Phillies need an impact player in Draft
With big league club getting older, team must add future stars
PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies have less than two months to get on a roll or the front office could make significant changes to the club's 25-man roster.
It could go young.
If that happens, it would be nice if they had a can't-miss prospect champing at the bit in Triple-A, like Chase Utley in 2003, Ryan Howard in '05 or Cole Hamels in '06, but they do not. They have players they like, players who eventually could prove to be talented everyday players in the big leagues, but nobody at the moment can allow Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. to say, "He absolutely should be playing in the big leagues right now."
The Phillies have talent in their system, but they need more as the core from the 2008 World Series championship gets older. It is Marti Wolever's job to find that talent. He is the team's assistant general manager of amateur scouting. Since 2001, he has run the Drafts that acquired Howard, Hamels, Kyle Kendrick, Domonic Brown, Mike Stutes and others, plus the talent that helped them acquire Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt, Hunter Pence and Brad Lidge in trades.
But the Phillies have had some notable misses in recent Drafts, top 10 picks no longer in the organization or simply no longer considered prospects, including outfielders Anthony Hewitt and Zach Collier, whom the team selected with first-round picks in 2008. The Phillies pick 16th overall on Thursday, which is their highest pick since they took Gavin Floyd with the fourth overall pick in the 2001 First-Year Player Draft.
They need to find the next Pat Burrell (1998), Brett Myers ('99), Utley (2000) or Hamels ('02) with that pick.
"If you look back and you see, we're not just a shoot-for-the-moon organization," Wolever said. "We've taken some kids that are more polished and farther along. I always call it a balanced approach. It comes back to options for me. When you pick at the bottom, at the end of the rainbow there, and you have a club that is in the prime of its career, sometimes it's advantageous in our minds as scouts to take players who are farther away, because it gives them more time to develop. If they put the tools together, then you got an impact guy. If they don't, then you swing and miss."
The 2013 First-Year Player Draft takes place Thursday through Saturday, beginning with the Draft preview show on MLB.com and MLB Network on Thursday at 6 p.m. ET. Live Draft coverage from MLB Network begins at 7 p.m., with the top 73 picks being streamed on MLB.com and broadcast on MLB Network. Rounds 3-10 will be streamed live on MLB.com on Friday, beginning with a preview show at 12:30 p.m., and Rounds 11-40 will be streamed live on MLB.com on Saturday, starting at 1 p.m.
MLB.com's coverage includes Draft Central, the Top 100 Draft Prospects list and Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of Draft-eligible players. You can also keep up to date by following @MLBDraft on Twitter. And get into the Draft conversation by tagging your tweets with #mlbdraft.
"There is no one at 16, in my estimation, that we could take that would impact the club this year or next year," Wolever said. "2015, that's a bit of a stretch."
As long as he makes a true impact at some point, the Phillies will take it.
In about 50 words
The Phillies have their highest selection in the First-Year Player Draft since 2001, so they need to make it count. They have lamented in recent years how they have picked low in the first round or haven't had any first-round picks at all. They do not have that excuse this year.
Wolever believes the Phillies will get a "really good player" in the first round.
"We've got a couple of kids who we really have a lot of interest in that I think could make their Major League careers here long ones, hopefully, and successful ones," he said.
Wolever offered few hints about which way the Phillies could go in the first round, but he said, "There are a few power bats at the top, college-wise. I think the biggest board will be the college pitching board, again. There will be more to choose from there than the other three boards."
The Phillies have $2.299 million slotted for their first-round pick, and $6.045 million for their picks in the first 10 rounds.
The Phillies only need to look at their big league offense to see what they need: bats, bats, bats. And not just a guy who has raw power, but a guy who actually has a knack for getting on base. The Phillies have had trouble scoring runs this season because they rarely have anybody on base. Players like Jimmy Rollins, Utley and Howard come around once in a lifetime, but the Phillies need to find players who can be productive everyday players in the big leagues.
The Phillies seem to take a lot of chances on high-ceiling guys, players who are not polished but have the potential to be studs if they develop. Of course, those players are also high risk and have a greater tendency to flame out.
Wolever said that is not the case.
"I heard it a few times," he said. "A couple scouting directors sat me down and said, 'You guys are known as the guys who take all the high-ceiling athletes, and we know that's not true.' And I said, 'You're exactly right.'
"We love those guys, but we've also taken players throughout the Draft that are good college players, that are good baseball players, who the ceiling might not be as high, but they have a chance to play in the big leagues quicker."
• Recent Draft History •
The Phillies selected outfielder Cameron Perkins in the sixth round last year. He is hitting .337 with an .894 OPS in 51 games at Class A Clearwater.
"Cameron has been kind of a surprise," Wolever said. "We saw him play third base in college. When you look at him as an outsider looking in, and certainly as a scout, he kind of looks like Bambi when he runs sometimes. But bottom line is results on the field, and they've been pretty good in college, and they've been good here."
It is unusual to put a former top pick in this category, but outfielder Kelly Dugan fits here only because he is playing well after battling countless nagging injuries since the Phillies selected him in the second round in 2009. He is hitting .322 with a .963 OPS this season in 30 games with Clearwater.
In The Show
he Phillies have 11 former Draft picks in the big leagues: Howard, Rollins, Utley, Hamels, Brown, Kendrick, Stutes, Jonathan Pettibone, Tyler Cloyd, Joe Savery and Justin De Fratus.
Phillies' recent top picks
2012: Shane Watson, RHP, Class A Lakewood
2011: Larry Greene, OF, Class A Lakewood
2010: Jesse Biddle, LHP, Double-A Reading
2009: Kelly Dugan, OF, Class A Clearwater
2008: Anthony Hewitt, OF, Double-A Reading