Phillies Select Kevin Gowdy No. 42 in the Second Round

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Kevin Gowdy pitches for the U18 USA Team

The Phillies went back to the West Coast to pick up another California high schooler, pitcher Kevin Gowdy from Santa Barbara High School.

Gowdy, like Moniak, is also committed to UCLA. While Gowdy’s commitment to UCLA could come into play in his signability, he was still taken early enough that the Phillies should be able to sign him.

The 18-year old high schooler ranked No. 24 on Keith Law of ESPN’s “Big Board”, No. 37 on MLB.com, and No. 39 on the BA 500.

Gowdy is viewed as a high-upside player, and his long 6’4 frame gives the Phillies plenty to work with. His fastball sits in the low-90s and could get better as he fills out (he weighs 170 lbs as of now).

His breaking ball could become a solid slider in the future, and his changeup could become a major-league caliber pitch in time. His command has been shaky at times, but it can look really strong.

Overall, Gowdy could project to a workhorse starter in the middle of a rotation with three serviceable major-league pitchers and solid command.

Phillies Select OF Mickey Moniak No. 1 Overall

Mickey Moniak at the Area Code Games

Mickey Moniak at the Area Code Games

After weeks of debate over who the Phillies would select with the No. 1 overall pick in the draft, the Phillies finally ended all the chatter. The team selected California high school outfielder Mickey Moniak.

Moniak, who went to La Costa Canyon High School, batted .476 with 46 RBIs in 29 games played. Phillies executives, including Pat Gillick and Charlie Manuel, were at a game last week when Moniak batted 5-for-5 with eight RBIs and hit for the cycle.

For a while, many mock drafts indicated that the Phillies would select left-handed pitcher A.J. Puk from the University of Florida. However, with the Phillies scouting Moniak extensively in the past month, more and more mocks started to point towards the UCLA commit.

Moniak is an all-around defender, manning center field with ease. Moniak has plus speed and a solid enough arm to be a more than capable center fielder as he develops. He has the capability to make Kevin Kiermaier-esque plays as seen below.

While defense is Moniak’s strength, that isn’t to say that he struggles at the plate. His bat speed is strong and he has a clean swing through the strike zone. From reports, Moniak is very patient at the plate, analyzing each pitch and attacking when he sees something he likes.

The lone hole in Moniak’s game is power. Just turning 18 May 13, Moniak still has a lot of physical development left. He stands 6’2″ weighing 190 lbs, but he could fill out more on a pro workout regimen. Currently, Moniak has doubles power, but he could develop the power to hit double-digit home runs per season easily.

At present, Moniak is a four-tool outfielder who should be a plus defender throughout his career. Barring a freak injury, he should be able to be a solid major-league contributor when he reaches the majors. Moniak also has the upside of an above-average amount of home runs per year, which would make him a All-Star for years to come.

 

2016 Draft Prospect Preview: Outfielders

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Kyle Martin found success as a Phillie minor-leaguer with Lakewood in 2015 – Courtesy Baseball Betsy

Continuing on with our draft prospect preview series, it’s time to take a look at some of the outfielders the Phillies could be selecting. With many of the top prospects being pitchers, our focus will be more on who the Phillies could select Round 2, where the Phillies have the No. 42 overall pick.

Kyle Lewis
R/R, 6’4 195, 7/13/95, Mercer

Kyle Lewis has one of the biggest bats in the draft, and it may be big enough for the Phillies to select first overall. Lewis swings quick and hard, generating true plus power. His swing has some extra moving parts, but he gets his bat on the ball well enough. When leaving the box, his speed is fringy but it gets better as Lewis gets going.

Lewis plays center right now for Mercer, but a future in right field is more likely. With his solid glove, speed, and arm, he can be a reliable defender if nothing else.

Lewis’s stock resides in his big power and it could make him a power threat from right field for years to come.

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The Future is Closer; J.P. Crawford Promoted to Lehigh Valley

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J.P. Crawford at the Phillies Futures Game

After a 36-game stint this season in Double-A Reading, consensus No. 1 prospect J.P. Crawford is heading on up to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. Infielder Ryan Jackson was traded to the Angels in order to make room for Crawford.

With this move, Crawford is now just one step away from the major leagues. From now until his eventual promotion, Phillies fans will be itching to see Crawford at Citizens Bank Park.

