Phillies look to improve system depth
Club will eye offense, left-handers in upcoming Draft
LOS ANGELES - The Phillies have a franchise-record payroll of more than $132 million this season.
It should be higher next season, too.
It helps that the Phillies have sold more than 3 million tickets this year, but they also know they need some of their Minor League talent to start contributing in the near future. The Phillies can't sign every player at every position to multiyear, multimillion-dollar contracts. They need some relatively inexpensive players to start making playing bigger roles, too.
That is why the Draft remains very important for the Phillies, whose first pick is the 75th overall in the First-Year Player Draft.
MLB.com will offer live coverage and analysis of the entire First-Year Player Draft from June 9-11. MLB Network will broadcast the first round at 6 p.m. ET on June 9 from its Studio 42 in Secaucus, N.J., and those 32 selections also will be simulcast live on MLB.com.
Beginning with the 33rd pick, up-to-the-minute on-air coverage from the remaining rounds will shift exclusively to MLB.com, where host Vinny Micucci will be joined by MLB.com Draft expert Jonathan Mayo and Major League Scouting Bureau director Frank Marcos.
Once the first night is done, the Draft will continue with rounds 4-30, via conference call from MLB headquarters in New York, at noon on June 10. Rounds 31-50 will be on June 11, starting at 11:30 a.m.
Here's a glance at what the Phillies have in store as the First-Year Player Draft approaches:
In about 50 words
The Phillies don't pick until the second round, which means nobody really knows what is going to happen. Pitcher? Shortstop? Outfielder? Catcher? "It's quite a process to get through all the names," Phillies assistant general manager Benny Looper said. "It's hard to guess who might be available. When it comes up to our time, I think we'll take the best guy available at that point."
"We'd always like to get some more bats in the system," Phillies scouting director Marti Wolever said. "Some guys who can really swing the bat. But we've lost a few left-handed pitchers along the way and we'd like to get some left-handed pitching, too. So if we could get some offensive players and some left-handed pitchers, I think that'd be a pretty good Draft for us."
The Phillies don't have a first-round pick for the first time since 2005, when they selected third baseman Mike Costanzo in the second round. They lost this year's first-round pick to the Seattle Mariners when they signed free-agent left fielder Raul Ibanez to a three-year contract. The Phillies certainly haven't minded the trade off. Ibanez could be headed to his first All-Star Game. He currently sits second in voting among National League outfielders.
Like Wolever said, the Phillies would like to add some big bats and some left-handed starting pitching. When it comes to bats, the Phillies typically don't focus on a particular position. If the player can hit, he can hit. And they will take him, even if there is a star in the big leagues at that player's current position. That only makes sense. Even if that player has an apparent roadblock to the big leagues, things can change. The Phillies could have traded Ryan Howard, but they held onto him and eventually dealt Jim Thome instead.
The Phillies don't prescribe to the Moneyball philosophy that college players are safer picks. They will pick whomever they feel is best: high school or college. Cole Hamels and Kyle Drabek were high school players. Chase Utley and Joe Savery were college players. That philosophy has not changed. "You shrink the pool of players if you go strictly college players," Wolever said. "We've never done that, and I don't anticipate us ever doing that."
Recent top picks
2008: Anthony Hewitt, 3B. The Phillies love Hewitt's tools and makeup, but he is young and needs more seasoning. He hit just .197 with one home run and nine RBIs in 33 games last season for the rookie-level Gulf Coast League Phillies. Hewitt, who was selected 24th overall, spent a few weeks at big league Spring Training and currently is in extended spring training. He could open his season in short-season Class A Williamsport.
The Phillies only selected right-hander Vance Worley in the third round of last June's Draft, but he is already pitching in Double-A. He went 3-2 with a 2.66 ERA in 11 starts last season for Lakewood. He struck out 53 and walked just seven batters in 61 innings. He is 4-3 with a 3.14 ERA in 10 starts this season for Reading. He has struck out 44 and walked 13 in 63 1/3 innings. Cinderella story
The Phillies selected right-hander Tyler Cloyd in the 18th round last June, and he has impressed. After he went 5-4 with a 4.57 ERA at Williamsport last season, he is 6-2 with a 2.94 ERA in 11 starts for Lakewood. He has struck out 65 and walked 10 in 70 2/3 innings. The Phillies think he is a guy who could contribute at the big league level. In The Show
The Phillies have quite a bit of talent from their previous three Drafts (Michael Taylor, Brown, Knapp, Drabek, etc.), but most of them are continuing to make their way through the farm system. In fact, only right-hander Andrew Carpenter has reached the Majors from the previous three drafts. He made a spot start last month against the Nationals at Nationals Park, and he could see action again this season.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.