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Phillies 2016 Draft Preview

The MLB draft is coming up on June 9th, and the Phillies own the number 1 pick. There are many different directions in which the club could go with the number 1 pick. So far, the Phillies have been rumored to be taking an established college player that can reach the Major Leagues quicker (similar to Aaron Nola), but that doesn’t mean that a high school player is out of the question. While team sources have said that the Phillies are out on high school lefty Jason Groome and have narrowed down their options to just two players, in this article, however, what should be the Phillies’ top four choices for the number 1 pick will be looked at in depth, and a prediction will be made as to who I think the Phillies will draft.

A.J. PUK – LHP University of Florida

AJ Puk has been consistently thought of as a possible number 1 pick. Courtesy of Aaron Fitt - d1baseball.com

AJ Puk has been consistently thought of as a possible number 1 pick. Courtesy of Aaron Fitt – d1baseball.com

A.J. Puk has been a favorite in mock drafts as the number 1 pick. If you look at him, it makes a lot of sense that teams would be drawn to the junior. Standing 6 foot 7, and 230 pounds, he is a dominant presence on the mound, and a fastball that easily reaches the mid-90s helps as well. While the Florida Gators have lost his past 6 starts, Puk was relatively dominant in all except while visiting Tennessee. So far this year, he has a 2-3 record with a 2.88 era and 90 strikeouts in 65.2 innings pitched. The big statistic that may cause the Phillies not to pick him are the number of walks he has given up. In 3 starts this year, he has walked 4 or more batters, and in all of those starts, he failed to strike out more batters than he walked. While this problem can easily be fixed with a little bit of time in the minors, the Phillies may choose to move away from Puk if they want a pitcher who can contribute with very little time in the minors. The other issue for Puk is that in April of 2015, he was arrested and charged with a third-degree felony for criminal trespass. While it seems he has stayed out of trouble since, it will be a mark on his record, and the Phillies may not want to deal with the risk, no matter how small. Regardless of the issues, Puk is still an elite talent, who could be an ace in the Phillies’ rotation if he can find consistent control. The Phillies will be making a good move if they draft Puk first overall.

KYLE LEWIS – OF Mercer University

Kyle Mercer has experience not only in college, but in the Cape Cod League as well. Courtesy of Mercer University

Kyle Mercer has experience not only in college, but in the Cape Cod League as well. Courtesy of Mercer University

The outfielder out of Mercer is a more recent option with the number 1 pick. He began the 2015 season as a player who wouldn’t be picked in the first round in most mock drafts, but a solid summer in the Cape Cod League, and an even better 2016 season has vaulted Lewis to the top of everyone’s draft boards. Lewis is 6 foot 4 and weighs 195 pounds, which, for a junior, is an OK build. Whoever drafts him may ask him to gain a little weight in order to better fit his power hitting style, but even if he maintains his current body type, he could still be a solid major league player. The best thing that stands out about Kyle Lewis is the number of RBIs he has tallied this season. In 61 games to this point, he has 72 RBIs, which shows he can drive runners in when the situation occurs. Not only does he drive in runs, but he hits, and gets on base. In his 61 games to this point, Lewis is hitting .395 with a .535 on base percentage, which is helped by his Division 1 leading 66 walks on the year. While those are not the best numbers in college baseball, they certainly are pretty close, and they are by far the best numbers on the Mercer Bears. The biggest concern with Kyle Lewis is his lack of successful stolen bases during the season. He has been able to get 6 stolen bases to this point in the season, but he has been caught stealing 5 times. Since he is a power hitter, the team that drafts him will want him to make the most out of the bases he does attempt to steal, but if he floats around a 50% success rate with stolen bases, teams may keep him at first until he gets smarter or quicker on the bases. The issue with the Phillies drafting Lewis, is that they are already relatively deep with outfield prospects with Nick Williams, Dylan Cozens, Cornelius Randolph, Roman Quinn, Jose Pujols and Carlos Tocci, so maybe drafting another outfielder will not make the most sense. However, if the Phillies do draft Kyle Lewis, they will be getting an incredible talent who still has room to grow before reaching the Majors.

