June 03, 2020
There is a professional sports league draft taking place next week, on June 10th, that you probably didn't know about.
And that's probably okay.
In addition to the MLB entry draft being the least interesting (since it's the least impactful) of the major sport drafts, it's also scheduled to take place in the middle of a pandemic, and in the middle of nationwide protests in the wake of the murder of George Floyd.
But it's still happening, and it's still a huge factor in the future for baseball teams like the Phillies.
Philly is picking 15th overall this year, smack dab in the middle after finishing at .500 last season. We'll break down their biggest needs, the strategy they are expected to employ and take a look at the bigger picture for the club later this week, but for now, we wanted to help familiarize Phillies fans with some of the players who are being projected to join the team during the 2020 truncated five-round event.
Here's a brief look at what some major baseball media outlets think Matt Klentak and the Phillies will do with No. 15:
The Phillies are lacking in high-upside pitching, so taking a high-upside pitcher makes sense, which is where CBS Sports thinks Philly will focus its top pick. And they won't have to look very far to find their guy. More on the prediction:
Bitsko, a local kid from the Philadelphia suburbs, is graduating a year early and his high school didn't play any games this spring, so teams haven't seen him since last summer. Even then, they didn't bear down on him because they thought he was a 2021 draft kid. On talent, Bitsko could be a top-10 pick, but the lack of information is pushing him down draft boards. It would not surprise me to see him go in the middle of the first round or as late as the 61-72 range, when teams with extra picks will target high upside players who've slipped. The Phillies haven't had much luck with high schoolers in recent years, but they have a new scouting director, and it's not often you can get an arm like Bitsko's at 15. Our R.J. Anderson ranked Bitsko the No. 12 prospect in the draft class. [cbssports.com]
McDaniel's analysis paired with the obvious local connection is enough to get any Phillies fan riled up and rooting for the team to select Bitsko — who appears to be trending way up right now. Here's some more on him:
Bitsko is the hottest name in the industry. He posted a video on Instagram with some Rapsodo data over footage of a bullpen session, but a lot of prep pitchers have done that. What made this notable was that Bitsko reclassified to the 2020 draft class in January and has thrown only one bullpen for scouts since then (his spring season never started). The three innings he threw over two events last summer provide the only track record most teams have with Bitsko. Showing that he’s at full strength and has improved since the summer and giving more complete data such as this to clubs would serve to make him an option at most picks in the first round, rather than just an over-slot option after pick 30.
San Diego and Philly are both known to be interested, and Bitsko’s style of pitching appeals to a number of teams, including Baltimore and Arizona, which both pick in the compensatory round, so they have plenty of ammo to meet Bitsko’s price. There’s an argument that Bitsko has the highest ceiling in the draft besides the consensus top three, but there are teams that simply don’t have enough information to be comfortable drafting him. [espn.com]
It's kind of funny to read CBS', ESPN's and then The Athletic's takes back to back. In literal contrast to the high school pitching phenom projected to the Phils just above, Law thinks the Phillies are not in any way risking a draft choice on a high school arm. Hmm...
Cavalli boosted himself this spring in the brief college season, looking more advanced once he was no longer also trying to hit, and he probably fits in the teens here. The Phillies seem open to any player type except high school pitching. [theathletic.com]
Over at MLB.com, their expert Jim Wallis seems to be of mind that the Phillies are looking to take a risk, but not on a high school pitcher as he has them passing on Bitsko who goes three picks later to Arizona. With their outfield situation uncertain beyond 2020, a "five tool" pick there might be smart.
Mitchell is another huge wild card because he has five-tool upside but also Type 1 diabetes and just six homers in 121 college games. There's a lot of recent chatter that the Phillies could take Bitsko, and all three of the best high school arms are in play here. [mlb.com]
In Zielinski's latest mock, he sees the pitchers, Cavalli and Bitsko, each dropping to the bottom of the first round. He has very high praise for an outfield prospect who could fill a future big need for the big league club:
Pete Crow-Armstrong entered last summer as the top prep prospect in the draft class. But an average summer, which consisted of him getting away from his line-drive approach early on the showcase circuit, resulted in teams having concerns about his ability at the plate.
The left-handed-hitting center fielder has five-tool potential. He showed encouraging results this spring. It’ll be interesting to see how teams view Crow-Armstrong, but I believe he is the most promising prep player in this year’s draft class. [baseballprospectusjournal.com]
There isn't a blurb given after Tansey predicts the Phillies will take Crow-Armstrong, but he does give a little color toward the bottom of the article, saying that he is among five outfielders expected to go in the first round. Will the Phillies take a chance on a high school outfield bat after their struggles to get Mickey Moniak — former No. 1 overall pick — going in the minors?
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