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.
LHP A.J. Puk
6’7″ 235, 4/25/95, Florida
A.J. Puk looks to be the best college arm in this year’s draft class despite his up-and-down history. If you look at raw stuff, Puk’s may be the best in the entire 2016 class. His fastball stays in the mid-90s and tops out at 97 on his best days. His slider is a definite plus pitch, and he uses it against both lefties and righties well. Puk’s changeup is a work-in-progress as of now, but it can become at least a major-league average pitch with proper coaching. Puk’s 3/4 delivery is all the better thanks to his height, and he delivers quickly to the plate.
The limit to Puk’s stock is inconsitency. His BB/9 was above four in both 2014 and 2015, but is slightly down this season at 3.64. His command overall has been spotty, but his simple mechanics could help ease these issues. Puk has also had to fight back spasms that have plagued him over the past calendar year.
If the Phillies are looking to draft Puk, they will be looking for three key factors: 1) Puk staying healthy down the stretch in the college season, 2) Puk’s command to at least be manageable, and 3) Puk’s strikeout potential to remain as high as it is with a combo of plus pitches in his fastball and slider.
RHP Riley Pint
6’4″ 210, 11/6/97, St. Thomas Aquinas (Kan.) HS
Pint is without a doubt the best right-hander in the class and can contend for being the best high-school draft prospect this year. Pint’s arsenal has all above-average pitches with a plus-plus fastball. Speaking of the fastball, it sits in the mid-to-upper 90s and has dominated the high school competition. His changeup is nothing to scoff at either, flashing plus. His breaking ball lacks consistency (becoming a slider or curve depending how he throws it) but it can easily become a plus pitch with honing.
As with his breaking ball, Pint’s delivery lacks consistency. His delivery has a lot of moving parts, especially at the end as he lets go of the pitch. He struggles with finding a consistent arm slot and it leads to inconsistent command.
Pint has quite the high ceiling with two plus pitches now and the potential for another. However, his mechanics need some honing before his stock becomes anything solid. As the Phillies try to finish off their draft board, Pint’s ceiling will be intriguing to say the least.