The Phillies have a lot of young pitchers working their way through the minor league system. The strength is centered at AA right now, but there are young pitchers even below that level that are thought to have promising futures in the big leagues.
What the Phillies system desperately lacks in a big time power hitting prospect. Once Ryan Howard made it to the majors, the pickings got slim for power throughout the system. Coming into Tuesday's games, Brian Burgamy, John Castellano and Carlos Ruiz lead the organization's minor leaguers with seven homeruns a piece. Burgamy and Castellano aren't seen as true prospects over the long term, although Ruiz figures on at least a bench role with the Phillies in the near future. The Phillies four full-season teams have combined to hit just 113 homeruns this season. Get the picture?
The Phillies need offense and they'll look to get it early.
Unless one of the top flight pitchers somehow fall all the way to number 18 where the Phillies make their first pick, the odds are they'll go for offense. Big offense.
Look for the Phillies to target University of Texas outfielder Drew Stubbs with their first pick. Stubbs would be a perfect fit. He's a right-handed, five-tool player, who has the ability to develop even more power as he continues to develop and refine his stroke. The fact that he hits right-handed is a plus, since lefties Chase Utley and Ryan Howard figure to be in the Phillies lineup for a long time to come. Stubbs has some minor holes in his swing and scouts are divided on how productive he could be at the major league level, but most believe he'll develop into a strong hitter. Comparisons to Mike Cameron have been brought up surrounding Stubbs. Of course, it's also possible that Stubbs, who was drafted by the Astros last year, but instead returned to Texas, will be gone before the Phillies even pick.
The Phillies will consider high school catcher Hank Conger, who is a switch-hitter, but they've pretty well stocked up on catchers and it's going to be hard to pass up on Stubbs if he's there. If Stubbs is gone, Conger is a good choice, but could still get passed over.
If the Phillies want good offense and want it at a "need" position, they'll drop Conger down their chart. Also dropping would be third base prospect Chris Marrero and third base prospect Billy Rowell. Rowell will be tempting, because he's from the Phillies backyard (Bishop Eustace High School), but there are some concerns over whether he could move to another position, namely shortstop. The Phillies went with a homegrown third baseman last year in Mike Costanzo and they're very happy with his development. There is shortstop Kyle Drabek, son of former major league pitcher Doug Drabek, but he's had some off the field issues and scouts differ on whether he's a better prospect at short or as a pitcher.
Other possibilities would include outfielder Matt Sulentic, who can also play at shortstop, but has a commitment to attent Texas A&M and could be a tough sign. Another shortstop option would be Kent State's Emmanuel Burris. Other outfielders would include Jared Mitchell, who appears headed to LSU and Los Angeles high schooler D'Arby Myers.
As for those pitchers that the Phillies will watch. Washington's Tim Lincecum is projected to go in the first five or, at worst, ten picks and is unlikely to be there at number 18. The Phillies love Villanova's Kevin Mulvey and they'll watch Jeff Samardzija (Notre Dame), Brett Sinkbeil (Missouri State) and Pedro Beato (St.Petersburg Junior College).
The Phillies insist that their first pick will simply be based on taking the best available player available. As much as they love pitching, there is that glaring, hard to ignore lack of power that the Phillies will definitely need to address in this year's draft.
The Phillies are becoming famous for drafting young pitchers early, although last season, they went for offense with Mike Costanzo. So, do they continue on the offensive trend or do they return to their draft roots by taking one of the young, available pitchers? Here's what we know.