Draft Prospects to Watch for the Phillies

The MLB Players Association and MLB have yet to come to an agreement to play baseball in 2020 but the MLB Draft will still go on as scheduled. The MLB Draft will take place June 10-11 but this year’s MLB Draft is not a normal one though. MLB has cut the draft from the normal 40 rounds to only 5 rounds in 2020. Also, any player that signs after the 5th round is allowed to sign for a maximum $20,000 signing bonus. A shortened draft was inevitable due to the financial implications of COVID-19 but cutting the draft by this many rounds could have a huge impact down the road for teams. Depth for team’s systems is often found in the later rounds of the draft and sometimes even superstars are found like Mets ace Jacob deGrom who was a 9th round pick in 2010.

The Phillies hope to find talent once again and this will be the first draft for new Scouting Director Brian Barber who replaced former Scouting Director Johnny Almaraz, who stepped down for family reasons. The Phillies will only have 4 picks in this draft due to losing their 2nd round pick by signing Zack Wheeler over the winter. Here we will take a look at the prospects that could be available when the Phillies pick at #15 overall.


(AP)

Nick Bitsko, RHP, Central Bucks East (PA) HS

Bitsko reclassified from the class of 2021 to the 2020 class earlier this year and is one of the best prep arms in this year’s class. Bitkso is ranked as the 14th overall prospect by MLB Pipeline and ranked 16th overall by Fangraphs. Due to the COVID-19 shutdown scouts didn’t get to see much of Bitsko at all this year so they will most be relying on what they saw of him last summer at the East Coast Pro Showcase. His fastball sat 92-96 mph and has a hard breaking curveball that generated a lot of swings and misses. It’s hard to know where Bitsko’s stock is at since he was only seen once this year in a bullpen session. He is committed to the University of Virginia and they have a history of getting their guys to campus so it might take an offer over slot bonus to get Bitsko to sign. Bitsko has top of the rotation upside so the risk could be well worth it for the Phillies. He has been tied to the Phillies by Kiley McDaniel from ESPN and Jim Callis from MLB Pipeline as well as being mocked to the Phillies by ESPN and CBS Sports.


(Oklahoma University Athletics)

Cade Cavalli, RHP, Oklahoma

Cavalli began to focus solely on pitching as sophomore at Oklahoma after playing first base as a freshman and that’s when he began to breakout. Cavalli has a smooth and easy delivery with a fastball that sits 92-96 mph and can sometimes touch the upper 90s. He has good depth on his curveball and scouts believe he can develop an average changeup once he starts to throw it more. Cavalli, like Bitsko, has top of the rotation potential but does come with injury concerns. He did not pitch as a freshman at Oklahoma because of a back injury that forced him to miss his high school senior season. He also missed time as a sophomore at Oklahoma because of a stress reaction in his arm. The injury concerns are definitely there but the injuries also have allowed him to keep the innings on his arm down. Cavalli was mocked to the Phillies by Keith Law in his mock draft on The Athletic. 


(Sports Illustrated)

Ed Howard, SS, Mount Carmel (IL) HS

Howard repeatedly makes hard contact by having a simple swing and an advanced approach at the plate. Once he fills out into his 6’2 frame he could produce above average power while sticking at shortstop. Howard is smooth and athletic in the field with solid speed which will allow him to stick at shortstop long term. Howard solidified himself as one of the top high school players in the class after performing well against some of the best high school pitchers in the country on the showcase circuit last summer. Howard is rated as the 15th overall prospect by MLB Pipeline and the 11th overall prospect by Fangraphs. 


Garrett Crochet, LHP, University of Tennessee

Crochet bounced back and forth between Tennessee’s rotation and bullpen for most of his first two seasons there. Crochet rose up draft boards after being seen sitting 96-100 mph with his fastball during the fall. In his only start this spring he was up to 99 mph with the fastball. His fastball/slider combo has been compared to that of Andrew Miller. His stuff can also play up due to his very high spin rates with the fastball and the slider shows above-average spin rate as well according to scouts. Scouts have also said his changeup flashes above-average at times. He did miss time in 2020 due to shoulder soreness which only allowed him to make one appearance this spring. He also has a need to refine his command which if he doesn’t could land him in the bullpen long term. An elite reliever would not be a bad end result considering the state of the Phillies bullpen at the moment. Crochet is ranked as the 18th overall prospect by MLB Pipeline and the 23rd overall prospect by Fangraphs. 


(Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports)

Austin Hendrick, OF, West Allegheny (PA) HS

The western Pennsylvania native has some of the best raw power in this year’s class. Hendrick has a very violent swing with quick hands and great bad speed. There is some swing and miss in his game and along with the violent swing and  his approach at the plate has garnered him comparisons to current Phillie Bryce Harper. Hendrick is a good athlete so he could possibly play centerfield but he probably fits best in a corner outfield spot. Hendrick is ranked as the 13th overall draft prospect by both Fangraphs and MLB Pipeline.  


(UCLA Athletics)

Garrett Mitchell, OF, UCLA

Garrett Mitchell is one of the more interesting players in the 2020 class. He was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in the 3rd grade and has played well despite the disease. Mitchell is rated as the 6th overall prospect in the 2020 Draft by MLB Pipeline and 14th overall by Fangraphs. Questions about his hit tool coming out of high school saw him land at UCLA where he quieted some of those concerns but questions about his power at the next level still remain. Scouts think he can develop at least average power in pro ball but with the only 6 career home runs in 121 NCAA games the question exists if he can turn his raw power into game power. Still, even with his power questions Mitchell is a plus runner and will stay in centerfield with potential to be a plus defender there as well. Mitchell was mocked to the Phillies in Jim Callis’ mock draft for MLB Pipeline. 


(Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

Tyler Soderstrom, C, Turlock (CA) HS

In Jonathan Mayo’s latest mock draft for MLB Pipeline he has the Phillies selecting Soderstrom. While Soderstrom is a catcher currently, a team like the Phillies who do have good depth and some promising players at the catcher spot in their system could look to move Soderstrom to another position. His approach at the plate and overall athleticism would allow him to make a move to third base or a corner outfield spot as a pro.


Getting closer and closer to the draft it is still hard to tell who exactly the Phillies are targeting. It’s important to note that as I said in the opening paragraphs that the Phillies have a new scouting director in Brian Barber and how he views players could be completely different than what the previous scouting director did. Barber comes from the Yankees where they chose a high school player with their first selection in three of the last four drafts. Compare that to the Phillies who have taken a college player with their first pick in three consecutive drafts and with the Phillies only having four picks in this year’s draft that trend could continue. We will find out on June 10th who the Phillies will select with their 1st round pick and with the rest of their draft on June 11th.


Sources: MLB Pipeline, Fangraphs, The Baseball Cube