With the MLB Draft upon us, the Phillies are slated to pick in unfamiliar territory: the end of the first round.
Following the Phils’ miraculous run in the 2022 postseason, the club holds the second-to-last pick in the first round as their reward for falling just two wins short of their third World Series championship.
The MLB Draft begins on July 9 and will be an exciting day for many high school and college baseball players who will complete the first part of their big league dream. However, it’s essential to understand the selection process in the MLB Draft is much different than leagues like the NBA and NFL.
Unlike other league drafts, MLB organizations don’t always select the best player available. MLB draftees are highly dependent on signability––that is, how likely a prospect is to sign with a team for a fixed amount of money. Each draft number is assigned a specific slot value that puts a dollar amount on what that pick should be worth. Additionally, teams are allotted a set amount of money they are allowed to give their draftees in signing bonuses. In this way, a team with less available money is more likely to pick a player who was expecting to be taken lower in the draft and would accept a lesser signing bonus. Consequently, that same team can use the money they saved on that particular pick and distribute it throughout the rest of the draft.
To make an analogy out of the selection process and slot values, consider a sale at a store. To save money, you’d buy a product on sale and then use the money saved on a different product that’s more expensive. It’s a flawed concept considering teams are drafting players that could make or break a franchise, but in a league where developing prospects is a long process without any guarantee of success, the theory works for MLB organizations.
Considering the Phillies’ $5,185,000 bonus pool is the smallest in this year’s draft, it’s likely they’ll attempt to pick players who’d accept less money as a way to disperse what little bonus pool they have across all rounds.
To put the Phillies’ bonus pool in perspective, it’s less than a third of what the Pirates––who hold the number one pick in this year’s draft––have to spend.
With 18 selections this year as a penalty for signing Trea Turner, who was extended a qualifying offer this past offseason, the Phillies will have to be wise with how they spend their bonus pool. Nevertheless, there are plenty of prospects that could pique the Phils’ interest.
Let’s take a look at three players the Phillies will be taking a close look at come July 9.
1) Chase Davis, OF // Arizona
It’s impossible to watch this guy hit and not think of former Rockies’ All-Star Carlos Gonzales. This year at Arizona, Davis hit .362/.489/.742 with 21 home runs and 74 RBIs while walking more than striking out. There’s a ton of hard contact coming off his bat, and with his development over the past few years at Arizona, Davis could be a fast riser through the farm system.
While the outfielder will need to refine his approach at the next level to add more consistency in getting to his contact point, he’s an obvious choice for an organization that lacks impact bats in the minor leagues.
2) Charlee Soto, RHP // Reborn Christian Academy (FL)
After selecting Mick Abel, Andrew Painter, and Justin Crawford with their last three first-round picks, it’s clear the theme for the Phillies has been selecting high school prospects with tons of upside but in need of development time. Right-hander Charlee Soto out of Reborn Christian Academy fits that bill. Standing at 6’5” and just 17 years old, Soto has a fastball that sits in the mid-90s with a sharp slider and an interesting split-change that plays well off the fastball. He needs to refine his command and continue to grow into his body, but the stuff is there.
Similar to Abel and Painter, Soto is a high school arm the Phillies can give to their development staff and let them go to work. Though we haven’t seen it at the big league level yet, pitching development has been a strength for the organization over the past few years. Soto could be the next pitching prospect Phillies fans can get excited about.
3) Colt Emerson, IF // Glenn HS (OH)
The Gatorade Player of the Year in Ohio, Colt Emerson, is a projectable infielder that also fits the Phillies’ recent trend of selecting high school talent. Emerson has an advanced feel at the plate and is a traditional gap-to-gap hitter. At 6’2” and 195 pounds, the shortstop will likely continue to grow into a power stroke that could lead to 20+ home runs at the next level. While he’s athletic enough to stick at short, a move to third base may be in his future. With quick hands at the plate and a quiet approach, he could be another Bryson Stott in the making.
A few other prospects the Phillies could look at are Wake Forest third baseman Brock Wilken, high school lefty Thomas White, and high school infielders Kevin McGonigle and Walker Martin. McGonigle, in particular, is a graduate of Monsignor Bonner and would be an obvious pick with his projectability as a middle infielder and a Chase Utley style of play. However, as Kieth Law notes, Mcgonigle has been intent on attending Auburn this fall in his pre-draft interviews, leading to signability concerns. While being drafted by his hometown team would be tempting, it would likely cost a pretty penny if the Phillies don’t have this draft season.
Regardless of who the Phils select at 27, they’ll hopefully be a part of the next generation of homegrown stars to take the field at Citizens Bank Park.
Photo: Doug Murray/AP Photo