Phillies load up on college players early in draft

The Phillies started Tuesday where they left off Monday by acquiring college talent that could reach the majors around the same time as the prospects who are already playing at the top of their minor-league system.

The Phillies used their third-round pick in the Major League Baseball draft on Cal State Fullerton righthander Connor Seabold and drafted University of Houston third baseman Jake Scheiner in the fourth round.

The team used its first four picks on college players for just the second time since 1993. Seabold and Scheiner joined Virginia outfielder Adam Haseley and Cal Poly righthander Spencer Howard, who were drafted Monday.

“We were taking the best players today,” said Johnny Almaraz, the team’s director of amateur scouting. “We took Connor Seabold in the third round. We felt like he was the best position player, best pitcher right in that spot. Someone that has extreme pitchability. He can pitch, has a nice change-up, nice curveball, above average fastball that works between the 90-93 range. He can pitch. Between him and Howard, we felt like we nabbed two of the top righthanders in the country.”

The Phillies have eight of their top 13 prospects – as ranked by MLB.com – at either double A or triple A. There is a lot of talent on the cusp of the majors and it is not a stretch to think that this year’s first four picks could join those prospects in the big leagues by 2019. Seabold has a 3.01 ERA this season for the Titans, who play this weekend in the College World Series.

Scheiner was the American Athletic Conference’s player of the year and hit .346 with 18 homers after transferring from Santa Rosa Junior College, where he was an all-American.

“We believe he’s a legitimate third baseman that has really good defensive ability and a really good arm,” Almaraz said. “He has outstanding power and has a chance to hit for average and power.”

Seabold struck out 120 batters and walked 22 this season in 122 2/3 innings. He is known more for his command and control rather than his velocity, which makes him easy to compare to Phillies prospect Tom Eshelman, who also pitched at Cal State Fullerton. Seabold pairs his low-90s fastball with a change-up, and his delivery includes a high leg kick.

“He’s a lot like Eshelman but with a lot more stuff,” Almaraz said. “He has more power to him. He’s a very good pitcher. He’s somebody that could be a very quick mover.”

Scheiner can also play second base and shortstop, but the Phillies project him as a third baseman. The righthanded hitter had a .432 on-base percentage and slugged .680 in 243 at-bats. He was named a second-team all-American by Collegiate Baseball. He led the American Conference in homers (17), RBIs (57), and total bases (153), and had 17 multi-RBI games.

The Phillies added high school lefthander Ethan Lindow in the fifth round and Florida shortstop Dalton Guthrie in the sixth. Lindow had a 0.97 ERA this season in 572/3 innings at Locust Grove (Ga.) High. He struck out 97 batters and walked 18. He has a low-90s fastball. Guthrie is one of the nation’s top defenders and enters the College World Series batting .271 with a .349 on-base percentage in 203 at-bats. He is the son of former big-league pitcher Mark Guthrie.

“He was dealing with a couple of tweaks here and there, just like a lot of young baseball players. As he got stronger throughout the year, he started performing,” Almaraz said. “We feel that the history of us scouting him throughout the year, we are getting a definite major-league player that can play in the middle of the diamond.”

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Published:
The Philadelphia Inquirer




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