Phillies 2015 Draft Wrap-Up With ESPN’s Eric Longenhagen

As the dust was settling from last week’s draft, I asked our old pal Eric Longenhagen from ESPN to do an email Q&A on the Phillies draft, and he and I wrote back and forth over the last week or so. I’m posting most of what was discussed below, with some notes about after-the-fact facts peppered in to Eric’s comments in italics for clarity. Big thanks to Eric, and if you missed his post-draft analysis on ESPN, please click through here and give it a look. Hope you all enjoy.

Have you seen first rounder Cornelius Randolph in person?

Yes, I saw him in person during showcases last summer and I liked what I saw, though at the time I had him more in the 15-30 range in my head.

Do you feel like there’s anyone who was still available who may have been a smarter pick? Or maybe better asked this way – do you think it’s a reach at #10, assuming they get no savings, (which I have assumed even though some have not)?

First Rounder Cornelius "Corn Dog" Randolph - Photo Credit to Michael Leff

First Rounder Cornelius “Corn Dog” Randolph – Photo Credit to Michael Leff – Nickname Credit to Me. If you thought of that one already, it was independent inspiration. I’m no nickname thief.

Of the guys left, I would have preferred Allard, Whitley, Newman, Plummer and maybe Clark, just based on my own board, but if I needed to make an argument for Randolph over each one of those guys I could. That’s just how razor thin the margins are between all those guys. Kiley (McDaniel of FanGraphs) saw him a lot this spring and had him ranked 10th, I believe. So, even if I wouldn’t have taken him, I don’t think it’s a reach. And no, he’s not signing for under slot. (Note: He wound up signing for slot, $3,231,300). People who said he was going to sign for a savings sound to me like they started following the draft the weekend before it started. Randolph’s camp has been floating big numbers all spring.

And do you have anything to say about Randolph’s defense?

He’s not going to stay at short. Best case scenario there is third base, and that’s where I think he ends up. The hands, feet and arm are enough, even if it’s not great.

The club has indicated they are going to play him in left field, likely at Williamsport, (this is muddied by the fact that he is going to the complex at Clearwater first – he might wind up playing in the GCL for a while). Does that sound to you like they have no faith in his infield defense? 

It tells me that they probably think his bat is advanced enough that they don’t want to slow it down by having him work on his defense. But yes, it also probably means they considered him a left fielder all along, though they announced him as a shortstop on draft day. It also means that I know where my first stop will be when I’m back home in PA in late July. (I’m crossing my fingers for Eric that he’s there in time for this trip.)

On second rounder Scott Kingery – I’ve seen some talk about him making it through the minors very quickly. What’s his realistic injury-free MLB ETA?

Kingery I’ve seen a ton all spring, and I think he could hit at Double-A right now. He does a lot of things only elite hitters do in the box with both his hands and lower half and I think he’s an easy future 60 hitter. I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets a taste in 2016, though 2017 is perfectly reasonable.

Do you have any comments about his defense? Any idea on polish on the base paths, or how much value can he add with his legs?

He’s a 70 runner who is going to be plus at second base and could probably play CF if he needed to . I know guys who think he has the arm for short and another who wants to see him catch, but I’d just throw him out at second base and let him rake. No reason to to slow his bat down by asking him to learn something that new.

The Luke Williams pick seems to have caught many by surprise. Any thoughts on this third round pick and whether it was a reach?

The Williams pick I was not a fan of. He’s all projection without the present tools to justify a selection that early and I don’t even think he has the actions to stay on the dirt. My guess is, they liked Williams and could have gotten him later but it would have been for over slot, and waiting on him would have mucked up their plans for Greg Pickett.

Big Ol' Kyle Martin - Photo Credit to The State Newspaper in Columbia, SC

Big Ol’ Kyle Martin – Photo Credit to The State Newspaper in Columbia, SC

Fourth Round pick Kyle Martin seems to certainly be a slot move – The club only saved about 25% on a similar pick a few years back in Chris Serritella, who’s since been released. If you were making this pick, how much would you be offering this type of player at this spot?

Martin is probably going to get something close to $100k, and if I were moving money via senior signs, that’s what I’d be offering, especially a 1B-only, pull power bat like Martin. Those guys are a dime a dozen, though the Phillies have a good track record of getting the most out of guys like this. (Martin wound up getting $200k, still about a 60% savings over the near $0.5M slot).