RILEY PINT – RHP St. Thomas Aquinas HS

Riley Pint has an elite fastball, if he is drafted number 1, can he develop secondary pitches? Courtesy David Banks - USA TODAY Sports

Riley Pint has an elite fastball, if he is drafted number 1, can he develop secondary pitches? Courtesy David Banks – USA TODAY Sports

Pint, an extremely hard throwing high school righty, is listed as either the number 4 or 5 draft prospect in most mock drafts, but some have him linked to the Phillies at number 1. While I doubt the Phillies will draft Pint, I think anything is possible at this point, and if you can find an 18-year-old with a 99 mph fastball and an 88 mph changeup, I think you have to consider them as a future star if they can put all the pieces together. Pint has a solid frame already for a big league pitcher, listed at 6 foot 5 and 195 pounds, so the transition to professional baseball may be minimal. I think that whoever drafts him will ask him to add about 20 pounds of weight before he gets a big league start, but that shouldn’t be a problem for him, especially if he takes his time working through the minors. As an 18-year-old, don’t expect Pint to contribute to any team immediately. If he is an absolute stud through the minors, I expect him to spend 3 years perfecting his craft before getting considered for a big league call up. If he is mediocre working his way up, it could take up to 5 years. If the Phillies do draft Riley Pint, I expect them to be incredibly careful with him, making sure that he is settled in at each level before giving him a promotion to the next level. Pint’s biggest downside is that he is currently only a 2 pitch pitcher. While his fastball and changeup are thought of as plus pitches for him, scouts say his curveball only works about half of the time he throws it, and he does not throw it very often. Scouts say that he will mainly throw his off speed in strikeout counts, and while that may work in high school, he needs to learn to trust all of his pitches before he gets a shot at the majors. Phillies would be taking a risk with picking a high schooler number 1 overall, but Pint might be the best option if they choose to go that direction.

MICKEY MONIAK – OF La Costa Canyon HS (California)

Mickey Moniak has impressed Phillies scouts throughout the scouting process. Courtesy of Eric Sorensen - d1baseball.com

Mickey Moniak has impressed Phillies scouts throughout the scouting process. Courtesy of Eric Sorensen – d1baseball.com

Moniak is relatively new to the top of the mock draft boards, but according to BaseballAmerica, the Phillies see something in the high school prospect. Widely regarded by scouts as a 5 tool player (contact, power, speed, glove, and arm), Moniak has impressed a few of the Phillies’ higher ranking scouts including Scouting Director Johnny Almaraz and Pat Gillick. According to maxpreps.com, Moniak is hitting .476 this year with 7 home runs and 46 RBIs. He also has 11 stolen bases in 29 games this season. The biggest concern for Moniak is his size, he is 6 foot 1, but is listed at only 175 pounds, and unless he is projected as a pure speedster at the next level, he will need to bulk up considerably. His swing is smooth enough to translate to the next level, but as with all high school hitters, it will be interesting to see if he is able to hit a more established off-speed pitch. Scouts mostly agree that they are uncertain about his power at the next level with the switch to wood bats, but if Moniak is able to bulk up and keep his other physical attributes, he should be successful. The final issue with Moniak is that he has been slotted in mock drafts anywhere between picks 1 and 10, and while it is clear the Phillies do like his talent, he could drop to around pick 8, which makes me wonder how other teams feel about his skill. If the Phillies are the only team that sees superstardom in his future, that is a little worrying, but if other teams are chomping at the bit to pick Moniak if the Phillies do not take him number 1 overall, he could be the real deal. Again, as an outfielder, the Phillies are already relatively deep at those positions, especially if you add Goeddel and Herrera to the mix, so it is unclear whether the Phillies will be taking Moniak first overall, but I believe that one he grows and matures both physically and mentally, he could be a very good big league player.

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

I believe that if the Phillies want to go with pitching talent, the clear choice is A.J. Puk. He could follow a similar path to Aaron Nola, working his way through the minors quickly before reaching the big leagues. We know he is established as a solid talent, and aside from the one legal issue, he seems to be a bright baseball mind, and if he helps lead the Gators deep into the College World Series, I think he is the consensus number 1 pick.

If the Phillies decide to go with an offensive player in the Draft, I would not mind Mickey Moniak, but I don’t believe that he is the right choice. Kyle Lewis has proven that he can hit extremely well at Mercer, and while he may not have the baserunning speed or skill that Moniak does, I think the Phillies should look for a player that can contribute sooner rather than later, and Lewis is that pick.

 

PREDICTION: While I would like the Phillies to take Kyle Lewis first overall, I believe that they will go for pitching and take A.J. Puk with their number 1 pick. This is not a bad move, as they will have someone either way who may be able to contribute rather quickly to the major league club.

Author: Elijah Tatgenhorst (Email: elijah.mysportingedge@gmail.com)

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