Wonderkid – a young player who has elite potential and is already playing at a level way higher than you’d expect of someone their age.
Philadelphia sports is filled with bright talents, but just how exciting does the future look? I decided to rank the top-10 wonderkids playing in the City right now, but since all sports are being covered, I had to make a few rules.
- No more than 2 wonderkids per team
- No older than age-23 or less than 2-years experience since rookies in the NFL are way older than MLB for instance. It has to be fair.
And with that in mind, here are my top-10 wonderkids in Philadelphia sports.
10: Shake Milton
The resumption of the NBA season is exciting, but seeing the evolution of 6-10 guard Shake Milton is even more. In his short time in the league, we’ve watched him tie an NBA record for 13-straight 3-pointers, sinking 41.7% of his attempts from beyond the arc in total,
Milton was traded to the Sixers on draft night in 2018 being taken in the second round by the Dallas Mavericks. Since then, he’s ripped the G-League to shreds and has started to push through onto the bottom of the Sixers roster, exploding when given the opportunity to shine.
After Ben Simmons suffered a minor injury, Milton was called up to the plate and did not disappoint. In the final nine games of the season, he averaged 17.8 points, 4.1 assists, and shot 60.4% from beyond the arc.
At just 23-years-old, his unpredictable ceiling and freakishly athletic skillset make for the perfect project player to develop.
Milton is a fun player to watch and he’ll undoubtedly have eyes on him when the season resumes.
9: Mick Abel
I would’ve gone with Scott Kingery here, but at 26-years-old, he’s a little too old to be a wonderkid, even if he has only played in 2 seasons. This leads us to the team’s first-round selection this year – Mick Abel.
At 18-years-old, Abel drew comparisons to Stephen Strausburg and Max Scherzer on Draft day, which is absolutely something worth noting. At such a young age, he stands at 6’5, 270 lbs. With such a big frame, he packs a strong punch, with a fastball sitting in the 93-95 mph range.
We may not see Abel for a few years, but the upside here is absolutely huge for the Oregon State product if the Phillies coaching staff can harness his potential in the minors,
8: Mark McKenzie
After making his USMNT senior team debut in a 1-0 clean sheet victory against Costa Rica earlier this year, the 21-year-old center back sunk his teeth into the start of another promising campaign with the Union before the season was quickly halted. This didn’t stop scottish Giants Celtic reportedly revealing their interest when ‘MLS is Back’ kicked off just over a week ago.
McKenzie’s potential is sky-high and he inked a new long-term deal with the team back in January on the back of a pair of seasons where he played in 26 games, starting 24, playing a crucial role in helping the Union earn their first-ever playoff win last year.
Whether McKenzie will turn into an MLS all-star or be snapped up by a larger team overseas before he has the chance to do so, remains to be seen. However, the Union have a rock at the back with McKenzie in town, a player who grew through their academy and is now a pivotal cog in the defensive engine as the team tear through the group stage of MLS is back.
7: Alec Bohm
MLB’s No. 30 prospect this season could well see a huge chunk of action at third-base for the Phillies if he makes the bigs. The 23-year-old is coming off of a 2019 campaign with a .305/.378/.518 line along with 21 home runs and 80 RBI’s. Oh, and he hit .409 in the Grapefruit League this spring.
As far as prospects go, Bohm is the Phillies’ brightest as things stand. He was the third-overall pick in 2018 and his progression has meant fans are constantly refreshing his stats pages. This may be the year he takes the leap into MLB action and with a vacancy at third-base waiting for his name to be pencilled in, a potential breakout could well be on the horizon.
6: Matisse Thybulle
The Sixers’ first-round pick in 2019 didn’t take long to make a name for himself. After the team moved up four spots to get him, Thybulle burst onto the scene with defensive masterclass after defensive masterclass. The former Washington product already ranks towards the top of the entire NBA in both steals per 36 and total deflections per game. His rookie season prematurely ended with averages of 4.7PTS, 35.2 3P%, 1.4STL.
While he clogs lanes and picks off dribbles with ease, he’s also become a fairly reasonable threat from range, shooting 35.2% from beyond the arc. Spicy.
Thybulle is still only 23-years-old and will get his first taste of playoff action when the NBA tips-off in Orlando. There’s no doubting the team have a long-term defensive piece and if he can continue to evolve his offensive game, who knows how high the ceiling could be.