Phils draft 17-year-old in 3rd-round steal

July 14th, 2021

PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies got multiple text messages from teams on Monday about their third-round pick in the 2021 MLB Draft: Jordan Viars.

You just stole our guy.

He was our favorite high school hitter.

Philadelphia selected Viars (a 6-foot-4, 215-pound outfielder) out of Rick Reedy High School in Frisco, Texas, with the 84th overall pick. He batted .464 with eight home runs, 26 RBIs and a 1.626 OPS in 34 games, earning an All-Star nod from the North Texas High School Baseball Coaches Association. Viars did not appear on’s Top 250 prospects list entering the Draft, but Phillies amateur scouting director Brian Barber said Tuesday that Viars was well known within the industry.

“I wouldn’t say I was a sleeper because, obviously, I wasn’t,” Viars said Tuesday night in a telephone interview. “Maybe to the general public, because I never did the big events. I never did the showcases. I was never invited to most of them. But I played with a bunch of older dudes. I did that instead of playing with kids my grade and going to all the events and showcases.

“No matter what, you will be seen. I think that’s the big part of the story.”

Viars turns 18 on Sunday, making him the 14th-youngest player in the 2021 Draft class.

“I don’t know how people are younger than me,” he said. “I don’t know how.”

Viars could spend his birthday in Clearwater, Fla. The Phillies and Viars already agreed to terms on a contract. (His pick is slotted for a $721,900 signing bonus.) He is scheduled to fly to Philadelphia on Wednesday and take his physical and sign his contract by Friday. If everything goes well, he will be in Clearwater for workouts on Monday.

What do his parents think about him beginning his pro career just after his 18th birthday? It must be wild for them.

“It’s wild for me,” he said.

Viars previously committed to play college baseball at Arkansas, but he always wanted to turn pro. He credits others for convincing him to take that step. Ryan Bonesio is one of Viars’ coaches. Bonesio played a few years of pro ball. He coached players like Hudson Potts (Padres’ first-round pick in 2016) and Heston Kjerstad (Orioles’ first-round pick in 2020). He knows talent, and he advised Viars that not every player goes to college and improves his draft position and signing bonus.

In other words, being a third-round pick is nothing to sneeze at.

“It was definitely going to be the smartest decision for me to get started,” Viars said. “If baseball doesn’t work out in five years, I’m very well set up. That’s what it’s about. Pro ball is great and it’s such a blessing to get an opportunity to play. It’s life after baseball. It’s what you do with the people who are around you that truly matters. I don’t want to be known as just a baseball player. I want to be known as a dude who’s just a great influence on everyone.”

But Viars wants to be a great player, too. He loves Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman and he sees similarities, besides size and the fact they both hit left-handed. (Barber said Viars could see time at first base, too.)

“Truly, the way he approaches the game,” Viars said. “He uses all parts of the field. He’s not a very showboat-y type of guy, but he still shows a ton of energy. I’m not going to be Fernando Tatis Jr., Juan Soto -- a ball of energy. I’m going to be the guy that’s solid, rock-steady. Or at least I plan to be that guy. It’s a crazy sport, you never know.”

Viars flew with his father, Billy, for a workout last week at Citizens Bank Park. They booked a room at Live! Casino and Hotel just around the corner because they wanted to stay close to the field.

Of course, because Viars is 17, he could not walk through the casino floor or eat there.

So, the morning of the workout, he and his father took a cab to a nearby convenience store to get breakfast. He grabbed a protein bar, Gatorades and water.

“It was just a cool experience to walk onto the field and hit on that huge big league field,” Viars said. “I didn’t even think they were that big. I didn’t realize how big big league fields were, at least in the alleys. Wow. People run down balls here? Oh, my gosh.”

If Viars hits, he will be back. The Phillies believe he will.

“We think he’s going to be the complete hitting package,” Barber said.

Other teams did, too. Just check the texts.