Phillies Mailbag: Center Field, MLB Draft, Fan Support
We are back once again with a 97.3 ESPN Phillies mailbag. Each week we take your questions and talk about them on the Sports Bash with Mike Gill every Tuesday. Send your questions anytime on Twitter to @FrankKlose or send a text to the text board at 609-403-0973.
With Odubel Herrera out for the foreseeable future - if not forever - what would you do about center field?
I believe that if Odubel Herrera is guilty of what is alleged, he may never play for the Phillies again. I feel it is very important that an organization such as the Phillies makes a very important statement that this type of behavior is not to be tolerated on any level. I would look for a long-term solution at center field, though that probably will not happen right now.
I am guessing as of the time I am writing this that Nick Williams will return from Triple-A Lehigh Valley. As was the case before Williams was optioned to the minor leagues, I can see Williams playing some left field and Andrew McCutchen playing some center field. However, that is not an ideal defensive alignment.
I think the Phillies will probably give hot bat Scott Kingery an extended look in center field to see if they can keep his hot bat in the lineup and to give them some time to look forward. Even prior to Herrera being placed on administrative leave, I felt there was a clear need for an outfielder who bats from the left side.
I think the Phillies will add such a bat; maybe one will become available sooner than later. If they do, I think it would be in center field to give Kingery the flexibility to play some third base and second base too, as he did in the last week.
With the upcoming MLB draft, who do you see the Phillies taking at #14? I'm hoping it's one of the top remaining college pitchers.
We are less than a week from the 2019 MLB Draft, which takes place between June 3 and June 5. The draft has somewhat snuck up on us, given the Bryce Harper signing, hot start of the Phillies, and since for the first time in a while the Phillies do not have a top pick, thanks to a middle-of-the-pack finish in 2018.
The problem with forecasting who the Phillies take is that all the way down at 14, the Phillies need to wait and see what talent falls. In recent seasons, the Phillies picked outfielder Mickey Moniak first overall in 2016, outfielder Adam Haseley eighth overall in 2017, and third baseman Alec Bohm third overall in 2018. They could decide on Moniak back in 2016, the Phillies had a general idea of the type of talent available at eight in 2017 and Bohm last season was also somewhat predictable.
But 2019 will be much tougher.
The latest mock draft on MLB.com by Jonathan Mayo has the Phillies going for a college pitcher just as you suggest. Mayo sees the Phillies taking right handed pitcher Alek Manoah out of West Virginia. Manoah is an imposing 6'7" figure, who worked himself from spot starts and the bullpen into a first round talent.
But again - which talent will fall? Mayo says the Phillies could go with lefty Jake Thompson out of Kentucky if he falls, as well as George Kirby from Elon, a righty who could be quick to the majors.
But Mayo also suggests the club could go high school:
A high school bat like Brett Baty or Gunnar Henderson could also enter the conversation. And don’t rule out a prep pitcher like Matthew Allan.
Over at The Athletic, Matt Gelb seems to think that Kirby could be the choice.
The Phillies might be aiming college pitcher, but if none of the ones they are targeting are available, they may instead try to get a high school player, even though the return is less predictable and takes longer.
When the Phillies drafted Aaron Nola they were looking for a college arm that could rise to the major leagues quickly. Nola was drafted in June of 2014 and in the majors by July 2015. That one worked out pretty well.
Do you think that the Phillies could have a fan resurgence built around the likes of Rhys Hoskins and Scott Kingery even without signing Bryce Harper?
That's a really good question to ask. Fans have really embraced Rhys Hoskins and are also rallying around Scott Kingery. Do not forget the enthusiasm that Andrew McCutchen brought, as well as what Jean Segura is starting to bring his team. That said, I think Bryce Harper really ignited much of this.
If you remember, it took the Harper signing for ticket sales to take off to unprecedented levels. Without Harper, fans might not have really seen how well Segura can hit. They might not remember much more than Kingery's slow start. Aaron Nola was around and was not enough to get fans to the park in big levels.
So while Harper might be striking out too much right now, I do not think fans are too concerned. One would think that we would hear about such a start more often. That's a sign that fans are fine with this and fully expect Harper to come out of it. It's also a sign that baseball is back.
The first place Phillies are where they are and have the attention they have thanks to Harper.