Phillie Phodder: Draft Outlook, a Hitter That Could Help, a Brad Lidge Slider | NBC 10 Philadelphia

Phillie Phodder: Draft Outlook, a Hitter That Could Help, a Brad Lidge Slider

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    Phillie Phodder: Draft Outlook, a Hitter That Could Help, a Brad Lidge Slider
    CSNPhilly.com
    Phillie Phodder: Draft outlook, a hitter that could help, a Brad Lidge slider

    While the Phillies' awful May has put them in the breakdown lane of the major league baseball standings, it has moved them into the fast lane for the No. 1 pick in the 2018 draft.

    And for a rebuilding franchise, that's not a bad place to be. You get the first crack at the best amateur talent in the land and increased bonus pool money to spend throughout the draft.

    There are still four months of baseball to play in the 2017 season, plenty of time for the Phillies to show they aren't this bad, so it's not a sure thing that they will have the No. 1 pick next year.

    But looking at this club, it's pretty clear they will have another top-10 pick.

    Last year, the Phils had the No. 1 overall pick - "reward" for those 99 losses in 2015. They selected centerfielder Mickey Moniak, the top high school hitter in the country.

    This year's draft gets underway a week from Monday, and while it won't generate the local attention that it did last year - all eyes are on you when you have the top pick - it will still be pretty captivating because the Phils pick No. 8 overall and should get a good player in that spot.

    The Phils picked high school outfielders (Moniak and Cornelius Randolph) with their first pick in the last two drafts. They could very well end up with another outfielder with their first pick in this draft, but the vibe is it won't come from the high school ranks.

    The Phillies seem focused on a college player for their first pick, though that could change if pitcher Hunter Greene or shortstop Royce Lewis, both California prep players, slide in the first round. That is highly unlikely.

    The list of college players that the Phillies could target includes a pair of players from the University of Virginia, outfielder Adam Haseley and first baseman Pavin Smith. Outfielders Jeren Kendall of Vanderbilt and Keston Hiura of Cal-Irvine could also be on the Phillies' board.

    If the Phillies go with a pitcher in the first round, they could tab University of Florida right-hander Alex Faedo. In fact, Baseball America has the Phillies taking him at No. 8 in its most recent mock draft. Oregon State lefty David Peterson and UCLA right-hander Griffin Canning could also interest the Phils.

    A pair of pitchers, Kyle Wright of Vanderbilt and Brendan McKay of Louisville, could end up going 1-2 to Minnesota and Cincinnati, respectively. McKay is an interesting guy, a lefty who also swings a good bat at first base. He pitched in a college tournament at the Phillies' ballpark in Clearwater in February and a gaggle of team officials sat behind the backstop and watched him toss six shutout innings and hit a home run against Alabama State. Phillies officials buzzed about McKay that day. He would be a nice pick but he won't be there at No. 8.

    ***

    Player procurement is crucial to teams that are rebuilding and teams that are looking to sustain. The draft is the chief way to bring young talent into a system, but there are others ways, too.

    Less than a month after the draft, the market for 16-year-olds in Latin America opens. Word on the street is the Phillies are poised to strike on a number of players, including highly regarded Dominican shortstop prospect Luis Garcia.

    ***

    The Rule 5 draft is yet another way to add talent. Phillies fans know this well because the team landed Shane Victorino and Odubel Herrera in that event.

    The Phillies rolled the dice and left outfielder Andrew Pullin unprotected before the last Rule 5 draft in December. From this perspective, it was difficult to believe no team rolled the dice on him and it's even more difficult to believe now that Pullin is hitting .323 with 12 homers, 36 RBIs and a .996 OPS at Double A Reading.

    There's been a lot of talk about which prospects the Phillies should bring up and when, but Pullin seems to be a guy that could help now. GM Matt Klentak says he won't rush young players at the cost of their development - though unpopular, that's the way the steward of any rebuild should operate - but Pullin might be a different case.

    Pullin is 23 and does not necessarily project as an everyday corner outfielder because there are questions about his defense and whether he'll hit for enough power in the majors. He may be more of what Pat Gillick used to call "a semi-regular," and there's nothing wrong with that. Those guys have their place. Pullin has a sweet, compact, left-handed, line-drive swing much like Jim Eisenreich's. It's the kind of low-maintenance swing that could hold up to getting just a handful of at-bats per week while contributing offensively off the bench and in occasional starts.

    Just a thought.

    And another thought: If he were to come up, he might be the Phillies' best hitter.

    ***

    The Phillies made an interesting minor-league transaction on Thursday, promoting reliever Jesen Therrien from the Double A Reading club to the high-flying Triple A Lehigh Valley club. The IronPigs entered Thursday at 36-16 after a 24-5 May.

    Therrien, 24, allowed just 14 hits and four earned runs (1.26 ERA) in 28 2/3 innings in two months at Double A Reading. He struck out 39, walked just three and recorded seven saves. He profiles as a guy who can continue to pitch late in games because he has two plus pitches.

    "We need to find out more about him at Triple A," director of player development Joe Jordan said. "It's a good environment he's going into. We're going to get him right in the middle of it."

    Jordan called Therrien, a Montreal native (see story), one of the best athletes in the organization. The Phillies selected him in the 17th round in the 2011 draft.

    As Jordan described Therrien's hard-diving slider, it was hard not to think of Brad Lidge.

    "He's 93-94 with his sinker and his slider is a finishing pitch," Jordan said. "He's got as good a breaking pitch as anyone in our minor-league system. The slider has two shapes, one that he throws for a strike, one that he uses to finish a hitter. It's got power at the end and downward finish.

    "He's been spot-on all year with a combination of stuff and execution. This is the guy we've been waiting for. He's shown it in the past. He's just been inconsistent. But he came into camp this spring in good form and has been consistent night in and night out."

    Now he gets another test.

    You will see a number of prospects in Philadelphia in the coming months. If Therrien continues to shine, he could be one of them.