Friday, June 10, 2016

Phillies Focus On The Draft

GAME RECAP: No Game Yesterday
The Phillies actually got a pretty convenient day off as it allowed them to focus exclusively on the draft for which they held the #1 overall selection.

  • Expect Phillies first baseman Tommy Joseph to be back in the lineup. Ryan Howard started Tuesday and Wednesday, but Howard went 0-for-3 with three strikeouts Wednesday against the Cubs. Joseph has supplanted Howard as the team's primary first baseman, hitting .311 (19-for-61) with two doubles, five home runs and eight RBIs in 19 games.
  • Phillies setup man Hector Neris had a 1.29 ERA through May 30, but he has a 9.82 ERA in his last five appearances.
  • Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos falls just short of qualifying for the batting average leaders, but if he did, Ramos would lead all Major League catchers in average (.392), slugging percentage (.544) and RBIs (33) with the fewest strikeouts (21).

Jeremy Hellickson has been the solid veteran the Phillies needed him to be in their rotation this season. He enters Friday night's series opener at Nationals Park at 4-3 with a 3.80 ERA in 12 starts this season. Hellickson is 2-1 with a 2.89 ERA in his previous six starts, which includes a strong performance against the Nats on May 30 at Citizens Bank Park. Hellickson allowed three hits and one run and struck out eight in seven innings in a 4-3 loss. Right-hander Stephen Strasburg (9-0, 2.85) will start for the Nationals, who are coming off a nine-game, 11-day road trip. Strasburg is riding a personal 12-game winning streak dating to 2015, the longest streak in D.C. baseball history since Walter Johnson's 13-game streak from July 15-Sept. 22, 1924.


Phillies Put Mickey On A Mantle – Mickey Moniak considers Mickey Mantle his favorite baseball player, but not because they share a name. Moniak, whom the Phillies selected on Thursday with the first overall pick in the 2016 Draft, simply loves the Hall of Fame outfielder. The Phillies hope Moniak will be their next great outfielder. The 6-foot-2, 185-pound left-handed hitter from La Costa Canyon (Calif.) High School is expected to begin that journey shortly. It is likely the Phils and Moniak, 18, reached a verbal agreement shortly before the Draft, which is why Moniak said in a conference call with reporters that he expects to sign "as soon as possible." "I'm just ready to get the professional career started and hopefully get up to Philadelphia as fast as I can," said Moniak, who committed to UCLA along with second-round pick Kevin Gowdy, a right-hander. Moniak's stock started to rise last summer and continued to rise through the spring. He hit .476 with 12 triples, seven home runs, 46 RBIs and a .921 slugging percentage in his senior year. The Phillies scouted Moniak extensively, with everybody from Pat Gillick to Charlie Manuel, two of the club's senior advisors, meeting with him on more than one occasion. More than 20 scouting reports over the past year from the Phillies culminated with Moniak and his family and friends watching the Draft as his aunt's home. The household erupted with cheers as MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred announced Moniak's name live on MLB Network. Moniak's cousin immediately handed him a Phils cap. "The No.1 pick has always been a dream," Moniak said. "Up until the point where the Commissioner said my name, it was all a mystery. When it happened, it was unbelievable." Moniak is most often compared to Marlins outfielder Christian Yelich. He is a talented hitter who possesses gap power and is an above-average runner who has the potential to be a Gold Glove-caliber center fielder. Moniak is not a big guy, so scouts wonder if he will hit for power in the big leagues. Phillies amateur scouting director Johnny Almaraz said he thinks Moniak will hit 15-22 homers per season in the big leagues. "I think you'll have a Gold Glove center fielder who will hit in the middle of the lineup and be a leader on the team," Almaraz said. Moniak said he is committed to putting on more weight. He said doing so helped in the past year; he hit no home runs as a junior before hitting seven as a senior. "He was No. 1 on my list -- he was the best player in the country," Almaraz said. "There was no projection with Mickey Moniak. He possesses the ability that a lot of college players don't possess. He can run. He can throw. He can hit. His abilities are superior, and that's why we took him." Moniak's father, Matt, played college baseball at San Diego State. His grandfather, Bill, played five years in the Minor Leagues and received some hitting instruction from Hall of Fame outfielder Ted Williams. "The main thing he taught me that Ted taught him was mostly about approach, what you're looking to do at the plate," Moniak said of his grandfather. Moniak is the sixth outfielder to be selected first overall since 1986. The previous five are Bryce Harper (2010), Delmon Young ('03), Josh Hamilton (1999), Darin Erstad ('95) and Ken Griffey Jr. ('87). The Phillies selected Pat Burrell with the first overall pick in 1998, although he was officially listed as a third baseman. The Draft continues on Friday with Rounds 3-10. The preview show begins at 12:30 p.m. ET, with exclusive coverage of Rounds 3-10 beginning at 1 p.m. ET.

