Following his selection in the first round of Wednesday night’s MLB Draft, the newest member of the Philadelphia Phillies organization was welcomed aboard by the face of the franchise.
Mick Abel, the player the Phillies drafted at No. 15 overall, said he received a FaceTime call from a random number shortly after he was picked. The person on the other end of the call?
None other than star outfielder Bryce Harper.
“I got caught by surprise,” Abel told local reporters, including Tim Kelly of Phillies Nation through a Zoom call. “… I answered and see his face pop up and I’m like, ‘Oh, that’s Bryce Harper. What the heck?'”
The 18-year-old pitcher from Jesuit High School near Portland, Oregon said that Harper, himself the No. 1 pick in the 2010 MLB Draft, greeted him and offered some words of encouragement.
“I think the biggest thing I took away is the grind starts now,” Abel said about his conversation with Harper. “I mean baseball is a grind and that it’s going to take a lot for me to get to the next level. Better get to work.”
Abel was the first high school pitcher selected in the draft, and one of just two taken in the first round. Listed at 6 feet 5 inches and 190 pounds, his big frame and advanced arsenal helped solidify his status as a top pick in this draft.
He listed a four-seam fastball, a two-seam fastball, a curveball and a slider as part of his repertoire, describing the slider as his go-to secondary pitch.
“I’m able to throw it in any count, any quadrant of the zone,” Abel said about the slider. “I feel like I’m able to manipulate it to the point now where it’s like I can make it more of a slurvey shape, or I can raise the velo to get that tighter spin, too.”
Abel also spoke about his competitive nature and how that contributes to his success as a pitcher.
“I’m a big competitor on the mound,” he said. “I like going out there and trying to beat everybody that I can, whether it’s trying to strike guys out or just trying to get guys out in general.”
That mindset and ability to get batters out showed throughout Abel’s high school career. He earned the Gatorade Prep Baseball Player of the Year Award in Oregon in both 2019 and 2020. Abel was also named the Oregon Sports Award Prep Baseball Player of the Year in 2019, a season where he went 10-0 with a 1.26 ERA and helped win Jesuit High School the state championship.
His time as a high school baseball player was ultimately cut short, after the spread of COVID-19 ended his senior season before it started. And although losing that opportunity to pitch in his final year of high school was tough, Abel was able to appreciate the time he did have as a high school player. He then worked during that time off from organized baseball to stay ready and keep improving ahead of the draft.
“The whole shutdown gave me a lot of time to get better and perfect my craft and be able to work diligently towards the goal of reaching this point in my career,” Abel said.
Now that the young right-hander has accomplished that goal of getting drafted, he’ll need to put in the work, as advised by Harper, in order to rise through the ranks. But last night, Abel was still less focused on when he could arrive in the major leagues than just focusing on the moment.
“The whole thought about me even getting drafted is still on my mind. It’s all I can think about,” he said. “… Just being able to soak in the fact that I’ve been drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies, it’s a special feeling. I don’t really know if I’m ready to give that up quite yet and start thinking about everything that’s to come in my career.”
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