Phillies hoping to find first-round Draft success
A round-by-round look at notable selections as organization prepares for 2014 picks
PHILADELPHIA -- Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. surveyed his team from the field this week before he offered some honest insight about the First-Year Player Draft.
"Is it the biggest crapshoot in the game?" he said. "Yes, it is. The amateur Draft is probably the worst investment you can make in acquiring players, but it's also the most important."
There's the rub. The Phillies head to the craps table next week with the seventh overall pick in this year's Draft, their highest selection since they chose Gavin Floyd with the fourth overall pick in 2001. They hope to find a star, which is something they have not found in recent years. Since the Phillies selected Cole Hamels with the 17th overall selection in 2002, Phillies first-round picks have a combined minus-1.9 WAR.
(Shortstop J.P. Crawford, whom Philadelphia selected with its first pick last year, could reverse that trend in a big way in years to come.)
The Indians (5.9 WAR), Astros (6.9) and Padres (7.3) are right behind the Phillies, but they still find themselves in the black.
Amaro attributes the organization's lack of success in the first round to the simple fact they have not drafted high.
"When you get top 10 picks generally you have a much better chance of getting a player," he said. "The percentages are pretty evident."
Regardless, the Phillies hope for better luck this year. There are gems to be found everywhere. In fact, here is a look at the organization's best-ever pick in each round of the Draft since its inception in 1965.
Round 1: Chase Utley, 2000
Utley is unarguably the greatest second baseman in franchise history. He is a World Series champion, two-time National League champion, five-time All-Star, four-time Silver Slugger winner and he has finished in the top 10 in NL MVP voting three times.
Round 2: Mike Schmidt, 1971
Arguably the greatest third baseman in baseball history. Enough said.
Round 3: J.A. Happ, 2004
Happ finished second in NL Rookie of the Year voting in 2009, but the Phillies traded him to the Astros in July 2010 to help them acquire Roy Oswalt. He currently pitches for the Blue Jays.
Round 4: Michael Bourn, 2003
Bourn made two All-Star teams and won two Gold Gloves, but none of them with the Phillies. They are OK with that. They shipped Bourn and two others to the Astros in November 2007 to help them acquire Brad Lidge, whose perfect season as Phillies closer in 2008 helped the organization win its second World Series.
Round 5: Ryan Howard, 2001
Howard waited behind Jim Thome for his opportunity, but he did not disappoint once he finally got his chance. He won the 2005 NL Rookie of the Year Award and the 2006 NL MVP Award. Compare his numbers to other Phillies first basemen in history and Howard is the best of the bunch.
Round 6: Bob Boone, 1969
Boone is one of the greatest defensive catchers in baseball history. He won seven Gold Gloves, but would have more had he not played in the same league as Johnny Bench in his prime. Boone also made four All-Star teams and helped the Phillies win the 1980 World Series.
Round 7: Kyle Kendrick, 2003
The Phillies rushed Kendrick from Double-A to the big leagues in 2007, but he went 10-4 with a 3.84 ERA his rookie season, earning a start in Game 2 of the 2007 NL Division Series. Kendrick had to rebuild his career in the Minor Leagues, but has been a mainstay in the Phillies rotation since 2012.
Round 8: Chuck McElroy, 1986
McElroy made 654 appearances over 13 big league seasons. He made only 27 appearances with the Phillies before they traded him and Bob Scanlon to the Cubs in April 1991 for Mitch Williams.
Round 9: Ryan Madson, 1998
Madson pitched nine seasons for the Phillies, his last as a closer in 2011. He developed into one of the best relievers in franchise history, stabilizing a bullpen during its run of five consecutive NL East titles from 2007-11.
Round 10: Marlon Byrd, 1999
Byrd has had two stints with the Phillies. His first from 2002-05, included a fourth-place finish in NL Rookie of the Year voting. His second began this season. In between, Byrd made his first and only All-Star appearance with the Cubs in 2010.
Round 11: Casey Blake, 1992
Blake never signed with the Phillies. The Yankees drafted him in the 45th round in 1995, but he also did not sign. He finally signed with the Blue Jays as a seventh-round pick in 1996. He ended up with 1,186 hits over a 13-year career with the Blue Jays, Twins, Orioles, Indians and Dodgers.
Round 12: Scott Hatteberg, 1988
Hatteberg never signed with the Phillies, but he signed as a first-round pick with the Red Sox in 1991. The Moneyball man played 1,314 games in his 14-year big league career with the Red Sox, A's and Reds.
Round 13: Todd Frohwirth, 1984
He made 284 appearances in his nine-year career with the Phillies, Orioles, Red Sox and Angels.
Round 14: Mike Williams, 1990
Williams made 468 appearances over a 12-year career, which included two stints with the Phillies. In between, he earned two All-Star appearances with the Pirates in 2002 and '03.
Round 15: Geoff Geary, 1998
Geary is the one and only 15th round pick in Phillies history to reach the big leagues. He pitched seven seasons in the Majors. The Phillies traded him along with Bourn and one other to the Astros for Lidge.
The 2014 Draft will take place on June 5-7, beginning with the Draft preview show on MLB.com and MLB Network on Thursday, June 5, at 6 p.m. ET. Live Draft coverage from MLB Network's Studio 42 begins at 7 p.m., with the top 74 picks being streamed on MLB.com and broadcast on MLB Network. MLB.com's exclusive coverage of the second and third days will begin with a live Draft show at 12:30 p.m. ET on June 6.
MLB.com's coverage includes Draft Central, the Top 100 Draft Prospects list and Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of Draft-eligible players. Every selection will be tweeted live from @MLBDraftTracker, and you can also keep up to date by following @MLBDraft. And get into the Draft conversation by tagging your tweets with #mlbdraft.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.