Since winning the National League East for the fifth straight season in 2011, the Phillies haven't finished above .500, and they topped the Majors with 99 losses last year. One of the main reasons they've fallen on hard times is a poor record in the Draft.From 2005-12, Philadelphia signed just
Since winning the National League East for the fifth straight season in 2011, the Phillies haven't finished above .500, and they topped the Majors with 99 losses last year. One of the main reasons they've fallen on hard times is a poor record in the Draft.
From 2005-12, Philadelphia signed just three players who presently are significant big leaguers: Travis d'Arnaud (supplemental first round, 2007), Jake Diekman (30th, 2007) and Ken Giles (seventh, 2011). The Phillies have had more success in recent years, with 2013 first-rounder J.P. Crawford ranking as one of the best prospects in baseball and 2014 first-rounder Aaron Nola quickly establishing himself as the big league club's best starter, but they'll need to find a lot more talent to make their rebuilding effort a success.
:: Complete 2016 Draft coverage ::
Philadelphia took a big step in that direction in the past three days. Though we realize that it will be years before we know what these players truly will become, no team made a better first impression in the 2016 Draft.
Here are the five clubs who hauled in the most talent, factoring in expected signability:
Philadelphia spent the No. 1 overall pick on California high schooler Mickey Moniak, a gamer with plus hitting ability, speed and defensive chops, and it got more huge upside from the California prep ranks in right-hander Kevin Gowdy in the second round. The Phillies scored on Day Two with sweet-swinging Nebraska prep third baseman Cole Stobbe (third round), a pair of lefty starters in Yavapai (Ariz.) J.C.'s Jo Jo Romero (fourth) and Oregon's Cole Irvin (fifth), plus athletic Dallas Baptist outfielder David Martinelli (sixth). They began Day Three with another sweet-swinging California high school outfielder, Josh Stephen, and they have the bonus pool ($13,405,200) to sign him.
One of two clubs with three first-round selections, the Cards used their first (No. 23 overall) on Puerto Rican shortstop Delvin Perez, who was poised to be a Top 10 pick before he tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs. If he can put that behind him and his talent was for real, he'll be a steal. So could Mississippi State right-hander Dakota Hudson (first round, No. 34), who had one of the best fastball/slider combinations available, and Mississippi high school first baseman Walker Robbins (fifth), one of the more advanced prep hitters in the Draft. The other first-rounder (No. 33) was a surprise, but California high school outfielder Dylan Carlson is a switch-hitter with a good swing from both sides of the plate and developing power potential. Virginia's Connor Jones (second) and North Carolina's Zac Gallen (third) are college righties with long track records of success, and Wichita State righty Sam Tewes (eighth) has better stuff than either of them, but he must bounce back from Tommy John surgery in March. Southern California's Jeremy Martinez (fourth) and North Carolina State's Andrew Knizner (seventh) have higher offensive ceilings than most catchers.
This year's Draft crop was deep in high school pitching and thin everywhere else, and Atlanta picked accordingly. The Braves landed three of the eight best prep arms available with their first three selections: New York right-hander Ian Anderson (first round, No. 3), Kansas lefty Joey Wentz (supplemental first) and Texas southpaw Kyle Muller (second). Those three will eat up the bulk of the club's $13,224,100 bonus pool, but they should be worth it. Atlanta also grabbed slugging California catcher Brett Cumberland (supplemental second), Louisville finesse left-hander Drew Harrington (third) and live-arm North Carolina high school righty Bryse Wilson (fourth) before seeking discounts in Rounds 6-10.
Cincinnati really cleaned up on Thursday night, getting the best college hitter (Tennessee third baseman Nick Senzel, first round, No. 2), one of the best high school athletes (Georgia outfielder Taylor Trammell, supplemental first) and the best all-around college catcher (Clemson's Chris Okey, second). The Reds balanced those bats with several live arms afterward in Minnesota prep right-hander Nick Hanson (third), Florida lefty Scott Moss (fourth), Texas A&M right-hander Ryan Hendrix (fifth) and New Jersey high school righty Tyler Mondile (sixth). They got two more on Saturday with college righties Joel Kuhnel (Texas-Arlington, 11th) and Mitchell Traver (Texas Christian, 17th), both of whom can reach the mid-90s but have health concerns.
The other club with three first-rounders, San Diego had a very interesting and deep Draft. The Padres used their first choice on Day One on Stanford right-hander Cal Quantrill (first round, No. 8), who hasn't pitched since having Tommy John surgery last spring, and their first on Day Two on Texas high school righty Mason Thompson (third), who pitched one inning this year after coming back from an elbow reconstruction of his own. Both have front-line starter upside but present significant risk as well, and Thompson will command a well-above-pick-value bonus.
San Diego spent its other two first-round picks on Texas high school infielder Hudson Sanchez (No. 24), a quality hitter who projected more as a third-rounder, and Kent State left-hander Eric Lauer (No. 25), whose polish helped him top NCAA Division I with a 0.69 ERA and will get him to Petco Park in a hurry. The Padres were one of two clubs -- the Brewers were the other -- that grabbed 10 of MLBPipeline.com's Top 200 Prospects, also adding Florida outfielder Buddy Reed (second), California high school right-hander Reggie Lawson (supplemental second), Wisconsin-Whitewater righty Lake Bachar (third), Texas A&M third baseman Boomer White (10th), Tennessee prep outfielder Tre Carter (11th) and Louisiana State lefty Jared Poche (14th). Southeast Missouri State southpaw Joey Lucchesi (fourth) didn't make the Top 200, but he was one of the better seniors available and tops NCAA D-I with 149 strikeouts in 111 innings.
All five of the best Drafts belong to clubs with a top-three selection or a couple of extra picks before the second round, so let's spotlight a team that did well without either advantage:
Honorable mention: Indians
After getting athletic Georgia high school outfielder Will Benson in the first round (No. 14), Cleveland got three more talented prep position players far lower than they deserved to go: Pennsylvania third baseman Nolan Jones (second round), Texas outfielder Conner Capel (fifth) and Texas third baseman Ulysses Cantu (sixth). Oregon State catcher Logan Ice (supplemental second) hits well from both sides of the plate and is more athletic than most backstops. Right-handers Aaron Civale (Northeastern, third round) and Shane Bieber (UC Santa Barbara, fourth) pound the strike zone.
*Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.*