A Belated Look At The 2016 Draft, ft. Eric Longenhagen
A couple weeks back I asked Eric Longenhagen for his opinion of the Phils 2016 Draft. Since so much has been said already in regards to first overall pick, California prep center fielder Mickey Moniak, and since Eric wrote about him in his post-draft analysis at ESPN, I’ll just link you to that here.
Beyond that, we got into questions about the top six picks, best tools, drafting mentors/coaching candidates and more. Hope you enjoy this belated look at the Phils 2016 draft. (This is the part where I decided not to blame our nine-month old baby for my procrastination. Though really, it’s pretty much ALL HER FAULT. Please don’t tell her I said that).
Brad: Is Moniak/Kevin Gowdy (rd 2) about as well as you think the Phils could have done with their top two picks and no supplemental round selections?
Eric: I think there were a few other players they would have preferred at 42 (like Rutherford and Wentz) but that Gowdy was the best they could do given their circumstances. They were really boxed in by where the Braves, Reds and Padres picked. I think they did as well as they could have.
B: Were you in charge, would you have been pushing hard to get a comp pick in trade? If I’m running the draft from 1.1 with less money than the guy picking behind me, I can’t imagine not walking into the executive washroom and setting my self on fire for another pick. Maybe not my whole self. At least the hair. (It’s taking its leave soon enough, in any case).
E: If all it would have taken was something like what ATL did with the Matusz deal, then yes I would have been all over that. As long as ownership was cool with it. That’s the kind of thing that GMs normally need permission to do.
B: Do you have anything to say about Moniak’s power potential? Scouting Director Johnny Almaraz said he expects maybe 18-20 homer power. Is he just sugar coating the least attractive aspect of this player?
E: I don’t know if I’d go so far as to say I “expect” 18+ homers but I don’t think it’s impossible. Yes, I think Almaraz is candying that particular tool, but I don’t blame him for doing it.
B: On Moniak and Gowdy, where do you see their realistic injury-free MLB ETAs?
E: Moniak: Year of Trumpwinter, Gowdy: Trumpspringa Two. Um.. 2020 and 2021 respectively.
B: More on Gowdy – have you seen a lot of him and do you like the pick? He got about #9 overall money. What’s his ceiling and most likely out pitch?
E: I’ve seen Gowdy three times and think he’s okay. He was only about 86-90 for me in Arizona during an early spring start and that has colored my opinion of him, though it was almost certainly his worst start of the year. He’s usually sitting in the low-90s and up to about 94. The slider is already above average, usually 83-85, and is a little short but it breaks late and down. He’s going to miss bats with it in the dirt a lot of times and I think pro catching will help him gain confidence is burying it down there, though the kid who caught him this year did a hell of a job.
B: Did you get a chance to see much of third round pick Cole Stobbe? I look at him as kind of a steal, and I think he’s gotten very little ink in Philly thus far.
E: I saw Stobbe over the summer and I think he was a nice pick even if it wasn’t a sexy one because he doesn’t have any plus tools. If he can somehow stay at shortstop then he’s an everyday player, and I think there’s probably about a 30% chance of that. If he doesn’t play shortstop well enough then hopefully one of the other tools takes a step forward and allows him to play somewhere else. Lots of scouts who cover that area thought he was their best guy this year.
B: I know you like fourth rounder, CC pick JoJo Romero, based on your thoughts from earlier this year. How fast could he move towards the show?
E: I think his stuff would play in full-season ball right now and think you might see him reach Reading by 2018, at which point it will be time to see if that stuff plays against upper level hitters. He might be forced to make some adjustments there, which clouds his ETA because you don’t know for sure he’ll be able to do it.
B: I believe you put a #4 ceiling on him. Does he have a realistic floor in a big league bullpen?
E: Irvin supposedly showed better stuff late in the year after I had seen him, but his stuff has been so up and down since he returned from injury last year that I would have just been out on him on draft day. He was 86-90 for me this year, fringe secondaries, good breaking ball command. Martinelli I love. Good defensive outfielder, might hit enough to play everyday when the bat and glove are viewed together.
B: Do you have anything to say about rounds 11-13 and 22, the four prep picks the Phils signed from Day 3? Per BA, Josh Stephen (11) got $600k, Rd 12-13 Justin Miller and Andrew Brown got $100k each, while Kyle Young (22) got $225k.
E: Stephen is easily the best of that group. He has some bat-to-ball skills and is a solid athlete but there isn’t a whole lot else there. He was a nice complimentary piece to the draft class but barring a stark development that the industry doesn’t foresee, he’s probably only a fringe regular at best. In round 11 though, that’s a pretty good pick.
B: Anyone from Day 3 strike you as a someone who could really make some noise given the right amount of time and development?
E: Stephen, or maybe (18th rounder Jake) Kelzer, since guys that size (listed 6’8” 230lbs) usually figure things out a little later.
B: Can you rank the best tools of the Phils draft?
Best Fastball: Gowdy
Best Secondary: Gowdy’s slider
Best Command: Irvin
Best Control: Gowdy
Best Hit: Moniak
Best Power Now: Stobbe (5)
Best Power Future: Stobbe (probably still a 5)
Speed: Moniak but Tyler Kent (rd 26) runs well, too
Best Glove: Moniak
B: Third-Day Guy with the best chance to move quickly towards the majors (I always assume this will be a bullpen arm):
E: The sidearmer, Tyler Frohwirth (rd 31)
B: And a thing I have been mulling for a while now, for which maybe you can offer your take – I often wonder if clubs draft for their future coaching staff, (have never heard anyone suggest this), but it does seem they pick at least mentor types to be org guys for a while, as opposed to just filling roster holes for the low minors. Does that happen regularly and how high in the draft does it start?
E: This kind of thing definitely happens and I know from being around young players and staff in Extended Spring Training that clubs already begin discussing who would make for good instructors when kids are around 20-22. I don’t know what round teams start targeting guys that they want in the org just for makeup purposes, and it probably changes draft-to-draft, team-to-team depending on what kind of infrastructure they already have in place or what they need to fill rosters at lower levels, but this is definitely something that goes on in the draft room.
Many thanks to Eric for his time. You can see his work now at FanGraphs.com