Commentary

Top draft pick doesn’t guarantee a game-changer for Phillies

2016 Draft logoOn June 9th, the Phillies will reap the benefits (using that term loosely) of a horrendous 2015 season where they were the worst team in all of baseball. Now, the front office will continue the rebuild when they draft number one overall in Major League Baseball’s first-year player draft.

Only a small portion of first overall picks have become elite players at the highest level. Baseball is one of, if not, the toughest professional sport to predict what an athlete will do in his or her career.

Is having the first pick in the draft exciting?  Of course!  Should Phillies fans think the savior of the team is coming? Probably not.  There are no guarantees.

Since 1985 only 12 number one overall picks have become All-Stars. Only six have been honored as a league Most Valuable Player and only one has come up with a Cy Young Award.  In fact, only one Hall of Famer was a first overall pick: Ken Griffey Jr. (Chipper Jones should be next in line, his ballot will be in 2017).

Aside from a few no-doubt-about-it names such as Bryce Harper, Carlos Correa, and Joe Mauer, there really should not be a lot of hype surrounding the first overall pick the MLB amateur draft.

Harper a 16-year-old phenom graced the cover of Sports Illustrated after hitting a 570 foot home run in high school, while dominating varsity pitching as a sophomore. He then elected to leave high school early go to junior college where he was the top pick as a 17-year-old.

Mauer grew up in St. Paul Minnesota and attended Cretin-Derham Hall high school before being drafted in 2001. The most amazing stat from his high school career was he only struck out one time in 222 varsity at-bats. He finished his career with a .567 average. His athleticism behind home plate, ability to hit for a very high average and his ties to Minnesota made it an easy decision for the Twins to draft him number one overall.

Correa, a prospect from Puerto Rico has been compared to the likes of Alex Rodriguez (a former number one pick) for his size and power at the short stop position. He fields like a young Derek Jeter but hits with power like A-Rod at his age. He proved his hype by earning a call up last year and impressing as a 20-year-old. He belted out both a surprising and impressive 22 homers last year.

But, even with a standout ball player, there is really is no telling what could happen.  Look back at Josh Hamilton, the Harper of the early 2000’s. He had all five tools and was predicted to be one of the best to ever play the game seeing as he was light years ahead of everyone in his age. His character did not develop at the same rate as his talent, another factor that is difficult to predict.

The last time the Phillies were in this position, they selected Pat Burrell, a third baseman from the University of Miami. Burrell’s smooth and powerful right-handed swing made scouts excited to see what he could do in the future and, hopefully, end up as one of the great all-time home run hitters.

Burrell fell quite short of any home run records, with 292 long balls in his career.  He never became an All-Star and his ultimate claim to fame is having a reputation as a ladies’ man who was frequent to the after hours scene.  However, his clutch double in game five of the 2008 World Series would be a nice closing act in Philadelphia for “Pat the Bat”.

It’s hard to come by a first overall pick that becomes the face of a franchise. In the last couple years we have seen the top picks have good progression like Harper with the Nationals, Correa for the playoff-hopeful Astros, and Gerrit Cole the now ace of the Pirates pitching staff.

In less than three weeks the Phillies will be tasked with finding a game-changer, not only from a talent perspective but also someone who will represent the organization and be an ambassador for the league.

Even though this draft selection could be a future MVP, All-Star or Hall of Famer, let’s remember that number one overall picks do not pan out roughly two-thirds of the time.  Be excited for the winning baseball and the process of building a winner, but do not be surprised if in five years, or more, there’s regret or disappointment surrounding the player that the Phils select with the top pick this year.

Your Philadelphia Phillies are now on the clock.

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