Some impressed with Phillies' draft picks

First pick Shane Watson has a high upside, an expert said.
First pick Shane Watson has a high upside, an expert said. (                  Four Seam Images)
Posted: June 11, 2012

The Phillies obviously liked their draft, but so did an impartial expert - Baseball America's executive editor Jim Callis.

The Phillies surrendered their first-round pick for signing closer Jonathan Papelbon. They did pick up two supplemental picks, No. 40 and No. 54, for losing free agents Ryan Madson to Cincinnati and Raul Ibanez to the Yankees.

"For not having a first-round pick, I like their draft," said Callis, whose organization scrutinizes and reports on baseball at every level. "Having those extra [supplemental] picks is what really saved them."

Their first two picks were high school righthanders, Shane Watson, of Lakewood, Calif., at No. 40, and Mitch Gueller, of Chehalis, Wash.

This marked the fifth year in a row that the Phillies have selected a high school player with their first pick.

"Watson could have gone in the first round and has high upside," Callis said. "Mitch Gueller had first-round interest too and he really rose up the draft charts at the end of the season."

Callis also said he was impressed with Alec Rash, a high school pitcher from Iowa whom the Phillies selected in the second round with the 95th overall pick.

Callis thinks a number of college players were interesting draft choices, including Purdue third baseman Cameron Perkins, a sixth-round pick and 218th overall selection, who batted .355 with nine home runs and 61 RBIs.

"He was taken in a good spot and was one of the better college hitters," Callis said.

Among the other choices he likes is 6-foot-3 University of Texas junior lefthander Hoby Milner, a seventh-round pick and 248th overall selection. His father, Brian, was a catcher who played in two major- league games with the Toronto Blue Jays in 1978.

"If he fills out he could be something," Callis said. "He has a really good curveball."

Among those to watch, Callis said, is 6-3 righthander Kevin Brady of Clemson, a 10th-round pick and 338th overall selection.

"Kevin Brady was a guy who had some health issues, but he touches 95 and shows good secondary pitches," said Callis, who also provided analysis for MLB's draft coverage.

Overall, he likes what the Phillies did.

"They went for high-ceiling guys early, and with the new draft system you have to take high-school guys early," Callis said, referring to new penalties this year for teams paying over MLB's assigned bonus pool. "They got some good college picks."

New deadline

Another significant new draft rule is that players must sign by the July 13 deadline. In previous years the date was in the middle of August.

In the past, many of the top prospects wouldn't sign until the deadline and thus not get a chance to compete in that current minor-league season. Now players, even those who sign at the deadline, will have time to play in the minors.

"I think it's huge and it works for everybody," said Phillies assistant general manager Marti Wolever. "It works for us, for them, for the college coaches who lose players to the draft, giving them a chance to sign players to make up for the ones they lost in the draft."

What Wolever likes most is that it simply speeds up a process that he felt had become too slow.

"It forces you to make a decision and not drag it out, and I am all in favor of it," he said "In fact, if they wanted to move it up more, I'd be in favor of that."

Doing all-Wright

Lefthander Austin Wright, an eighth-round selection in the 2011 draft out of Mississippi, entered the weekend 6-0 with a 3.34 ERA for Clearwater after spending last year at Williamsport and Lakewood. He turns 23 in September.

"Coming into spring training we were thinking Lakewood, but felt what we saw in the spring, he was ready for the challenge," said Joe Jordan, the Phillies' director of player development. "He's a big, strong lefthander with an above-average arm and a plus breaking ball, and he has really done well."

Lone all-star

Righthander Colin Kleven was the only Lakewood player named to the South Atlantic League all-star team. The all-star game will be June 19 in Charleston, S.C.

Kleven is 3-5 with a 3.90 ERA in 11 starts. The 6-6 Kleven was a 33d-round draft choice of the Phillies in 2009 out of R.E. Mountain High School in British Columbia.

Valle soaring

Phillies top catching prospect Sebastian Valle has been in a good groove of late.

In his last 11 appearances entering the weekend, Valle was 14 for 43 (.325) with four home runs and 12 RBIs, improving his batting average to .253.

Contact Marc Narducci at 856-779-3225, or on Twitter @sjnard.


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