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June 12, 2017

Phillies take UVA outfielder Haseley with 8th overall pick in MLB Draft

While the reeling Phillies attempted to put the breaks on a six-week-long skid in Boston – with 101 games still remaining on their 2017 schedule – an army of scouts and front office personnel gathered in a war room at Citizens Bank Park on Monday night.

They hoped to add a pivotal piece to their ongoing rebuild with the eighth-overall pick in the 2017 draft when they chose University of Virginia outfielder Adam Haseley.

"It doesn't feel real at all," Haseley said from his Orlando-area home on Monday night. "I just feel extremely grateful and blessed and I know the Phillies are an amazing organization. I'm just super excited to get started and go through the process."

By taking the 21-year-old Haseley, a left-handed hitter, it marks the first time the Phillies have used their first round pick on a college bat since 2000 when they chose an infielder out of UCLA named Chase Utley. Haseley hit .390 with a .491 OBP 14 home runs, 16 doubles in 58 games with Virginia this season.

"He's everything you look for in a hitter," Phillies scouting director Johnny Almaraz said, citing Haseley's strong strikeout and walk numbers in the ACC.

"He’s a really good baseball player. He’s got outstanding ability, outstanding tools. He can run, he can throw, he can hit, he can hit with power. He’s got incredible intangibles for the game. He’s got outstanding makeup, what we consider makeup, his character, his intelligence, his field awareness. He’s really good."

Haseley earned the nickname 'Rev' in college for his strong Christian faith. He attended The First Academy, a private Christian school in Orlando, before enrolling at UVA.

The Phillies can only hope he can follow the path of some recent college bats drafted among the top 10 picks in the draft, like Michael Conforto of the Mets and Kyle Schwarber of the Chicago Cubs, two hitters that climbed quickly through the minor league ranks and onto major league fields. 

Almaraz was asked how Haseley's skills compare to Mickey Moniak, whom the Phillies drafted first overall last year.

"Very similar," Almaraz said. "They're similar players."

Haseley (pronounced HAZE-lee) was the second straight Virginia player to be selected in Monday’s draft – Arizona chose UVA first baseman Pavin Smith with the 7th-overall pick.

Royce Lewis (Minnesota Twins) and Sports Illustrated cover kid Hunter Greene (Cincinnati Reds), two prep bats, went with the first two picks of the draft. The Padres took high school left-hander MacKenzie Gore with the third pick.

The 2017 draft was the fourth straight that the rebuilding Phillies owned a top-10 pick. Prior to Moniak, the Phillies selected Georgia prep outfielder Cornelius Randolph (10th) in 2015 and LSU right-hander Aaron Nola (7th) in 2014.

Haseley also worked as a part-time pitcher at UVA, but the Phillies have no plans to use him from the mound. He will begin his pro career as a center fielder.

One interesting observation from Haseley's 2017 stat line: he had more walks (44) than strikeouts (21) in 223 at-bats at UVA this season.

"It was kind of flipped from the summer out (in the Cape Cod League)," said Haseley, who had 34 strikeouts and 14 walks in 143 at-bats over 41 games with the Cape's Orleans Firebirds last summer. "It was something that I knew I wanted to work on in the fall, it helps you in more ways than you think, being able to get on base when you’re struggling. You can draw a walk and build some momentum with that."

Another observation from his just-completed final season at UVA: he hit more than twice as many home runs as a junior this year (14) than he hit as a sophomore (six) in 24 fewer at-bats.

"(Power potential) is determined by how much I continue to work on my strengths and continue to keep it where it is," Haseley said. "But at the same time, things that happened in the spring weren’t an accident. (The home runs) are a product of hard work."

"I believe he’s going to hit anywhere between 20-25 (home runs)," Almaraz said. "I think he’s a player with really good pull power. We scouted him extensively. He’s strong. He’s a college player that still has projection as far as his body strength is concerned. His hitting ability is above average and when he gets stronger that ball is going to travel some more."

When told Almaraz praised all of his tools – his speed, throwing arm, hitting, and hitting with power – Haseley was asked what he felt was his best tool as he enters pro ball.

"I think just putting the bat on the ball," he said. "I think that contact tool is one of my strengths. The more selective I am I think the power tool comes with that ... so I'd say contact tool."

Haseley was also asked about the distinction of being the first college hitter the Phillies had selected with their top pick since taking Utley with the 15th overall pick 17 years ago.

"I have expectations for myself and I believe in myself," he said, "and if I could ever have that pedigree it would be super special."

Here are a few scouting reports on Haseley:

"Haseley's bat has taken a nice leap forward this season and he's hit over, or close to, .400 for much of his junior year. … There could be some upside here, with more to be unlocked once he stops pitching and focuses 100 percent on hitting. His stock was soaring as much as any college position player as the spring unfolded.”  –
 "Haseley has shown the ability to hit the ball out to all fields, controls the strike zone and has an advanced approach. He hits plenty of line drives but also has learned to loft the ball, producing more home runs. He's also an above-average runner ... grades out as an average defender in center field." – Baseball America
"Haseley leads the Cavaliers in all three triple-slash stats (.396/.495/.689) and in walks (32) through April 22, showing surprising power and the potential to stay in centerfield long-term." –'s Keith Law