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.