Phillies

1st-round pick Alec Bohm the kind of offensive player Phillies want to build around

1st-round pick Alec Bohm the kind of offensive player Phillies want to build around

You don't have to dig too deeply into Alec Bohm's stat line to see some of the reasons the Phillies like him.

There's the batting average — .303 as a freshman, .305 as a sophomore and .339 as a junior at Wichita State University.

There's the on-base percentage — .346 as a freshman, .385 as a sophomore and .436 as a junior.

There's the power — six homers as a freshman, 11 as a sophomore and 16 as a junior.

And there's the walks-to-strikeouts totals — 9-25 as a freshman, 29-31 as a sophomore and 39-28 as a senior.

The numbers suggest that Bohm can hit, get on base, hit for power and do so while taking walks and limiting strikeouts.

Equally important, Bohm has shown the ability to improve in all of these areas. The 21-year-old third baseman is an ascending talent and that's why the Phillies selected him third overall in Major League Baseball's draft Monday night.

"We were very, very lucky to get the guy that we were focusing on throughout a good part of the season," scouting director Johnny Almaraz said. "Alec Bohm is a middle-of-the-order bat.

"He's a very athletic player. He's a good third baseman. With some instruction, I believe that he's got the chance to be an average to an above-average third baseman at the major-league level.

"He can really hit and he commands the strike zone unbelievably well. He's got a lot of leverage in that swing. He can drive the ball out to all parts of the field. He's got what I call wide-field power meaning that he can hit home runs from gap to gap. We love the offensive capabilities."

Bohm stands 6-5 and weighs 220 pounds. He hits right-handed. A scout from a rival organization who has seen Bohm described him as a "lesser Pat Burrell. He stays inside the ball well. He's a hitter first and the power will develop. Solid pick." Burrell was the No. 1 overall pick by the Phillies in 1998.

Bohm was reserved in speaking with reporters via a conference call about 40 minutes after he was selected. His voice did seem to rise when he was asked about the 2018 Phillies, a young club on the rise.

"I've actually kind of taken a liking to them in the past couple of months," Bohm said. "They have a young club and they're doing better than they were expected to. I like them so far. They've kind of become one of my favorites."

The bonus assigned to the No. 3 pick is $6.9 million. Almaraz said he hopes to have Bohm signed soon. He added that he believes Bohm has the ability to move quickly through the system and could play a corner outfield spot or first base if needed. The plan, though, is to keep him at third.

Bohm was not drafted out of high school. He was lightly recruited. He weighed 240 pounds as a freshman but has worked hard to transform his body.

"He's a blue-collar player," Almaraz said.

Bohm's breakthrough as a prospect came last summer in the Cape Cod League, a wood-bat league. He finished second in the league in hitting (.351) and had five homers and 20 RBIs.

"The Cape is where I kind of separated myself," he said. "I got a lot of at-bats. That kind of led to plate discipline, being more selective. That led me to get into the power more."

As the walks have gone up, the strikeouts have come down.

"I just don't like to strike out, period," Bohm said. "When I get to two strikes, I'm just putting the ball in play. I'm just up there trying to put the bat on the ball, not really trying to do damage with two strikes."

Bohm is the second college player chosen in the first round by the Phillies in as many years. Last year, the Phils selected University of Virginia outfielder Adam Haseley eighth overall.

The draft continues on Tuesday but the Phillies won't pick again until the fourth round. They forfeited their second- and third-round picks for signing free agents Carlos Santana and Jake Arrieta.

The Phillies will look to score some pitching in the rest of the draft.

"There's a lot of pitching out there," Almaraz said. "This year's draft is really deep in college pitching, very deep, and we're going to get our share of arms that one day are going to be pitching up here, both starters and relievers."

With so few options at back of rotation, where do Phillies turn?

With so few options at back of rotation, where do Phillies turn?

ATLANTA — A one-sentence summary of the Phillies' series finale Sunday against the Braves? Sean Rodriguez was by far their best pitcher.

The Phillies were blown out, 15-1, in a game when they used an opener for the second time this season (see observations). Gabe Kapler told Vince Velasquez late Saturday night that he would get the "start," and the plan was to ride Velasquez for 50 to 60 pitches before turning to lefty Cole Irvin.

Velasquez, Irvin, Jerad Eickhoff, none of them came close to getting the job done. All three allowed consistently hard, loud contact. The Braves had nine extra-base hits and three more deep fly balls crushed to the warning track.

"We knew we were gonna bring Cole, we knew we had length out of Jerad and thought we could get 50 to 60 pitches out of Vince," manager Gabe Kapler said. "We did all those things, we just didn't do it effectively."

It was ugly from start to finish, and it again highlighted the Phillies' need to go get a starting pitcher right now. Not on July 10, not on July 20, not on July 31 but now. You can't force another team to trade with you, but let's forget for a minute about the top end of the market, the tier of Matt Boyd, Mike Minor, Madison Bumgarner and Zack Greinke. The Phillies just need another reliable arm that can give them six innings, get through a lineup three times. Maybe that arm comes from the minor-league system.

While it's true that most teams have a shaky fifth starter, most teams also have a few trustworthy arms ahead of them in the rotation. The Phillies do not right now. Aaron Nola has a 4.89 ERA. Jake Arrieta has a 4.31 ERA. Nick Pivetta is trending in the right direction, and Zach Eflin has been very good for much of the season, but this quartet has not collectively performed like a playoff rotation.

One thing looks abundantly clear, though: The Phillies cannot continue with the opener experiment with this personnel. Velasquez doesn't have the command, Irvin and Eickhoff don't have the stuff to keep the Phillies in the game against a lineup as potent as the Braves'.

What happens Friday when this rotation spot comes up again?