Good Follow Up – It is safe to say the Phillies selected Santa Barbara (Calif.) High School right-hander Kevin Gowdy on Thursday night in the second round (42nd overall) of the 2016 Draft because they expect to sign him. Like No.1 overall pick Mickey Moniak, Gowdy has committed to UCLA. But the Phillies are expected to sign Moniak for less than the $9,015,000 allotted for the top pick, which will give the club more money to pay Gowdy to convince him to skip college. "I think we have a pretty good chance to sign both of these guys," Phillies general manager Matt Klentak said. "But, again, we won't know until there is ink on a piece of paper." ranked Gowdy, 18, as the No. 37 prospect in the Draft. He went 4-1 with a 1.59 ERA with 93 strikeouts and just five walks in 56 2/3 innings. Gowdy's fastball sits in the 90- to 93-mph range, but with his frame, scouts think his velocity will improve. He also has a good breaking ball and a good feel for his changeup. "He's a young right-handed pitcher who has the ability to command the baseball at such a young age," Phillies amateur scouting director Johnny Almaraz said. "He has an above-average fastball and good breaking stuff. I'm a believer you can't teach somebody how to pitch. He's got that innate ability to pitch and get hitters out, and that's what we want in this organization, frontline pitchers." Gowdy was a 2016 Rawlings-Perfect Game First Team All-American and a member of USA Baseball's 18U National team. The Draft continues on Friday with Rounds 3-10. The preview show begins at 12:30 p.m. ET, with exclusive coverage of Rounds 3-10 beginning at 1 p.m. ET. The Phillies' first selection will be in the third round (78th overall).

A Little Wager – For a lucky few ballplayers, being selected in the MLB Draft is one of the best moments of their lives. And being selected No. 1 overall, well, that's a dream come true -- a culmination of years and years of hard work, and an introduction into one of baseball's most exclusive fraternities. Just look at the joy on California prep outfielder Mickey Moniak's face when the Phillies selected him with the top pick in the 2016 Draft. It's a moment to savor, to share with those close to you ... a moment to make a bet involving a tattoo on your posterior. When the Phillies made Moniak the top overall pick in the 2016 Draft, there was far more riding on it than just the future of a career and a franchise. According to Moniak, he and his childhood friend Ethan Abrams had made a little wager: If Moniak was drafted in the top 10, Abrams would have to get Moniak's name tattooed on his rear end. And don't worry, Moniak absolutely intends to hold his friend to it. (Although if Abrams is eventually drafted in the first 20 rounds, Moniak has to respond with a tattoo of his own, so maybe don't gloat too much yet, Mickey.)

Today In Phils History – There are some big numbers to consider today. In 1972, Hank Aaron connected off Wayne Twitchell for the 649th homerun of his career passing Willie Mays for 2nd all time (he also tied Gil Hodge’s NL record with his 14th grand slam on the same swing). 2 years later, Mike Schmidt obliterated a pitch which in just about any park would have been a homerun but having hit the speaker hanging from the rook of the Astrodome (117 feet up and 300 feet from home plate) he had to settle for a single as the ball bounced back into play. In 1981, Pete Rose tied Stan Musial’s NL hits record (3,630) with single off Nolan Ryan. And, finally, 2 years ago today Jonathan Papelbon tied Trevor Hoffman as the second fastest closer in major league history to reach 300 career saves in 552 appearances.

The Phillies are currently 29-31 this season putting them on pace to beat most preseason predictions. The Phillies finished the spring exceeding most expectations compiling a record of 15-11-3 (18-11-3 if you include the exhibition games against Reading and the University of Tampa). All time, the Phillies are 42-53-0 on this day. I expect the Phillies to finish in the bottom half of the division but not last in the NL East by finishing the season with a 77-85 record. Let the rebuild begin!

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