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June 04, 2015

Phillies draft watch: College World Series edition

With the MLB Draft on Monday, here's how you can scout some top NCAA prospects this weekend

Ready or not, the MLB Draft is less than a week away.

Sure, it doesn’t get the hype or attention of the NFL, the NBA or even the NHL draft, but the outcome is just as important, especially when your team is rebuilding. 

Like the Phillies.

That is in part due to its length, which is often more than 40 rounds when including compensatory picks, and in part due to the amount of players drafted right out of high school, meaning you haven’t even heard of them before. Heck, even the stars of the college game are relative unknowns when compared to their basketball and football counterparts. Add to that the fact that some of the players drafted don’t actually sign with the team that picked them and of the ones that do, most won’t make it to the big leagues for a few years, if at all.

The Phillies are slated to pick 10th when the first round gets underway on June 8, and according to ESPN’s Jayson Stark, you may have a chance to watch their first-round pick play a game or two between now and then.

During an interview with Mike Missanelli on 97.5 the Fanatic on Tuesday, Stark said that he’s been hearing GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. would prefer to take a college player in the first round of what he called a weak draft. He also added that Pat Gillick, back with the team as president, would likely prefer to take a younger player right out of high school.

If that’s the case, the Phillies first-round pick on Monday could be an indication of just how much faith remains in Amaro and whether or not they’ll re-sign the lame duck GM when his contract expires after the season. Granted, there’s a lot more nuance — at least one hopes — when making a draft pick, so the pick may have nothing to do with Amaro’s future. But hearing it from Stark, one of the most-trusted baseball sources, at least gives it some credibility, certainly more than this writer can offer.

Meanwhile, new director of amateur scouting, Johnny Almaraz met with reporters on Tuesday to discuss the Phillies draft plans, stating that he intends to draft "the best baseball players with the best ability."

But if the Phillies do go for a college player in Round 1, well, you’re in luck. There’s a good chance you can scout him for yourself this weekend as the NCAA begins the Super Regional round of its baseball tournament on Friday.

With that in mind, here’s a look at some of the top draft prospects to watch in each of the eight best-of-three series this weekend, followed by a roundup of mock draft from national writers like ESPN's Keith Law and's Jonathan Mayo.

Charlottesville Super Regional

Virginia vs. Maryland

Game 1: Friday at 4 p.m. on ESPNU 
Game 2: Saturday at 3 p.m. on ESPNU 
Game 3: Sunday at 3 p.m. on ESPN2 or ESPNU (if necessary)

Top 100* prospects:

*According to ESPN Insider Keith Law

(20) Nate Kirby, LHP, Virginia
(42) Joe McCarthy, OF, Virginia
(91) Brandon Lowe, 2B, Maryland


• Josh Sborz, RHP, Virginia
• Joe McCarthy, RF, Virginia

Fayetteville Super Regional

Arkansas vs. No. 8 Missouri St.

Game 1: Friday at 4:30 p.m. on ESPN2 
Game 2: Saturday at 2 p.m. on ESPN2
Game 3: Sunday at 3 p.m. on ESPN2 or ESPNU (if necessary)

Top 100 prospects:

(21) Andrew Benintendi, OF, Arkansas
(23) Jon Harris, RHP, Missouri St.

Coral Gables Super Regional

VCU vs. No. 5 Miami (Fla.)

