We are back once again with a 97.3 ESPN Phillies Mailbag.  The Phillies are back from London and set to take on the Red Sox in Boston and then the Orioles in Baltimore.  We take your questions every Tuesday on The Sports Bash with Mike Gill.

Who do the Phillies target for trade deadline? Outfield or closer?

The answer is probably "both".  In the last week or so there has been a good amount of smoke to indicate that the Phillies are engaged on the trade front.  It sounds like the Phillies could be looking for outfield help primarily, but also perhaps relief help.

On The Front Office on Sirius XM's MLB Network Radio former MLB GM Jim Bowden said that the heard from "three GMs this week" that the Phillies are looking for outfield help. Then today, Bowden writes in a piece today in The Athletic that the Phillies could be in on outfielders Luis Robert, Jr., Tommy  Pham, or Jake McCarthy:

They’re looking to improve their overall outfield and have interest in Luis Robert Jr. and Tommy Pham. The Phillies and White Sox do match up well on a blockbuster-type deal. Robert is under team control through 2027 on a club-friendly deal. The Phillies are in on outfielder Jake McCarthy of the Diamondbacks as well. It’s believed they could also add a reliever.

Robert, Jr. in particular might cost them a good amount.

Robert, Jr. had a breakout season in 2023, but has otherwise been underwhelming.  Once a top prospect, talent evaluators remain fond of his talent.  Having signed a contract early in his career, Robert. Jr. could be a free agent after 2025, with two club options of $20 million each for 2026 and 2027.

Robert has battled injury this season and is hitting .192 with an OPS of .755 in 52 at bats over 13 games.

Pham was an oft-mentioned possibility for the Phillies last trade deadline.  Pham ultimately joined the Arizona Diamondbacks team that won the National League Pennant.  You may remember how that went.  Like Robert, Jr., Pham plays for the Whit Sox.

Also on the 2023 Diamondbacks was McCarthy.  So far in his career he has been a platoon-type left-handed bat.  He is hitting .414 this season against left-handed pitching, so far after batting .206 against left-handed pitching in 2023.

Acquiring a reliever seems like an annual trade deadline activity for most contending teams.  With many teams around the .500 mark, it remains to be seen who might hit the trade market.

Bowden notes, by the way, that the Oakland Athletics have very little interest in trading closer Mason Miller.

Any info on who Phillies are scouting for upcoming draft?

The short answer: near everyone!  The MLB Amateur Draft is scheduled to begin on July 14.  Phillies scouts, like those of most teams, were active in scouting college and high school players.   Futurestarsseries.com lists 500 draft prospects for MLB for 2024.  So there are many options out there for the Phillies.

The most important thing to note is that the Phillies pick 27th this year, after an overall successful 2023 campaign that took them to the National League Championship Series. So it is difficult to hone in on one name that the Phillies would really like.  They will likely rank choices and take the best one off of their list once their turn comes.

It is much different than 2016, when the Phillies had the top pick in the draft.

The MLB Draft also is unlike other sports in that there is not a position that the team will necessarily target.  The road to the major leagues is often a long one.  Aside from the Los Angels Angels, who drafted pitchers in every single round of the 2021 Draft, I am not sure I know of specific positions being targeted throughout the draft.

What you might see is the Phillies keeping an eye on a player that might have more talent than their performance showed.  Last year they drafted George Klassen in the second round.  Once thought of as a first round talent, injury affected Klassen's draft stock.  Now 22, Klassen is about to debut for Class-A Jersey Shore after making the Florida State League hitters look silly the first couple months of the minor league season.

Any chance Phils bring Mick Abel up to pitch BP?

Pitcher Mick Abel is currently ranked the number three prospect in the Phillies organization and is among the Top 100 prospects in MLB, according to MLB Pipeline.  Opening the season at Triple-A Lehigh Valley, Abel's season has not been a dominant one.

In 10 starts, Abel is 1-6 with a 6.31 ERA.  He has walked 33 and struck out 39 in 45 2/3 innings.

Abel had one start at Triple-A last season, but this is a new level for Abel.  At Triple-A, pitchers face many hitters who have MLB experience and provide more of a challenge than raw talent one might find at Double-A.  It's not the worst thing in the world that he faces some adversity.

Abel remains a prospect; the MLB Pipeline

The 6-foot-5 right-hander still offers plenty of projection to go along with his current stuff. He has the chance to have a very good four-pitch mix, starting with a fastball that averaged around 96 mph in 2023 and flirted with triple digits, missing a good amount of bats.

Abel's control is another question.

With 33 walks, Abel has an ugly 1.84 WHIP.  As we frequently see with prospects, the high velocity is good enough for swings and misses at the lower levels of the minor leagues.  As they rise through the minors and there are more disciplined hitters, the pitcher's command matters much more.

So in other words: Abel has the stuff.  He needs the command. Abel remains a prospect but has some ways to go before becoming a major league starter.   The good news? Abel is just 22 years old and has not risen to the 40-man roster yet.   There is time.

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