"We have a lot of work to do, a lot of discussions to have," Kapler said. "No question about it, we have to be better and we'll discuss it more on the flight to Washington, D.C., and get our ducks in a row.

"We haven't pitched our best recently. I think that we have a better level of play in us in totality and I have trust in our starting pitchers — Nick, Jake, Nola, obviously Eflin has been outstanding. We have a group of guys who have a track record of success and Nick has been sensational since he's back from the minor leagues. There's some confidence there."

The Phils clearly don't have a ton of confidence in Velasquez, Irvin or Eickhoff as starting pitchers or else one of them would have the No. 5 starter's job. Actions always speak louder than words.

Irvin's ERA is 6.84, Eickhoff has allowed 18 home runs in his last 28 innings, and Velasquez hasn't been able to take his team deep into games.

Who is next? Ranger Suarez? Enyel De Los Santos? Ramon Rosso? Adonis Medina? The decision won't be made for several days.

"I think we'll rebound from this with ease," Velasquez said. "I think it's just one of those games where these guys are hot and we've got to tip our caps off to them and keep moving forward. 

"They had a solid month, and we're right on their tails. I don't think it's one of those things where we should necessarily give up as a pitching staff or as an offensive team."

The Braves have been the hottest team in the NL, winning 24 of their last 34 games. And Velasquez does have a point — as well as Atlanta has played of late, as many injuries as the Phillies have, the deficit is only 2½ games. They can make that up in a series. 

But to do so, they need the starting staff to carry them for a bit. It hasn't been able to the way it was the first half of 2018. With so many key relievers injured, with Andrew McCutchen out for the season and Jay Bruce and J.T. Realmuto banged up, that is the unit that must step up. 

Can they do it? Can they keep the Phillies in the game against Patrick Corbin Monday, Max Scherzer Wednesday and Stephen Strasburg Thursday? If not, the gap between the Phillies and the Braves will only grow wider.

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Braves 15, Phillies 1: Braves demolish Phillies, who badly need another SP

Braves 15, Phillies 1: Braves demolish Phillies, who badly need another SP

BOX SCORE 

ATLANTA — The Phillies' need for another starting pitcher has not been more glaring than it was Sunday afternoon in a totally embarrassing 15-1 loss to the Braves.

With no fifth starter currently on the Phillies' roster, Gabe Kapler went with Vince Velasquez as an opener in Sunday's series finale and it did not work.

Velasquez hit Ronald Acuña Jr. on an 0-2 pitch to begin the game, before Dansby Swanson singled and Freddie Freeman hit a two-run double. In all, Velasquez allowed four runs in 2⅓ innings before giving way to Cole Irvin.

Irvin didn't fare any better, giving up a long two-run homer to the second batter he faced, Josh Donaldson, then giving up loud contact the next few frames. Irvin gave up six runs in 3⅔ innings as the Braves built an eight-run lead that only grew and grew.

Jerad Eickhoff, formerly the No. 5 starter, entered next and allowed two more home runs. Eickhoff has been taken deep an astonishing 18 times in his last 28 innings.

The Phillies didn't hit, didn't play good defense and definitely didn't pitch well.

They need to quickly figure out the back of this rotation. Granted, the next time the fifth spot in the rotation comes up is against the lowly Marlins Friday at Citizens Bank Park, but the league just isn't being fooled by Velasquez, Irvin or Eickhoff.

Other options would be Enyel De Los Santos, Ranger Suarez or a pitching prospect like Adonis Medina, who is on the 40-man roster and is on a nice little roll at Double A Reading, going 5-0 with a 1.24 ERA over his last five starts.

The Phillies are 39-32 and 2½ games behind the Braves in the NL East. The Braves are 24-10 in their last 34 games, six games better than the Phillies over that span.

The Phils have lost 10 of their last 16.

Down two starters

The Phillies were without starting catcher J.T. Realmuto and leftfielder Jay Bruce in this one. Realmuto exited Saturday's game after taking a foul ball to the groin and Bruce left with hamstring tightness. Both are day to day and will avoid the injured list. 

It's possible one or both are back in the lineup Monday, though it could be Tuesday.

This is what a deep lineup looks like

Back when the Phillies had Andrew McCutchen and there was still hope/optimism about Odubel Herrera and Maikel Franco, they had what looked like one of baseball's deepest lineups. That is no longer the case. On Sunday, the Phils' 5-through-8 hitters were Cesar Hernandez, Nick Williams, Franco and Andrew Knapp. Not going to scare anyone.

The Braves just have a much better lineup. In order:

1) Acuña Jr. is a beast. 

2) Swanson has an OPS over .800.

3) Freeman is one of the two best hitters in the National League. 

4) Donaldson is a former MVP and a dangerous right-handed bat that is starting to get hot. 

5) Nick Markakis is a clutch left-handed hitter who rarely strikes out. 

6) Austin Riley will be in the Rookie of the Year conversation and might win it.

7) Ozzie Albies has blazing speed and at .281, has a higher batting average than every Phillies starter except Scott Kingery.

It helps that the Braves have had eight fewer injuries than the Phillies, none to their current starting lineup. But the gap in offenses right now is impossible to overlook.

Up next

The Phillies are in D.C. to play four games against the Nationals, who are 9-5 in June. The Phils will face all three of the Nationals' top starting pitching trio.

All four games are at 7:05 p.m. on NBC Sports Philadelphia.

Monday: Jake Arrieta (6-5, 4.31) vs. LHP Patrick Corbin (5-5, 4.11)

Tuesday: Zach Eflin (6-6, 2.81) vs. Erick Fedde (1-1, 3.68)

Wednesday: Nick Pivetta (4-1, 5.00) vs. Max Scherzer (5-5, 2.81)

Thursday: Aaron Nola (6-1, 4.89) vs. Stephen Strasburg (7-4, 3.75)

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