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Bohm pick sets tone for college-heavy Draft

Phillies looking for players who can advance through system quickly
Special to MLB.com

When the Phillies selected Wichita State third baseman Alec Bohm with the third overall pick in the 2018 MLB Draft on Monday night, the 21-year-old admitted that certain qualities made the 2018 Phillies one of his favorite teams. They're young. They're winning earlier than expected after a rebuild.

Draft Tracker: Follow every Phillies Draft pick

When the Phillies selected Wichita State third baseman Alec Bohm with the third overall pick in the 2018 MLB Draft on Monday night, the 21-year-old admitted that certain qualities made the 2018 Phillies one of his favorite teams. They're young. They're winning earlier than expected after a rebuild.

Draft Tracker: Follow every Phillies Draft pick

Those same qualities are why the Phillies entered the Draft looking for players like Bohm. With a Major League roster filled with recent graduates of the Minors, such as Scott Kingery and Jorge Alfaro, the Phillies needed to replenish the farm. Bohm, along with several other college position players taken in the 40-round Draft that concluded Wednesday, could do just that and rise through the ranks at an accelerated pace.

:: 2018 Draft coverage ::

In total, the Phillies selected 38 players throughout the 40-round Draft, sitting out the second and third rounds after forfeiting those picks by signing Carlos Santana and Jake Arrieta. Of the 18 position players chosen, 14 were college players and four hailed from the high school ranks. Fourth-round pick Colton Eastman out of Cal State Fullerton highlights a group of 13 college pitchers, while Gabriel Cotto and Dominic Pipkin stand out among a crop of seven high school hurlers.

Phillies director of amateur scouting Johnny Almaraz said he was happy with the balance the organization acquired through the draft.

"It's very rewarding," Almaraz said. "I attribute that to the job that all the supervisors and national coordinators and everyone in the room that helped coordinate the entire Draft and helped keep us on task on what we're trying to do and make sure that we're getting the right guy for us every round."

Bohm, of course, headlines the Phillies' newcomers. He slashed .339/.436/.526 with 31 extra-base hits, 55 RBIs, 39 walks and 28 strikeouts as a junior for the Shockers. It's not naive to imagine him playing regularly at Citizens Bank Park sooner rather than later. He is more experienced than recent picks Cornelius Randolph and Mickey Moniak were when they entered the organization out of high school. Randolph and Moniak, the Phillies' first-round picks from 2015 and 2016, respectively, have yet to excel in the Minors.

Besides Bohm, the Phillies drafted several collegiate position players who can add depth in the wake of the recent transition of many top position prospects to the Majors. Notre Dame outfielder Matt Vierling, Coastal Carolina infielder Seth Lancaster, Nebraska catcher Jesse Wilkening and Oklahoma State infielder Matt Kroon, among others, fit that description. All of these players had the best seasons of their collegiate careers this past spring.

Video: Almaraz talks Phillies selecting Bohm in 2018 Draft

Vierling, a three-year starter at Notre Dame selected in the fifth round, is a career .296 hitter whose pitching experience gives him a strong arm in the outfield. He was the first player Phillies amateur scouting director Johnny Almaraz mentioned when reviewing the Phillies' Day 2 picks. Although Vierling's summer-league stats using a wooden bat don't pop as much, the Phillies believe Vierling can move through the Minors quickly.

Video: Draft 2018: Bohm on being 3rd overall pick

Lancaster, the Phillies' eighth-round pick, was the only collegiate player this season to rank in the top 10 in walks, home runs and runs scored. Wilkening, taken in the 14th round, led the Cornhuskers with 56 RBIs and a .372 average. Almaraz, though, loved Wilkening's defense.

"He's a really advanced defensive catcher," Almaraz said. "He's someone who can really catch and receive. He has an above-average arm and has the chance to be a really good Major League player one day."

The Phillies took Kroon out of Central Arizona junior college in the 30th round of last year's draft, but he elected to play at Oklahoma State. After hitting .300 in the No. 3 hole for the Cowboys, he was named the Big 12's Newcomer of the Year. The Phillies hadn't changed their mind about Croon and took another shot at him in the 18th round Wednesday.

"He's a big, physical kid," Almaraz said. "He's a good defensive player. He's athletic. He can play second, he can play short, he can play third, he can play the outfield. We like his versatility and his power."

Video: Draft 2018: Phillies draft RHP Colton Eastman No. 107

The Phillies used their penultimate pick on Mat Nelson, a catcher out of Calvary Christian HS in Florida. The late Roy Halladay, whose son Braden also plays for CCA, coached Nelson. Because Nelson is committed to Florida State, the pick appeared to be more of a ceremonious choice, a common move late in the Draft. Almaraz didn't see it that way. Nelson, Almaraz said, is a Major League prospect.

After many months of scouting and three days of drafting, Almaraz and his team were still deploying their strategy at pick No. 1,187.

"You have to go out and keep drafting because you never know what's going to happen in front of you as far as the picks are concerned," Almaraz said. "If we want to get somebody signed, then maybe we think this is an option for us."

Joe Bloss is a reporter for MLB.com based in Philadelphia.

Philadelphia Phillies