Any insight on fifth rounder Bailey Falter? Scouting Head Johnny Almaraz seems to like the pick a lot. Seems like the kind of guy who will take a long time to move up the ranks…not unexpected from a fifth round HS hurler.

Falter I like, and he’s a nice fifth round flier. Tall, loose, projectable, the delivery is clean. There were a lot of guys like that in this draft, but Falter was throwing in the mid to upper 80s instead of the upper 80s to low 90s. He doesn’t have great arm acceleration so you hope that comes with strength and he’s also probably going to have to see considerable changeup development because righties were picking up the ball out of his hand in showcase events.

And round six and seven were college arms – Gilbert and Leftwich. Gilbert seems to have the better chance to stick in a rotation (probably helped him go 30 picks earlier).

Gilbert is a fastball/changeup lefty but the breaking ball isn’t viable. Too easy to ID out of his hand. Leftwich is 88-90, really does it easy, fringe slider.

And Leftwich is a bloodlines guy – how much weight do clubs really give to bloodlines? Does it help get a focused scouting eye on a guy more than it ultimately helps any opinion of his game?

Tony Graffanino For Some Reason - Looks Like He's Golfing.

Tony Graffanino From His Twitter – Looks Like He’s Golfing. Wonder If He’s Any Good. Sometimes I Think All Baseball Players Would Be Pretty Good Golfers, Since They’re All High Level Athletes, But I Bet Some Of Them Really Stink.

Bloodlines matter at the onset of the process, but once you hit pro ball it’s sink or swim based on performance alone. If a scout tells me Tony Graffanino‘s kid is on a team in Scottsdale, I need to go, because he’s got big leaguer blood in him. Scouts are constantly looking at parents, even if they’re not former athletes, to try to get a feel for how the kid’s body is going to develop.

And finally, let’s get into eighth rounder Greg Pickett. You tweeted that you thought he was going to sign. Without knowing his bonus, do you have any inkling of what he was asking for, and what you think he’s going to actually get from the Phils? Beyond that, tell me what you think of his bat in general? 

So we know Pickett’s bonus now and it’s $350k (about twice slot for the pick). I love the power projection but beyond that, there’s nothing else I’m particularly fond of. I saw Pickett during showcase work and in March and have real questions about his athleticism and feel to hit. He’s just a big, stiff kid. Certainly it’s not a bad thing that the Philies got themselves a high-upside lottery ticket, it’s just not one I’d play.

Care to rank best tools of the draft?

Best Fastball: Bailey Falter, not now but at maturity

Best Secondary: Tyler Gilbert (Changeup)

Best Command: Probably Luke Leftwich

Best Hit: Scott Kingery

Best Power Now: Kyle Martin

Best Power Future: Greg Pickett

Speed: Mark Laird (Round 9)

Best Glove: Josh Tobias (Round 10)

Again, a big thanks to Eric. You can follow him on Twitter: @longenhagen. You can follow me on Twitter: @bxe1234. You can follow Tony Graffanino on Twitter: @TonyGraffanino.

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5 comments

  1. 100Bucks

    June 19, 2015 04:58 PM

    Thanks for the article. The part about Kingery being a serious 2B and MLB hitter by 2017 is very exciting.
    I don’t care how many games they win in 2016-2017 but I want to see a lineup of young players having fun and playing together. the great teams that achieve do so with enthusiasm. And, they are more fun to watch.

  2. Dan K.

    June 19, 2015 10:25 PM

    It’s really nice to see your thoughts once again. I enjoy your input a great deal, but I just outright refuse to give money to ESPN. I just hate them as a company.

    So while I hope they go under (which I know they won’t…), I hope you will be very successful.

    Thanks for all the information.

  3. Romus

    June 20, 2015 11:45 AM

    Interesting…he doesn’t have Randolph ranked anywhere at tops in ‘best tools of the draft’ category.
    Randolph must be second in most of them I would think.

    • Romus

      June 20, 2015 11:46 AM

      Most of the hitters category I meant to write.

  4. lew

    June 22, 2015 02:19 PM

    Is randolph going to be the second coming of jeff jackson anthony hewitt larry green, or of quinn, crawford?

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