Thursday, MLB will have its annual draft, and if you haven’t heard yet, the Phillies have the seventh overall pick. This is the highest the Phillies have drafted since 2001 when, with the fourth pick, they took a young right-handed pitcher from Annapolis, Maryland named Gavin Floyd. Normally the Phillies have the same philiosphy; they take young kids out of high school who are raw, but with high ceilings. Picks like Anthony Hewitt, Zach Collier, Kyrell Hudson, and Larry Greene are just a few that haven’t panned out. This would be a great draft to shy away from that philosophy as it is strong with college arms.
The Phillies are in desperate need of starting pitching help in the upper levels of the minors. Other than Jesse Biddle, the Phillies don’t have a player in either AAA or AA who could possibly help the club next season. The Phillies have three of their five starters (Burnett, Hernandez, and Kendrick) on the last years of their contract, and Cliff Lee will once again be a hot topic of discussion during the trade deadline. All of these things point to the Phillies looking at a college starting pitcher for the draft, so lets run through a few names that the Phillies could be looking at with pick number seven.
Kyle Freeland: LHP – 6’4, 185 – Evansville
Freeland was the ace for the Evansville Purple Aces this past season and enjoyed a phenomenal year. In 14 games the Colorado native went 10-2 with a 1.90 ERA. He struck out 128 batters in 99.2 innings pitched and hitters hit just .214 off of him. He also had a very impressive 10.67 K/BB ratio which was good for third amongst NCAA pitchers,\. This was after a stellar campaign in the Cape Cod League. With the Hyannis Harbor Hawks Freeland posted a 2.25 ERA (nine games, six starts), while leading the league in strikeouts with 48.
Freeland posses a nice deceptive fastball for a lefty that can get up to 95, but usually sits around 90-93 MPH. If you watched the above video you can see he has a devastating slider that has great movement on it which he uses as an out pitch, and a changeup which he is working on. Usually I get concerned with Cape Cod League success for pitchers because hitters are going from swinging those nice light aluminum bats to the wooden ones resulting in a feeling out process. But its hard to ignore his post Cape Cod success this past season in Evansville.
The Phillies are very familiar with Freeland, having taken him in the 35th round out of high school in 2011. The Phillies could look to do what the Mariners did in last years draft when they took DJ Peterson 12th overall after having drafted him out of high school. If the Phillies pass on him the Rockies could jump on the hometown kid with the number eight pick.
Aaron Nola: RHP – 6’1, 185 – LSU
Aaron Nola has been LSU’s ace for the past few years and for good reason. In 16 games this season Nola went 11-1 with a 1.47 ERA (16th in NCAA). He struck out 134 batters (2nd in NCAA) in 116.1 innings pitched. Hitters are batting just .172 off of him this season, and his .83 WHIP was good for fourth among NCAA pitchers.
Nola can place his 90-93 MPH fastball wherever he wants. He has no problem working it inside or outside to hitters. He also possesses a breaking ball that he can throw for strikes and a nice changeup that he uses to keep the batters guessing. Nola’s big strength is his ability to locate the strike zone. Think the opposite of Phillippe Aumont.
The Phillies desperately need to draft a pitcher who can reach the big leagues quickly and scouts project that Nola will be the first from the draft class to do so. Because of this, it would make sense for the Phillies to grab Nola with the seventh overall pick if he’s available. The Blue Jays took him out of high school and attempted to sign him but ultimately failed. If the Phillies don’t grab him the Blue Jays could scoop him up with the ninth overall pick.
Sean Newcomb: LHP- 6’5, 240 – Hartford
Sean Newcomb is the power lefty that most teams would love to have. With Hartford University, Newcomb has established himself as one of the best left handed pitchers in the country. In 14 games he compiled an 8-2 record with a 1.25 ERA (good for eighth in the NCAA) and 106 strike outs. He struggled in the Cape Cod League ( 7.36 ERA in 7.1 IP) but he was also battling Mononucleosis.
Newcomb is a lefty who can get his fastball up to 97 MPH, but usually throws it between 90-94 MPH. His fastball is his best pitch, but he can also throw a pretty good slider, curveball and changeup. His struggles in the Cape Cod Leauge can be ignored as it is tough to do just about anything when you’re dealing with Mono.
Newcomb is going to become the highest drafted player in the University of Hartford’s history. If the Phillies fall in love with his velocity from the left side, then he could hear his name called with the number seven pick. If not the Blue Jays could be an option with either the number nine or eleven picks.
Touki Toussaint: RHP- 6’2, 195 – Coral Springs Christian High School (Florida)
Im not going to bore you with high school stats because if the kid is projected to go in the first round of the MLB draft you know they’re impressive. Toussaint has two plus pitches in his fastball and his curveball. His fastball can get as high as 95-97, but will usually rest in the low 90′s. His curveball is his money pitch. This is a curveball that will have scouts (and possibly Dr James Andrews) salivating over. This Curveball is what I call the 20′s and 30′s. Its the roaring 20′s, and then drops like the stock market did in 1929. Its got so much action on it that some catchers have trouble holding onto it. Just see for yourself.
In past years this would probably be the Phillies pick if they were looking for pitching. A young projectable front of the rotation starter who is raw, but has a very high ceiling. Toussaint’s biggest problem is repeating his delivery. He also has trouble with command at times, which could be fixed with better mechanics. He is committed to Vanderbilt, but wont be attending as he is pegged to go top 15 in the draft.
Convential wisdom would say the Phillies wont draft Toussaint, but he fits the mold of what the “old” Phillies philosophy would want. I don’t think the Phillies will take Toussaint, but then again I wouldn’t be shocked.
Nick Gordon: SS- 6’2, 170- Olympia High School (Florida)
If you’ve been following the draft chances are you’ve heard of Nick Gordon. He is the son of former Phillies reliever Tom “Flash” Gordon, and the younger brother of Dodgers burner Dee Gordon. The Phillies already worked him out, and chances are he is going top five in the draft and wont be around when the Phillies pick anyway.
Gordon projects as a top of the order hitter with good speed and a smooth swing. He doesn’t have much power right now, but that could come with some time in the weight room. Scouts project that Gordon’s speed and athleticism will see him stick with shortstop, which the Phillies don’t really need having drafted JP Crawford last year with the 16th overall pick.
As with Toussaint, conventional wisdom says the Phillies don’t pick Gordon. but they’ve worked him out, and like Toussaint he fits their “old” philosophy of taking raw projects with very high ceilings. The Phillies wanted Dee Gordon a few years back, and if Nick Gordon slips to number seven things could get interesting. Would Amaro Jr. grab the Florida State commit, or go with the safe move by drafting one of the college arms?