Game 1: Friday at 12 p.m. on ESPNU 
Game 2: Saturday at 12 p.m. on ESPNU
Game 3: Sunday at 12 p.m. on ESPN2 or ESPNU (if necessary)

Top 100 prospects: 



• Andrew Suarez, LHP, Miami
• David Thompson, 3B, Miami

Gainesville Super Regional

Florida St. vs. No. 4 Florida 

Game 1: Friday at 7:30 p.m. on ESPNU 
Game 2: Saturday at 5 p.m. on ESPNU
Game 3: Sunday at 6 p.m. on ESPNU OR 7 p.m. ESPNU (if necessary)

Top 100 prospects:

(70) DJ Stewart, 1B, Florida State
(75) Richie Martin, SS, Florida


• Harrison Bader, OF, Florida
• Eric Hanhold, RHP, Florida

Baton Rouge Super Regional

La. Lafayette vs. No. 2 LSU

Game 1: Saturday at 8 p.m. on ESPNU 
Game 2: Sunday at 6 p.m. on ESPNU OR 7 p.m. on ESPN2
Game 3: Monday at TBD on TBD (if necessary)

Top 100 prospects:

(4) Alex Bregman, SS, LSU
(51) Blake Trahan, SS, La. Lafayette


• Andrew Stevenson, CF, LSU

Fort Worth Super Regional

Texas A&M vs. No. 7 TCU

Game 1: Saturday at 3 p.m. on ESPN
Game 2: Sunday at 2:15 p.m. on ESPN
Game 3: Monday at TBD on TBD (if necessary)

Top 100 prospects:



• Alex Young, LHP, TCU
• Riley Ferrell, RHP, TCU

Champaign Super Regional

Illinois vs. No. 6 Vanderbilt

Game 1: Saturday at 8 p.m. on ESPNU
Game 2: Sunday at 9 p.m. on ESPNU
Game 3: Monday at TBD on TBD (if necessary)

Top 100 prospects:

(3) Dansby Swanson, SS, Vanderbilt
(9) Tyler Jay, LHP, Illinois
(43) Carson Fulmer, RHP, Vanderbilt
(17) Walker Buehler, RHP, Vanderbilt


• Tyler Ferguson, RHP, Vanderbilt
• Rhett Wiseman, OF, Vanderbilt

Louisville Super Regional

Cal St. Fullerton vs. No. 3 Louisville

Game 1: Saturday at 11 a.m. on ESPN2
Game 2: Sunday at 12 p.m. on ESPN2 or ESPNU
Game 3: Monday at TBD on TBD (if necessary)

Top 100 prospects:

(28) Kyle Funkhouser, RHP, Louisville


Kevin Newman, SS, Arizona
Analysis: They're also in on Naylor, Happ and Stephenson. One minute I hear they want someone who can get to the majors quickly, and the next I hear they love Stephenson, who is about as risky as it gets. (Mayo)

Walker Buehler, RHP, Vanderbilt
A year ago, Aaron Nola didn't really fit the type of a "typical" first pick for the Phillies, who have leaned more toward athletic high school types. But Nola has been dominant in Double-A, so the Phillies could be tempted to go that route again with Buehler, another advanced, albeit slightly undersized, college right-hander. (Callis)

Walker Buehler, RHP, Vanderbilt
After years of gambling on toolsy but raw athletes, the Phillies spent their 2014 first-round pick on a college performer, Aaron Nola. They're expected to go the same route again with Jay, Buehler or Benintendi.


Tyler Stephenson, C, Kennesaw Mountain HS (GA), Georgia Tech commit
GM Ruben Amaro has been seen at a lot of games late this spring and he saw Stephenson, Benintendi and Cornelius Randolph just in Georgia in the last few weeks. They would take Tucker if he gets here, they’ve kicked the tires on the top 3 college arms and Buehler, along with Ian Happ. There’s also some interest in preps C Chris Betts and LF Trenton Clark. Allard is a possible pick here if he throws well before the draft. Stephenson is the heaviest buzz here, by far, and he may be highest on the board of all of the names I mentioned. Amaro was visibly excited when Stephenson hit the homers in the playoff game at the end of the above video.

Baseball America

Tyler Stephenson, C, Kennesaw Mountain (Ga.) HS
The Phillies could take [UCLA pitcher James] Kaprielian if he’s there but are said not to favor Harris, who lacks present physicality. Instead they’re tied more to upside prep bats such as the outfield class and Stephenson.