We are just two days away from the MLB draft, in which the Phillies pick earlier than they have in 11 years. In the days leading up to the draft, we’ll break down the top projected talent expected to go in the first round, with help from MLB draft experts Jonathan Mayo (MLB.com) and Keith Law (ESPN.com).
First up: Pitchers
Mark Appel, RHP (6-5, 215, Stanford)
The consensus is that Appel is the top available player in the country.
Appel was selected eighth overall in last year’s draft by the Pirates, but decided to play his senior season at Stanford. Appel was 18-9 with a 3.22 ERA in his first three years with the Cardinal, and has pitched even better during his senior year.
ESPN’s Keith Law calls Appel “clearly the draft’s top talent,” and MLB.com draft expert Jonathan Mayo agrees that he has top-of-the-rotation potential.
Jonathan Gray, RHP (6-4, 239, Oklahoma)
If Appel is everyone’s No. 1, Gray is their No. 2.
Gray has what Mayo describes as a “plus-plus fastball,” one that reaches triple digits. Gray hasn’t been successful as long as Appel has, however.
Kohl Stewart, LHP (6-3, 190, St. Pius X High School – Houston)
Thought to be the top high school arm in the country, Stewart has already committed to Texas A&M as a quarterback. But his future as a lefty flamethrower looks more promising,
Stewart throws in the mid-90s with sharp breaking balls, but as Mayo puts it, he’s more a thrower than a pitcher. That is not at all uncommon of pitchers coming out of high school.
Trey Ball, LHP/OF (6-6, 180, New Castle High School – Indiana)
Law has Ball ranked 14th overall, while Mayo has him eighth. It is unclear what teams will see Ball as, a pitcher or outfielder. Law writes that Ball is a top-20 talent as a rightfielder or as a lefty who ratchets it up to the mid-90s.
Mayo compares Ball’s offensive and outfield ability to former All-Star Shawn Green.
Braden Shipley, RHP (6-3, 190, Nevada)
Mayo has him ninth, Law has him sixth. The 21-year-old throws in the high-90s, but Law worries that he doesn’t get enough swings and misses on it.
Mayo has Shipley in his second tier of college pitchers.
Ryne Stanek, RHP (6-4, 180, Arkansas)
There is some concern over the moving parts in his delivery and his overall command, but Stanek is another youngster with a plus fastball in the mid-90s. Law opines that his consistent slide down draft boards is due to poor performances based off of questionable pitch selection.
He ranks 12th on Mayo’s board and 13th with Law.
Sean Manaea, LHP (6-5, 215, Indiana State)
Law calls him the draft’s top left-handed pitching prospect. Not hard to believe after he went 5-1 with a 1.22 ERA in the hyper-competitive Cape Cod League in 2012.
There are health concerns with Manaea’s hip, but both outlets have him going in the top-15.
Marco Gonzales, LHP (6-1, 185, Gonzaga)
Now we’re getting into the area where the Phillies pick. Mayo has Gonzales ranked 14th and Law has him 23rd.
Law calls Gonzales “as safe a pick as you can make,” but questions his upside. Mayo points out his versatility as a solid hitter, and his plus-plus changeup.
The Phillies tend to go for players with tremendous upside in the early rounds, so Gonzales might not be too high on their list.
Alex Gonzalez, RHP (6-2, 190, Oral Roberts)
Another college arm Law and Mayo rate differently. He’s No. 31 on Mayo’s board but No. 16 on Law’s.
Law loves his deep repertoire and ability to induce grounders, but Mayo wonders if he can develop the secondary stuff enough to avoid being a late-inning reliever.
Chris Anderson, RHP (6-4, 225, Jacksonville)
Mayo has him 16th, right where the Phillies pick, but Law has Anderson ranked 25th because of deterioration during the season. His fastball and his performance suffered as the season went on, Law writes, perhaps due to over-use.
Still, Mayo believes in his early dominance as a junior and writes that “there might not have been another college arm who shot up Draft boards more.”