2010-19 was a mixed bag for the Philadelphia Phillies. The franchise witnessed extreme highs and lows over a tumultuous decade on the diamond. The period began with the promise of a dynasty and sustained success in the NL East. That potential turned into a big tease, a long rebuild, and renewed hope for the franchise’s future. As Phillies fans still wait for the team’s minor leagues to flourish, here is a look at a decade of cornerstones and would-be building blocks of Phillies first round draft picks:
Phillies First Round Draft Picks (2010-2019)
Player Name/First Round Draft Slot/Position
Bryson Stott, 14, SS (2019) – The Phillies have two ballyhooed shortstop prospects in high-priced international signee Luis Garcia and first-rounder Bryson Stott. It is not unusual for a team’s minor league system to be stacked at the position. Shortstops and centerfielders are the best athletes on the field and teams draft the best athletes (even the lumbering Jim Thome was drafted as a shortstop).
Amateur players frequently start in those positions before being moved around, something that may happen if Bryson Stott and Garcia progress through the system together. Stott raked at UNLV (.947 OPS) and gives the Phillies a chance to build a strong infield core. He logged an impressive .885 OPS over 48 games in his first season as a pro.
Alec Bohm, 3, 3B (2018) – Alec Bohm will likely not stick at third, but his strong bat indicates that he will be manning a corner infield position for the Phillies in future seasons. His hit tool is a logical fit with a middle lineup spot behind on base machines like Bryce Harper and Rhys Hoskins.
Bohm made The Show just a couple years after being drafted. His ability to spray the ball across the diamond has kept the Phillies in the 2020 playoff hunt. The Rookie of the Year candidate may turn out to be the best homegrown Phillies position player since Ryan Howard.
Adam Haseley, 8, OF (2017) – Adam Haseley is a big leaguer. The question for the Phillies is if he can hit enough to be a plus contributor. Defense and power are not his strong suits, but Haseley has shown some ability to hit for average and get on base.
The team has curiously turned him into a platoon player this year, something that would normally raise eyebrows if 2020 was not already an odd season for player development. Haseley would be in position to grab the centerfield job in 2021 if he could turn into an average defender, although that seems unlikely. He should be the franchise’s leftfielder if they choose to move on from Andrew McCutchen after 2021.
Mickey Moniak, 1, (2016) – Mickey Moniak has flirted with the “b” word after slow development forced him to remain in the minors for four seasons. He was not slated to make the big club this year, but a combination of injuries and pandemic roster restrictions allowed him to get a cup of coffee with the Phillies in 2020. Despite a lackluster showing, fans should remain patient with Moniak.
Given that he was drafted out of high school, it may take Moniak a little longer to put things together and hit like a first round draft pick. The troublesome aspect of the 2016 pick is that he was projected to be Steve Finley or the Marlins version of Christian Yelich. Unless he evolves into the Brewers version of Yelich, the low ceiling on a number one pick sets up Moniak to be surpassed by others in his draft class. Fellow 2016 first rounders like Kyle Lewis and Ian Anderson have already contributed at the MLB level, ramping up the pressure for the outfielder to stick with the club in 2021.
Cornelius Randolph, 10, SS (2015) – The last first round pick of GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. has yet to play above AA. Cornelius Randolph was drafted out of Griffin High School in Georgia and has not shown much in the minors. Given that the Phillies have top shortstop prospects on the way, Randolph may be out of the organization after 2020.
None of the draft picks selected immediately after Randolph have yet to make a significant impact at the big leagues yet… although one cannot help but imagine the possibilities if the Phillies had gone for pitching early on in that draft. Walker Buehler and Mike Soroka were both drafted as late or compensatory first rounders in 2015.
Aaron Nola, 7, P (2014) – The righthander out of LSU is not only the best Phillies pick of the decade, but is the team’s best homegrown pitcher since the organization drafted Cole Hamels in 2002. That may say something about Philadelphia’s inability to draft and develop pitching as much as anything, but the fact remains that Aaron Nola is a bona fide ace.
The Phillies rebuild would be in a dark place if Nola did not elevate his game after early injuries. His third-place position in the 2018 NL Cy Young voting places Nola in elite company. Only Nola, Hamels, Cliff Lee, and Roy Halladay received Cy Young votes as a Phillies pitcher in the 2010s.
Nola is also a workhorse in the modern sense of the term. He led NL pitchers in starts and batters faced in 2019. He also topped the 200-inning mark for consecutive seasons in 2018 and 2019, which is something of a rarity these days. Legitimate stars like Trea Turner and Matt Chapman emerged from MLB’s 2014 first round picks, but none have shone as brightly as Nola.
J.P. Crawford, 16, SS (2013) – The most frustrating Phillies draft pick of the decade, the slick-fielding shortstop entered the 2013 MLB draft as a highly-touted high school player. The cousin of MLB star Carl Crawford slowly progressed through the minor leagues. His defense allowed him to stick in Philadelphia’s organizational plans as his bat never developed as expected.
