Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Puk leads list of potential targets for the Phillies as draft nears

A.J. Puk is one of several potential targets for the Phillies on Thursday night.
The Phillies enter Thursday night's 2016 First Year Player Draft with the top pick, a luxury the organization hasn't had since 1998. Unlike years past though, there isn't a consensus No. 1 player at the top of everyone's list.

All told, the Phillies invited more than 20 players to Citizens Bank Park for individual workouts and enlisted Charlie Manuel and Pat Gillick to assist in the evaluation process. The talent is out there, but it's a matter of doing as much research as possible and finding the right fit.

"We have a small group of players, both position players and pitchers, and we're hammering it out every single day," Phillies scouting director Johnny Almaraz said at a news conference Monday. "We're narrowing things down now, and hopefully a few hours before [the draft] we'll be pretty much on target with who we want."

Here is some some commentary on players the Phillies may target on Thursday night with the top pick

A.J. Puk, LHP, Florida
Projected a month ago to be the consensus top pick, Puk's stock has fallen a bit over the last few weeks. A hard-throwing lefty with three quality pitches, he draws comparisons to Chicago's Chris Sale. The fact he hurled back-to-back outings of more than six innings just once this season is a concern for some. He also battled back and stomach issues throughout the season and endured control problems on the mound. Even so, he averaged more than a strikeout an inning and Florida is still in contention for a berth in the College World Series.

Riley Pint, RHP, St. Thomas Aquinas High School (Kansas)
In a draft full of flame throwers, Pint stands out because of his dominant breaking stuff, including a knuckle-curve. He would break the mold as no high school righty has ever been drafted with the top pick, but he looks like a sure front line starter.

Jason Groome, LHP, Barnegat High School (New Jersey)
The 6-foot-6 frame and fact that he has two plus-plus pitches means he projects well. Toss in the fact he's left-handed and already hits 96 mph and you can understand why he's someone connected to the Phillies and the top pick.

Nick Senzel, 3B, Tennessee
The most major league ready position player in the draft, Senzel demonstrates patience at the plate and has some poHe ended his college career with a slash of .332/.426/.508 to go along with 13 homers and 126 RBIs over 160 games. He also plays strong defense.

Mickey Moniak, OF, La Costa Canyon High School (California)
Projected as a future leadoff hitter thanks in part to his speed and ability to make contact, Moniak compares nicely to current Phillies outfielder Odubel Herrera. His drawback right now is his strength at the plate and his arm in the outfield.

Kyle Lewis, OF, Mercer
Almost the complete opposite type of player compared to Moniak, Lewis is a masher with a cannon for an arm. Thirty homers is a real possibility if he grows a bit more into his 6-foot-4 frame. He hit 37 homers over the last two seasons with Mercer, but there are some concerns about the level of competition he faced in the Southern Conference.
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BY PATRICK GORDON
Managing Editor
pgordon@philadelphiabaseballreview.com

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