. He’s improved from .333, to .380, to his current .438. In 135 collegiate games, he’s struckout just 34 times.
Madrigal is drawing immediate comparison to a young second baseman in the NL East: Ozzie Albies. Those are becoming more and more lofty comparisons as the season progresses, but they may be fair ones. Madrigal can run and swipe bases, and he can also play second with the best of them. This selection would likely mean that the Phillies would be moving on from Cesar Hernandez at some point, but the upside could be there. The upgrade would be a professional hitter with a better average and equal, if not greater, defensive prowess. We know that Madrigal is small, but so is the best second baseman in baseball right now, Jose Altuve, and he’s done nothing but win an MVP and four consecutive Silver Slugger Awards. Now those would be lofty expectations.
Madrigal would have a quicker rise to the Major Leagues should things go according to plan. His swing needs less tinkering than Bohm’s. While he’ll never have Bohm’s power, a perennial .300 hitter could be in the making with Madrigal.
Mandatory Credit: Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports