Phillies’ Draft: Hitters Early, Pitchers Late, Analytics Throughout

Johnny Almaraz, the Philadelphia Phillies Director of Amateur Scouting, speaks during a news conference before a baseball game against the Cincinnati Reds, Wednesday, June 3, 2015, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum) Johnny Almaraz entered the 2015 Draft with a specific plan and he believes the Phillies executed it.

Almaraz, who ran his first Draft as the Phillies’ new amateur scouting director, used 13 of the organization’s first 18 selections on hitters. He then picked 10 consecutive pitchers from the 19th to the 28th round.

“There is some offensive potential in the Draft,” Almaraz said in a telephone interview Wednesday night. “We feel there are some strong hitters there that are going to have a chance to be everyday players at the Major League level. Position players are becoming a rarity. My feeling is we can find pitching down late. So I tried to go from the 19th round on down with a bunch of pitchers.”

Here is the breakdown of Almaraz’s first Draft:

  • 27 college players.
  • 13 high school players.
  • 21 position players (nine outfielders, four shortstops, three catchers, two first baseman, two third basemen, one second baseman).
  • 19 pitchers (12 right-handers, seven left-handers).

Almaraz pointed out that most of the Phillies’ selections had good statistics at whatever level they played. He said the organization’s analytics crew played a considerable role in that.

“We combined in making decisions,” he said. “The primary focus was ability, but we looked at the metrics to help us. I’m very old school, but I am a big believer in metrics, too. It’s a piece of the puzzle for me to make decisions.”

Some of the team’s high school selections on Day 3 are going to be difficult to sign, but the Phillies plan to follow them during the summer. That group includes left-hander Will Stewart (20th round), outfielder Von Watson (29th round), left-hander Nick Fanti (31st round), right-hander Jacob Stevens (33rd round) and outfielder Ben Pelletier (34th round). Almaraz said with a surplus of money they hope to pry one or two away from their college commitments.

“Even a couple of the college guys that we’re going to see during the summer leagues,” Almaraz said. “And if we feel we need to sign them we’re going to wrap them up.”

Almaraz said the Phillies already have agreements with several players in the first 10 rounds. High school outfielder Greg Pickett (eighth round) announced on Twitter he has reached agreement. Players like second baseman Scott Kingery (second round) are almost signed, too.

“We’re just reading the fine print,” Almaraz said.

The Phillies made 30 selections Wednesday. Here are some of the more interesting ones:

  • Mt. San Antonio College (Calif.) catcher Edgar Cabral (11th round). “We feel he has a chance to become a front-line Major League catcher,” Almaraz said. “He can really catch and throw. He has some bat to him. With catchers playing every day, the guys that are extremely strong are the ones that succeed. If you don’t have much strength then your bat dwindles. But this guy is 5-foot-10, 205 pounds. He’s really strong. We think he has a chance to be a first a really good defense catcher and somebody who is going to have some offensive ability.”
  • South Dakota State center fielder Zack Coppola (13th round). He has tremendous speed. “He’s what we consider a 70 or 80 runner (on an 80 scale),” Almaraz said. “He can throw. He can really play defense. He swings the bat. He has a short swing. If he really learns to dominate to dominate both sides of the infield, he becomes that type of a threat at the top of the order. We feel really good with this kid. We feel he has a chance to be a leadoff hitter, along with (second-round pick Scott) Kingery. Kind of the same mold, but Kingery is stronger.”
  • Penn catcher Austin Bossart (14th round). “The way we developed the board, we created these lines across boards where guys beneath the lines were considered organizational players,” Almaraz said. “I avoided that. In our estimation, he is a Major League catching prospect. He’s got a really, really good arm. The batting average for Major League catchers is (.233). So if he could hit .240 or .250 we have another catching prospect who can receive at the Major League level. He was a very nice pick for us.”
  • Duke right-hander Kenny Koplove (17th round). He is a Philadelphia native. HIs brother Mike also pitched in the big leagues from 2001-07. “Kenny is anywhere from 90-94 mph,” Almaraz said. “He throws from that low angle. He’s got really hard sink, and when you have a right-hander that gives you a different look, if those guys command the baseball, they become valuable pieces at the Major League level because they give you that look. They’re really tough on righties.”

The Phillies selected four players with family ties to the organization: 35th round pick Andrew Amaro (nephew of Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr.), 38th round pick Beau Brundage (son of Triple-A Lehigh Valley manager Dave Brundage), 39th round pick Griffin Morandini (son of former Phillies second baseman Mickey Morandini) and 40th round pick Thomas McCarthy (son of Phillies broadcaster Tom McCarthy).

“We know that they’re going to go to school,” Almaraz said. “It’s always a good gesture, but they do have ability.”

Also in our Phillies’ draft coverage:

6 Comments

I hate Andrew Amaro already.

Why waste picks on players related to people in the organization, if they won’t sign or can’t play? What a waste. You never know what you’ll find. Piazza was a last round pick.
Also, why throw McCarthy a bone? He’s one of the worst broadcaster in Phillies history, and (i hope) not long for the booth.

Because all teams do it, and because those picks dont matter, they’re just filler talent for the org really. Nothing really special, getting a Piazza at that pick is winning the powerball, doesn’t happen often.

” He said the organization’s analytics crew played a considerable role in that.”

Cripes. Considering this organization has no sabermatricians and Ruben follows his gut, this is a terrifying statement.

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Just throwing a name out. Jacob Faria in Rays minors single A. SP with unbelievable stats. Playing for Charlotte Stonecrabs. These are the players we should target knowing they are already playing and have tremendous upside. Don’t take my word……check his stats at 11-1 and era and whip off the charts. Phillies need to go after these type of players, make a deal.

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