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Phils add Stott, stockpile college arms in Draft

@paul_casella
June 5, 2019

PHILADELPHIA -- Without a top-10 pick for the first time since 2013, the Phillies had a simple strategy entering this year's MLB Draft -- simply take the best available player each time around. While some teams may have had a preference for their early picks, whether it be targeting pitchers

PHILADELPHIA -- Without a top-10 pick for the first time since 2013, the Phillies had a simple strategy entering this year's MLB Draft -- simply take the best available player each time around.

While some teams may have had a preference for their early picks, whether it be targeting pitchers over position players or vice versa, that wasn't necessarily the case for the Phillies.

"My philosophy is always to take the best player," Phillies scouting director Johnny Almaraz said heading into the Draft. "What's happened over the past couple of years, there's more college players available than the high school group. The college players, we have a tendency to focus on more because there are just more of them that are more polished and more advanced."

That was certainly the case this week, as the Phillies selected college players with 23 of their first 27 picks, including eight of the first nine.

The Phillies began restocking their pipeline by taking UNLV shortstop Bryson Stott with the No. 14 overall pick on Monday. For Almaraz, Stott not only qualified as one of those more advanced college players, but he certainly met the "best available" criteria.

Complete Draft Tracker

"We’ve got a polished young player here who has outstanding makeup," Almaraz said. "I met with him in the winter for about an hour and loved everything about him. I was very, very happy to get him."

Stott may not have any direct ties to the Philadelphia area, but he does have a long-standing relationship with a certain Phillies superstar. The 21-year-old all-around talent is friends with fellow Las Vegas native Bryce Harper.

Stott's brother played alongside Harper, and his mother was a cheerleading coach for Harper's sister. When he makes his way back to Vegas, Harper said Stott comes over to hang out and watch football.

"I FaceTimed him and told him, 'Congrats,'" Harper said. "I was pumped for him. It's funny because like two months ago I told him, 'Dude you're going to be a Phillie, bro. If you're there at [No.] 14, they're going to take you for sure.' He was super excited about that and super happy."

The same can be said for the Phillies. After starting the week by landing a player that Almaraz called a "potential frontline shortstop for the future," the Phillies spent much of the next two days stockpiling some strong arms.

That included a run of using three straight picks on relief pitchers in rounds five, six and seven. That stretch began with taking right-hander Gunner Mayer, who had 48 strikeouts in 37 2/3 innings at San Joaquin Delta College this season.

Up next, they took hard-throwing righty Andrew Schultz out of the University of Tennessee in the sixth round. A pure reliever, Schultz's fastball sits in the 95-97 mph range, though it's been clocked as high as 101 mph. One round later, the Phils selected another righty reliever in Brett Schulze, who had 55 strikeouts in 41 innings this season at the Univerity of Minnesota.

The Phillies continued that trend in Day 3 of the Draft, taking fellow Golden Gophers reliever Nick Lackney in the 18th round. The left-hander was Minnesota's Opening Day starter before moving to the bullpen the rest of the way, where he leaned heavily on his fastball en route to posting a 2.38 ERA.

That pick was part of a another pitcher-heavy stretch for the Phillies, who selected collegiate arms with five of their six picks from rounds 14-19. That run ended with southpaw Spencer Van Scoyoc, whose brother, Connor, was drafted last year by the Angels. Their father, Aaron, played three years in the Minors, and their great uncle is Mike Boddicker, who pitched 14 seasons in the big leagues from 1980-93.

As for high school hurlers, the Phillies rolled the dice on a high-upside pick late in Day 3. Philadelphia selected left-hander Michael Prosecky in the 35th round, with the 1,050th overall pick.

Prosecky, ranked the No. 151 Draft prospect per MLB Pipeline, is committed to Louisville. While the Cardinals typically do a good job holding onto their recruits, the Phillies decided to take a chance on the 18-year-old southpaw. Prosecky pounds the strike zone and has a fastball that already hits 93 mph -- a number that's likely to increase as he adds strength.

Of course, even if the Phillies can lure Prosecky away from the college ranks, it would likely be awhile before fans see him at Citizens Bank Park. The Phils are hoping that's not the case for a number of their college-tested players, particularly guys like Stott and some of the relievers they selected in the earlier rounds.

"[Stott] is an advanced player," Almaraz said. "We feel that he’s going to have a very favorable timeline as far as getting to the big leagues is concerned. We think he’s going to fit into our system and do what he needs to do."

By the numbers

• The Phillies used 23 of their 39 picks on pitchers, including 17 on collegiate arms. The first nine pitchers selected by the Phillies were from the college ranks, before they finally drafted high school right-hander Hilton Dyar in the 21st round.

• This is the fifth straight year the Phillies used their first pick on a position player. They haven't drafted a pitcher with their top pick since selecting Aaron Nola seventh overall in 2014.

• The Phillies drafted shortstops with each of their first two picks -- Stott in the first round and Jamari Baylor in the third round. It's the first time in franchise history that the Phils used their first two picks on shortstops.

Paul Casella is a reporter/editor for MLB.com based in Philadelphia. Follow him on Twitter @paul_casella.