Phillies Mailbag: 2021 Draft, Didi’s Defense, Organizational “Mess”
We are back once again with the 97.3 ESPN Phillies mailbag. Each week we take your questions and talk about them on the Sports Bash with Mike Gill on Tuesday afternoons. This week we'll catch you at 5:25 p.m. Tune in and listen to the responses to what's on your mind.
With upcoming MLB draft, who do you see we take in the first round?
The Phillies are set to pick 13th in the 2021 MLB Draft, which is set to take place beginning July 11. Because the Phillies are drafting 13th they will be missing out on some of the bigger names in the draft. Right now Jack Leiter, son of Al Leiter, nephew of Mark Leiter, and cousin of Mark Leiter, Jr., is the hot choice for first overall.
At 13, the Phillies likely will have to rank the picks and see what is the best available player when their turn comes up. Maybe one of the assumed Top 10 picks slip a little bit, and they jump at the opportunity.
I do not have any particular names to target for that reason. What I will say, is we got to see the first draft of Brian Barber last year. He rolled the dice in taking a dynamic young high school arm in Mick Abel. Maybe that will reflect his philosophy.
The Phillies went Aaron Nola in 2015, but he was already a collegiate pitcher and seen as a safe bet. He's exceeded draft-time scouting reports.
Cole Hamels was a high school pitcher taken at the top that worked out for the Phillies. but for every Hamels there are many who did not make it. Think Joe Savery and Jesse Biddle. It's a risk.
Under Johnny Almaraz, the Phillies drafted five straight position players: Cornelius Randolph, Mickey Moniak, Adam Haseley, Alec Bohm and Bryson Stott.
To draft another pitcher would be a bold move. But one that could pay dividends. The Phillies so far just have one starting position player from that crop. Is going after a starting rotation staple too much of a gamble?
I would not be shocked if we see another pitcher off of the draft board this year. Who? We'll have to see where the picks go. Maybe as we get closer we'll hear more specific names.
What do we do to address the terrible defense? Move Didi to second base?
Very interestingly, the defense of Didi Gregorius is something that the Phillies organization noted was a tick below what they could get at second base. That is why, according to some reports, the Phillies actually preferred Andrelton Simmons at shortstop this past offseason. But I think the Phillies will be able to get by with Gregorius at shortstop.
However, I think that there's a chance this could change next year. Top infield prospect Bryson Stott is all the way at High-A Jersey Shore (formerly Lakewood, affiliate formerly Clearwater). But Stott could quickly move through the ranks like Alec Bohm did a couple years ago.
And there is also the possibility the Phillies could move to sign one of the free agent shortstops this upcoming offseason. There are many from which to choose. Trevor Story, Javy Baez, Carlos Correa, and Corey Seager are all set to be free agents. I think the Phillies won't be in on a Francisco Lindor-type contract to anyone, but they could get one of them.
Gregorius could move to second base. Then Jean Segura could move positions again, maybe to third base. Then Alec Bohm could move to first base or left field. Then Rhys Hoskins could serve as a designated hitter (if there is one).
But there are options, and the two-year deal is not going to be a long-term inhibitor.
That all said, I still think Gregorius is better than what we have seen thus far. His track record is pretty good, and I would tend to believe that we will see better than we've seen so far this season.
Just one what can Dave Dombrowski do to fix this organizational mess? So many needs...
By the time Dave Dombrowski took over baseball operations on December 11, the Phillies already had to make some decisions. The two significant ones were to retain both closer Hector Neris and starter/maybe reliever Vince Velasquez. Even though there was still two and a half months until pitchers and catchers reported to Clearwater, Dombrowski could only do so much.
The two big moves were to retain both J.T. Realmuto and Didi Gregorius. Beyond that, Dombrowski had to keep a very conservative approach. Dombrowski was not really in a position to give up a lot more cash and he did not want to give up prospects or draft picks from signing players.
Therefore, the moves he made do no long-term harm. Say what you will about Matt Moore and Chase Anderson, but they are on one-year deals. They did not cost draft picks.
But more importantly, Dombrowski will finally get a chance to see what the organization has once the games are played. He can see with his own eyes what the major league team is doing, as well as the prospects on the farm. This year is more convenient, with the team housed in Lakewood, New Jersey now known as the "Jersey Shore BlueClaws", are the High-A team.
So it's not to say that he is not trying to win right now, but he is also trying to establish a long-term outlook. Some contracts will have to be played out. Others he will need to get a final look.
So to answer your question, we are looking at this team unfolding right now. He is seeing what you are seeing.