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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.