The Phillies have had some top Draft picks who have not panned out as well as they hoped in the past few years.
Whether it was shortstop Anthony Hewitt (whom the Phils took with their first pick in 2008 and is currently at Double-A Reading), Kelly Dugan (Philadelphia's first pick four years ago who is stuck in Class A) or someone else, top picks have not gone as well as they could have for the club. Granted, the Phillies have had some very successful seasons in the last handful of years, so the team has not often had high selections.
"We've had a lot of variables in who we picked, and why we picked who we picked," assistant general manager Marti Wolever said. "I think that has a direct [impact] on how quickly kids get through the system and how quickly kids get to the big leagues."
However, this year, the Phils had the 16th pick in the First-Year Player Draft, and Wolever and company went offensive at the top, using their first five picks on position players. The first pick was high school shortstop J.P. Crawford, and Wolever seemed confident that this selection can work out down the road.
"Offensively, he's a little bit ahead of the game, too," Wolever said of Crawford. "We're probably looking at three to four years before he's knocking at the door here in Philadelphia."
While players like Hewitt and Dugan have not yet met expectations, Jesse Biddle, the Phillies' first-round selection in 2010, has made strides in Double-A. Biddle made his 12th start of the season for Reading on Saturday, and he struck out seven batters and allowed only one run on four hits. Because he has not received much run support, Biddle's record is 3-6, but the lefty has a 3.03 ERA and has 79 strikeouts in 68 1/3 innings.
Biddle was rated as the No. 55 Major League prospect by MLB.com before the season, the top in the Phillies organization.
"I'm starting to think on the mound more clearly about what I want to do, not so much hesitation," said Biddle, a Philadelphia native. "I'm starting to feel healthier. I know I can compete at this level, but I am starting to feel like I can really do some damage."
Meanwhile, Hewitt is also in Reading, where he is trying to produce. He spent 2010 and '11 with low Class A Lakewood before going to Class A Clearwater last season. This is Hewitt's first Double-A campaign, and he has a .274 average, the best mark of any season of his professional career.
"It's been a long process for Anthony, and I'll tell you one thing, it's not for a lack of effort, because this kid works his fanny off," Wolever said.
Stephen Pianovich is an associate reporter for MLB.com.