For the second straight year, the Phillies drafted a Jacoby Ellsbury-like outfielder in the first round.
The Phils made Virginia's Adam Haseley the eighth overall pick in the MLB draft Monday night (see story), and shortly thereafter, scouting director Johnny Almaraz made clear Haseley was the target.
The Phillies felt that the strength of this first round was in college players. And quite frankly, that fits their current timetable because the Phils have numerous top prospects on the cusp of the major leagues. A college first-rounder has the chance to contribute in a year or two, just as guys like Rhys Hoskins, Nick Williams, J.P. Crawford, Jorge Alfaro and others are graduating to the majors.
"I believe he's going to hit anywhere between 20 and 25 home runs," Almaraz said of Haseley, dispelling a notion held by some that there isn't a ton of unlockable power in his bat.
"He's a player who's got really good pull power. I've scouted him extensively. He's strong. He's a college player who still has projection, as far as his body and strength is concerned. His hitting ability is above average and when he gets stronger, that ball's going to travel some more."
Haseley said that growing up, Ellsbury was a player he admired, both because of the skills they share and how cool Ellsbury looked on the field.
"He had a sleeve and a shin guard so I would dress up in high school games to look just like him," Haseley said in a conference call.
Haseley thinks that right now, his contact tool is his best. He hit .390 this past season at Virginia with 14 home runs and 56 RBIs in a big ballpark. He also walked 44 times and struck out just 21, displaying the kind of plate selection this Phillies' front office covets.
"He's everything you look for in a hitter. Patient, disciplined, he's aggressive when he gets his pitch, attacks the baseball," Almaraz said. "He's got incredible intangibles for the game. He's got outstanding makeup, his character, his intelligence, his field awareness."
Sounds just like Mickey Moniak, doesn't it?
"Very similar players," Almaraz said.
After he signs, Haseley will play center field. He also pitched in college but those days are over. Haseley said only one team — not the Phillies — discussed the idea of using him as a two-way player, and he is looking forward to getting to focus solely on being a position player. It will allow him to lift weights in a different way during the offseason and even during the season, focusing a bit less on legs and cardio and more on gaining strength. That could lead to an uptick in power.
Moniak, for example, was drafted as a player many believed could hit .300 someday but who needed to gain strength to add the power dynamic. Moniak put on 20 pounds of muscle this past offseason and he's shown some more pop of late with 11 extra-base hits in his last 17 games.
"I think that contact tool is one of my strengths," Haseley said. "The more selective I am, I think the power comes with that."
Haseley hopes to sign quickly. The value of the eighth overall pick is $4,780,400, about $1.3 million less than Moniak's bonus last year.
"It doesn't feel real at all," Haseley said. "I just feel extremely grateful and blessed and I know the Phillies are an amazing organization. I'm just super excited to get started and go through the process."