PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies are betting big again on another hard-throwing high school right-hander.
Philadelphia selected Calvary Christian Academy (Fla.) right-hander Andrew Painter on Sunday night with the 13th overall pick in the 2021 Draft. Painter follows last summer’s selection of Jesuit High School right-hander Mick Abel with the 15th overall pick.
It is easy to imagine Painter and Abel rising through Philadelphia's farm system together and one day anchoring the rotation.
“That was brought up,” Phillies amateur scouting director Brian Barber said. “But it's also not why we necessarily took Andrew, either. There are two separate conversations to be had there. We evaluated Andrew onto himself. And then as you start talking about the excitement and upside of getting Mick last year, and then the opportunity to add Andrew to that, and those guys rise up through the Minor Leagues together and hopefully one day front your rotation in Philadelphia, yeah, that that gets us excited.”
The Phillies had not selected high school pitchers in the first round in consecutive drafts since Gavin Floyd and Cole Hamels in 2001-2002.
Floyd and Hamels were linked from the moment the Phillies selected Hamels at No. 17 in 2002. They were regarded as the Phillies’ greatest hope -- along with 1999 first-round pick Brett Myers -- to build a strong rotation and get the franchise back to the postseason. Hamels eventually did, winning the 2008 World Series and NLCS MVP Awards. He has a 58.1 WAR over 15 seasons. Floyd got traded to the White Sox in 2006 for Freddy Garcia and finished his career with a 16.4 WAR over 13 seasons.
The Phillies will be happy if Painter and Abel are the next Hamels and Floyd. They will also be thrilled if they get two versions of Hamels.
“I definitely think it’s cool because I think we came from pretty similar scenarios,” Painter said. “Maybe he can work as a mentor because he’s been through the same thing that I’m about to go through. So, I think that’ll be really helpful.”
Painter established himself as one of the top prep pitchers in the country because of his combination of size, stuff and feel for pitching. He is 6-foot-7 and 215 pounds with a fastball that sits in the 94-96 mph range and touches 97 mph. He throws a four-seam fastball, sinker, curveball, slider and changeup. He went 6-1 with a 0.31 ERA and 91 strikeouts in 45 1/3 innings as a senior, earning Florida’s Gatorade Player of the Year Award.
The Phillies scouted every single one of Painter’s starts since last summer.
“He’s a large human being,” Barber said. “And you notice that immediately. You start digging into some of the baseball attributes that he has and the delivery has an excellent starting point, the arm action works really well. And then he just has really good stuff. The first very first times that we saw him last summer, he was up to 97 mph. He has a curveball and slider that both project to plus [pitches], and a changeup that he has really good feel for as an 18 year old. And, really above that, sort of the icing on the cake for us is it was a guy that at 17 years old has feel for pitching and the ability to throw strikes, and it was really just a complete package for us from Day 1.”
Everybody knows it takes more than stuff to make the big leagues. It takes a mentality, too -- especially in Philadelphia. The Phillies think they got good scouting reports on Painter, who played high school baseball with Phillies manager Joe Girardi’s son, Dante.
Painter said Girardi would show up before practices and rake the field at school.
“This is a kid that desires to be great,” Barber said. “He gets after it. When we start talking about attributes of potential big leaguers, one of our main tenets is makeup. So, we've done a deep dive there. He was one of the first kids I did a Zoom call with starting back last November or December. And we've just got to know Andrew better since then. And we also had in our back pocket the fact that Joe Girardi’s known known him since he was 15 years old.”
Some of the most notable players selected with the 13th overall pick include Trevor Rogers (2017), Trea Turner (2014), Brandon Nimmo (2011), Chris Sale (2010), Aaron Hill (2003), Paul Konerko (1994), Manny Ramirez (1991), Gary Templeton (1974), Frank Tanana (1971) and Gary Nolan (1966).
This is the fourth time the Phillies had the 13th pick. They previously selected Henry Powell (1980), John Russell (1982) and Chad McConnell (1992). Only Russell made the big leagues.