J.P. Crawford was traded to the Seattle Mariners in the 2018-19 offseason in the Carlos Santana-Jean Segura swap. He continues to hold down the shortstop position for Seattle despite a subpar bat. The painful near-miss of this draft is the White Sox’s selection of Tim Anderson. Chicago drafted the 2019 AL batting champion one pick after the Phillies.
Shane Watson, 40, P/Mitch Gueller, 54, P (2012) – The Phillies did not own a first-round pick in the 2012 draft, but did have two selections in the supplemental round. Ruben Amaro, Jr. used both picks to take a pair of high school righthanders. After injuries set back his career, Shane Watson was released by the Phillies in 2014 after failing a drug test for a recreational substance.
Despite an impressive 2015 season at Williamsport where Mitch Gueller posted a 2.23 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP, the pitcher suffered from a high walk rate and never advanced beyond Class A Lakewood. The Phillies released Gueller in 2016 and the pitcher began to play as wide receiver for Idaho State University. Gueller set ISU school records for longest touchdown reception (97 yarder thrown by his brother, Tanner) and career receiving yards (3,249).
Larry Greene, OF, 39 (2011) – The Phillies did not have a first round pick in 2011. The organization was able to draft another high school player with their supplemental first round draft selection after Jayson Werth signed with the Washington Nationals. The outfielder never played above A-ball. He struck out at an epic rate in the minors (304 whiffs in 242 games) and never unlocked his hit tool. Larry Greene only played three seasons in the minors and retired from pro ball at age 22.
Time to cringe: Greene was selected one pick before Red Sox All-Star Jackie Bradley, Jr. and ahead of other supplemental first rounders Michael Fulmer, Joe Musgrove, Trevor Story, and Blake Snell.
Jesse Biddle, P, 27 (2010) – The lefthander from Germantown Friends High School was drafted to pitch in front of his hometown fans, but never wore Phillies pinstripes. Poor performance and Tommy John surgery stalled Jesse Biddle’s development as a Phillies prospect. Philadelphia traded Biddle to the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2016 for Yoervis Medina.
After being designated for assignment, the Atlanta Braves claimed Biddle and the pitcher found a place in the big leagues as a reliever. His greatest success came as he notched a 3.11 ERA over 60 games in 2018. The pitcher has since bounced around with different organizations, but found an odd place in Phillies history in 2019.
Biddle gave up Bryce Harper’s first home run as a Phillie in 2019. The blast did more than send Citizens Bank Park into a frenzy. It represented a bookend of the Phillies decade that you can only find in baseball. Biddle was drafted at the height of the franchise’s glory, was unable to make the big leagues, and yielded the home run that unofficially ended the rebuild.
Phillies Draft Analysis
Phillies draft picks from 2010-2019 are neatly divided into two categories: old school and hyper-analytics. Ruben Amaro Jr. presided over six drafts that largely relied on scouting. His picks also fell into the mid-to-late slots of the first round. His predecessor, Matt Klentak, oversaw four drafts that leaned on a new age approach to pick from the top of the amateur draft.
Despite not hitting on much in his first draft, Klentak had a much higher success rate with his first round picks than Amaro. The only plus player drafted in the first round by Amaro is Aaron Nola. J.P. Crawford and Jesse Biddle both made the big leagues, but a few of Amaro’s first round draft picks never advanced beyond AA.
The inability to successfully hit on several first round draft picks (and later picks) meant that the Phillies were unable to add young talent to its aging core. Coupled with the lack of development from prospects like Domonic Brown and Cody Asche, Philadelphia’s rebuild was forced on a franchise that held onto its star players for too long. This reluctance left a bare farm system to create the next crop of young talent.
Aside from college standouts Aaron Nola and Rhys Hoskins, little came from the Amaro era of Phillies drafting that provided a positive building block for the franchise. Klentak’s more recent drafts may already be yielding better results than Amaro’s tenure. Players like Alec Bohm and Adam Haseley are proving they can stick at the big league level.
The Achilles heel to Klentak’s tenure remains the 2016 draft. Despite picking at the top of each round, not much came from the draft that was supposed to restock the Phillies’ farm system. 1/1 pick Mickey Moniak has been less than impressive in the minor leagues. It is still early to pass definitive judgement on the outfielder and his fellow 2016 draftees, but reliever Jo Jo Romero is the only one who has impressed in The Show.
While the farm system still lacks depth, there is time for Klentak’s mid-round picks to not wilt into pumpkins. His best selection to date has been Alec Bohm, who along with Aaron Nola represents the most positive return from a Phillies first round draft pick in the decade. Phillies fans can only hope that there are more stars like him on the horizon.