Crawford had a .265/.398/.390 split so far this season with a 135 wRC+. As usual, he has walked more than he struck out, walking 18.1% of his plate appearances and only struck out 12.7%.

As noted by Matt Breen of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Crawford is the second-youngest player in the International League at just 21 years old. Ozzie Albies of the Braves is the youngest at 19.

 

Jose Pujols Showing Gilded Power in Lakewood

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While we knew Jose Pujols had plenty of power while he was in short-season ball, he struggled to show it in game. While he flashed it, the keyword there is flash. However, he is starting to show more power in his start at Class-A Lakewood.

Considering he spent three seasons in short-season ball, it only made sense he debuted in full-season Lakewood this year. His seven home runs through 28 games already is more than any of his past seasons. While this torrid pace is most likely unsustainable, it shows that Pujols’s power is still there even as he continues through the minor league system.

What has helped the power spike is the fact his increased contact rate. His average is up from .238 in 2015 to .281 so far this year in Lakewood. Contact has been one of the major hurdles in Pujols’s development, and any improvement in the area would be great news.

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However, upon some more inspection, we can see that all of Pujols’s home runs are to right field. Pujols hasn’t shown this strong of a pull tendency since 2013 when he was in the GCL. He has pushed some hits to the opposite field, but they haven’t been as frequent or as deeply hit. While the power has been there, it has been all to the pull side so far. That could change as Pujols adapts to the new competition level, but for now it’s something to keep an eye on.

Pujols’s contact is gilded as well. His strikeout rate has maintained its normally high percentage; it’s at 32.8% on the year. In the same light, Pujols’s BABIP has always been high, but it is especially high this year at .368. This could be fueling his as-noted average spike. Along with the heavy pull power, it is important to keep track of whether or not Pujols’s contact is truly improving.

Spray chart courtesy MLBFarm.com

2016 Draft Prospect Preview: Pitchers

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2015 1st round pick Cornelius Randolph takes cuts in spring training – Courtesy Baseball Betsy

The Phillies found several intriguing prospects in last season’s draft, with Cornelius Randolph, Scott Kingery, and Kyle Martin all finding success early after being selected by the team. The team again hopes they can replenish their organization considering several prospects are looking to graduate this season. With the No. 1 pick in the draft, the Phillies have their pick of the litter in this year’s class. Considering that, let’s take a look at some of the pitching talent the Phillies could be selecting with the top pick in the 2016 draft.

LHP Jason Groome
6’6 220, 8/23/98, Barnegat (N.J.) HS

Groome is one of three top arms in this year’s class and the top lefty coming out of the high school ranks. He will still be 17 on draft day, making him one of the youngest players in this season’s draft. He is a local to the area, going to school in Barnegat on the Jersey Shore. Groome was a coach at a baseball camp ran by Cole Hamels, who spoke highly of the high school senior.

Groome has a tremendous arsenal which is the core of his draft value. Groome’s fastball reaches as high as 96 while comfortably sitting in the low-90s. His curveball is his go-to secondary pitch, and it has good bite. MLB Pipeline grades it as a plus pitch. Groome’s changeup is not used often, but it is still an effective offering. His command is about what you would hope and he stays around the plate. His delivery showcases his athelticism, and he has “an effortlessly clean finish,” as Hudson Belinsky of Baseball America puts it.

Groome has the overall makeup of a frontline starter, with some comps as high as Clayton Kershaw. While this comparison may put undue pressure on Groome, it is easy to see why his ceiling is so high. However, as with most high school prospects, Groome has a long way to go before he can be considered ready to be a major-league contributor.


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Phillies Pitching Prospects Don’t Need to be Rushed

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Ricardo Pinto warms up at the Phillies Futures Game

Coming into this season, there was a solid chance the Phillies rotation was going to be rough. If the 2015 rotation was any indication, the Phillies weren’t going to have anything close to solid starting pitching. While Jerad Eickhoff and Aaron Nola were prepped to bolster the rotation, Charlie Morton and Jeremy Hellickson were big question marks.

However, this graphic put out by Fangraphs today shows the Phillies’ starting pitchers have the best FIP (Fielding-Independent Pitching) in the major leagues as of April 17th.

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