The MLB Draft, the only amateur selection process in major pro sports that takes place during the regular season, will be held between June 3 and June 5, and will be covered extensively on the MLB Network and MLB.com. The Phillies have the 14th overall selection given their 80-82 record from last season. There is no lottery system in baseball; the picks are ordered by overall record, from worst to best.
After reading mock drafts from MLB Pipeline, CBS Sports, ESPN (subscription required) and Draftsite, among others, the consensus choice for the Phillies is that there is no consensus. No two mocks that I read had the Phillies selecting the same player.
Baseball prospects tend to take a longer time to develop than in football and basketball, where the top picks are expected to play day one, sans some quarterbacks. The NHL is even getting to a point where the top few overall selections year over year are making an immediate impact with the big club.
The point is this: baseball is hard. Scouting baseball is even harder. Don’t even get me started on the pressures that come with trying to evaluate a high schooler and project their future in the Big Leagues when they do not even have a diploma in their hands yet!
The Phillies will get another crack at drafting their next superstar in less than two weeks. Here are some of the realistic possibilities for the Phillies at No. 14:
LHP Nick Lodolo: I might as well start with my favorite prospect of the bunch and my personal hope in the middle of the first round. Some mocks have him as a top seven pick and for good reason. In a draft that is light on college arms, Lodolo stands out as the clear favorite. Peaking around 96 mph with his fastball, Lodolo fosters plus command on all three of his pitches. His smooth delivery allows him to throw with little perceived effort, but don’t be fooled; he possess a plus slider and change-up when he is on his game. Even at No. 14, he would be the highest drafted TCU Horned Frog in the program’s history.
3B Rece Hinds: Draftsite has the Phillies selecting the Florida high school third baseman. MLB.com ranks Hinds at No. 35, while CBS Sports does not project him in the first round, as of this writing. With plus raw power, he also has a tendency to strikeout a lot. Hinds recently played in the outfield, as questions have arisen to his ability to stick at third long term. Often compared to Alec Bohm, whom the Phillies selected #3 just last season, Hinds has a future Major League skillset at a young age. If the club is looking for power, you cannot go wrong with Hinds.
LHP Zack Thompson: ESPN has this very intriguing lefty falling in the Phillies lap. The University of Kentucky pitcher has been swapping back and forth with Lodolo in terms of the best collegiate arm in the draft. He possesses a fastball, curveball, slider and changeup, with the fastball and slider profiling as plus pitches when at their best. He is almost a sure bet to be the highest drafted Kentucky Wildcat in history. The questions remain about his health. While he remained completely healthy this season, his track record suggests some inherited risk.
SS Gunnar Henderson: CBS Sports has the Phillies reaching for Henderson, who is shooting up some draft boards due to hit all-around hitting ability. He can hit gap-to-gap with some true power potential. Questions lurk about his long term ability at shortstop. MLB.com suggests a potential move to third base. Currently a consensus top 35 pick after entering the season somewhere in the top three rounds, the Phillies may take the leap here. He is currently committed to Auburn University, but a lot can change come June 3.
3B Josh Jung: The #16 draft prospect according to MLB Pipeline, who also has the Phillies selecting him at No. 14, Jung won Big 12 Freshman of the Year honors at Texas Tech in 2017. He has continued to rake since. He is considered one of the best all-around offensive players in the draft. His speed is his downside, but incumbent Maikel Franco has shown that you do not need to be fleet of foot to be a Major League third baseman. He has also played some shortstop in college as recently as this past April.
RHP Jackson Rutledge: Standing at 6-foot-8 and 240 pounds, the huge righty from San Jacinto Junior College in Texas has a great shot of not only being there at No. 14, but going down as the highest drafted pitcher out of a junior college this millennium. He can touch triple digits on the radar gun occasionally and can carry 96 mph+ into the late innings. His downside is commanding his pitches. This is one 20-year-old to keep on your radar!
Matt Klentak and co. have some decisions to make; whatever direction they decide to go, a top flight prospect is just weeks away from entering the Phillies farm system!