New Phillies draft strategy: pick players who are already good

New Phillies draft strategy: pick players who are already good

The MLB draft is this Thursday, and the Philadelphia Phillies own the seventh-overall pick—their highest since 2001. Clayton Kershaw was selected seventh overall. Troy Tulowitzki was selected seventh overall.

The Phils haven’t had much luck in the first round of the draft over the past decade though, as evidenced by the current state of the franchise. Joe Savery was taken in the first round in 2007. He’s the last Phillies first-rounder to so much as reach the big leagues.

Some of that is partially a result of circumstance—Philadelphia did field one of the best teams in baseball for five years. Whatever the reasons, the Fightins desperately need this to turn around.

In an in-depth piece for CSNPhilly.com, Jim Salisbury writes that the organization may approach this critical draft with some fresh philosophies. For example, scouting director Marti Wolever explained how the Phillies have been evaluating outfielders in the past compared to the way they might do things this year.

“We’ve drafted some high-ceiling guys,” Wolever said. “We’ve had trouble keeping them healthy for whatever reason. It’s a real long process, especially for the high school kids. It’s a long, tedious process and we need to do a better job with that.”

A better job where?

“Well, I think we need to try to single out maybe some more advanced hitters, per se, and try to focus on that versus maybe the high-ceiling, what-they-could-possibly-be player,” Wolever said. “Take a good look at what they are right now versus what they might be down the road.

“I think it has come to that all the way through baseball. You’re spending a lot of money, you’d like a little return on your money.”

So in a manner of speaking, the Phillies have been drafting—to use Salisbury’s words— “top athletes with the skills to become all-stars if the development process went right” instead of “more proven players.” Well, that strategy sounds highly speculative.

I’m no baseball scout, and the MLB draft is a bit of a different animal… but I have to admit, I’m all for drafting the players who are already good over the ones who might be.

>> Phillies take new philosophy into crucial draft [CSN]

Steve Mason rediscovers himself in New York just before Flyers return

Steve Mason rediscovers himself in New York just before Flyers return

It had been a while since Steve Mason saw himself.

Walking into the Barclays Center on Sunday, the Flyers’ goalie was 0-6-2 with a 4.03 goals-against average and .844 save percentage over his last 10 appearances (see more recent Flyers numbers and stats).

A far cry of how Mason truly sees himself in net.

But heading into Wednesday’s rivalry clash with the Rangers, Mason will have something to build on, something he couldn’t say since Dec. 21 - the last previous time he had earned a victory. He’s fresh off his first win in over a month, a massive one for Mason considering all the key moments on Sunday the Flyers hope invigorate his confidence.

Without numerous clutch stops from their goalie, the Flyers don’t come back from two goals down to beat the Islanders, 3-2, in overtime. Mason made four saves  — three on four-time All-Star John Tavares — in just over a minute of a third-period power play. The Flyers ended up having to kill two New York man advantages in the final 10 minutes of regulation in order to force overtime.

The extra session is when Mason was just as good, if not better, stoning Tavares on a breakaway attempt that had game-winner written all over it. Mason made four saves in overtime after 13 in the third period.

“I was happy with the way that, personally, this game went for myself,” Mason said Sunday. “It’s been a tough stretch and this is more the type of game that I expect of myself. In recent games, the team was lacking the big saves and tonight it shows what kind of difference it can make.”

It was a massive performance heading into a massive three-game stretch against the Rangers, Maple Leafs and Hurricanes.

“Mase made some huge saves for us,” Simmonds said. “It allowed us to get back in that game.

“It’s not just Mase [with the] ups and downs. Everyone in here has been kind of fighting it and squeezing sticks pretty tight. That one felt good and I think Mase led the charge for sure.”

Mason understands just one game doesn’t turn around a season.

“It’s nice to feel good after a game,” Mason said. “At the same time, whether you’re winning or losing, you have to have a short mindset and get ready for the next one.”

That brings the Flyers to Madison Square Garden Wednesday to face the Rangers, who they’ve lost five straight games to dating back to last season. Mason hasn’t had much luck against New York this season, allowing seven goals in two losses with an .860 save percentage. However, in 2015-16, Mason put up a 1.74 goals-against average and .941 save percentage in five games against the Rangers.

“That’s going to be a tough game going into MSG,” Mason said Tuesday (see story).

The good thing: Mason was in New York two days ago, remembering what he can be.

Manute Bol's 7-foot, 17-year-old son dominates in HS season debut

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Manute Bol's 7-foot, 17-year-old son dominates in HS season debut

Bol Bol, the 17-year-old son of the late Manute Bol, is a top high school basketball prospect with offers from schools like Arizona, Kansas and Creighton. This highlight tape should give you an idea why.
 
Bol, whose father played in the NBA for parts of 12 seasons, including 215 games for the Sixers, now attends the famed Mater Dei High School in California and played in his first game of the season this past weekend. Listed as the No. 16 overall prospect in the 2018 recruiting class by Scout, Bol started his season off with a big 21-point, 10-rebound effort.
 
Take a look at the highlight tape from the 6-foot-11 Bol and expect to see him carry on his father’s legacy on the court at a major NCAA college basketball program soon.