Phillies

With Bryson Stott, Casey Martin, Luis Garcia, Phillies have logjam of SS prospects — and that's good

With Bryson Stott, Casey Martin, Luis Garcia, Phillies have logjam of SS prospects — and that's good

A year ago, the Phillies spent their first pick in the draft on UNLV shortstop Bryson Stott.

On Thursday night, the team spent its second pick in this year’s draft on University of Arkansas shortstop Casey Martin.

While some might see a potential logjam at the position — the Phils are also high on shortstop prospect Luis Garcia from the Dominican Republic — scouting director Brian Barber saw an opportunity too good to pass up.

“I don’t believe any organization can have too many quality shortstops,” Barber said. “And athletes who are able to play shortstop are generally able to play other positions, as well. Opportunities will be plentiful for everyone.”

Needless to say, the players who perform best in those opportunities will advance.

Barber did not anticipate selecting Martin at the outset of Thursday’s draft action, which included rounds two through five. The Phils forfeited their second-round pick after signing Zack Wheeler. They got Martin in the third round, 87th overall.

“We didn’t think he’d be there when the day started,” Barber said. “We didn’t want him to get by us when the opportunity presented itself. There was no way we could pass up his combination of tools.”

Martin, 5-11, 175 pounds, has speed, power and arm strength. He hit 30 homers in 572 at-bats over two-plus seasons at Arkansas. His junior season came to an end after 15 games because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A right-handed bat, Martin hit .345 as a freshman but slipped to .287 as a sophomore and .271 in this year’s abbreviated season.

Martin was pegged as a first-round talent after his freshman season and even by some coming into this draft, but he slipped because of questions about his bat. The most common knock on Martin is that he’s too aggressive in his approach.

“I don’t know the specifics of what all 29 other teams were thinking internally,” Barber said. “I don’t know if it was a lack of belief in the hit tool. 

“He’s an exciting, quick-twitch athlete who is full of tools. Any time we can get middle-of-the-field players who competed at a high level like the SEC with speed and power, we’re going to be in it.

“We got a lot of looks at him his freshman year when he lit it up and we believe in the hit tool. We’re super excited to have him.”

Barber revealed that Martin had surgery for a hamate bone issue last fall. The hamate bone sits at the base of the hand and problems with it can hurt a hitter.

Martin isn’t the first college player to slip in a draft. Once upon a time, a big slugger from Missouri State was mentioned as a potential first-rounder. The player struggled his junior season and fell to the fifth round, where the Phillies, even though their draft room was split, took a chance. That player led the league in homers twice, RBIs three times and won a rookie of the year and MVP award — Ryan Howard.

Martin possesses plenty of versatility. He can play third base, second base and center field. Sounds a little like Scott Kingery.

The draft was cut from 40 to five rounds because of the pandemic. The Phillies got some balance in their four picks.

The team selected “the best high school arm in the draft,” when it tabbed Mick Abel with the 15th overall pick.

After Martin, the team took two more college players, pitcher Carson Ragsdale out of the University of South Florida in the fourth round and power hitter Baron Radcliff out of Georgia Tech in the fifth round.

The Phillies don’t anticipate any problems signing any of these players. Bryce Harper personally welcomed all four to the organization with a FaceTime call. 

“That was an unbelievable thing to take the time and effort to reach out and congratulate those guys,” Barber said. “It was exciting for all of them.”

The Phillies dedicated the draft to Will Brunson, a member of their scouting staff who died at age 49 in the fall. Brunson, who pitched in the majors, covered south Texas for the Phillies.

The Phillies scouting staff will look to add more players in the coming days. Draft eligible players who were not selected in the abbreviated draft can be signed for $20,000 beginning Sunday. 

“Nobody knows how it’s going to work out,” Barber said. “We’ve been super aggressive accumulating information, reaching out to players, getting a list together. We don’t know how many are willing to sign or want to sign but we’ll be aggressive.”

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Watch Phillies Alec Bohm's loved ones' amazing reaction to his first career at-bat

Watch Phillies Alec Bohm's loved ones' amazing reaction to his first career at-bat

Phillies star prospect Alec Bohm made his major league debut at third base on Thursday night, a pretty big moment for the future of the organization. 

Things went wrong basically all night for the Phils - of course! - but the 24-year-old managed to smack his first career at-bat down the third base line for a double, quite a way to begin a career.

While his parents and girlfriend couldn't be in attendance at Citizens Bank Park because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, they were certainly watching. And, thanks to technology, we can watch their reactions to Bohm's first hit.

Here's what an MLB debut hit looks like in 2020:

Man, that's just the best. 

So much to love in a 41-second clip - Bohm's dad keeping his cool and noting the double; his mom's absolute exuberance; his girlfriend commenting on Bohm's smile - but my favorite part is the quote from his mom at the very end.

"Go baby go!"

Fantastic.

After an otherwise brutal night for the Phils, I'm going to just keep watching this video on repeat. At least one thing went right.

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Are the Phillies this bad? Phils 5-9 after being swept by Orioles at home

Are the Phillies this bad? Phils 5-9 after being swept by Orioles at home

For the third straight night, the Phillies blew a multi-run lead against the Orioles in the middle innings. And for what feels like the 30th straight night, the Phillies' putrid bullpen didn't come close to keeping the game close.

It resulted in another loss as the Phillies were swept at home by the O's, losing 11-4 Thursday with seven of those runs coming against the Phils' bullpen.

Jake Arrieta had been cruising and the Phils built a two-run lead on J.T. Realmuto's opposite-field home run in the bottom of the fourth. But the next half-inning, Arrieta lost his command and couldn't pick up the final out with the bases loaded.

The Orioles scored four times in the fifth inning, the biggest hit a bases-clearing double from outfielder Anthony Santander.

Baltimore tacked on seven more runs against the Phillies' bullpen, which has a 10.13 ERA. Phillies relievers have allowed 48 earned runs in 42⅔ innings, which seems almost impossible.

"You have to be able to pitch to win games in this league, and quite frankly we just haven't thrown the ball well," Realmuto said. "We haven't done well late in games, in particular, when we've needed it. To win a division and to get to the playoffs, you need a really good bullpen. That's an area where we haven't done that well so far. We've got the guys to do it, we've just got to get better."

The Phillies are 5-9. They have the second-worst winning percentage in the National League, ahead of only the Pirates.

"It's concerning," Realmuto said. "With this shortened season, we've got to get it going quicker. It's definitely being talked about in the clubhouse. We're trying to pick each other up and stay positive. If you have one good week, you're back in it. Especially in our division, nobody is really running away with it yet."

Bohm's debut

Making his MLB debut, third baseman Alec Bohm's first major-league plate appearance ended with a double down the third-base line. He struck out looking in his second at-bat and flew out to a step in front of the warning track in right field to strand two runners in his third AB. In his final at-bat, he drilled a ball to the warning track in right-center for a flyout.

Bohm was also involved in Baltimore's fifth-inning rally. Pedro Severino rocketed a ball right under his glove at third base. It was the second-hardest hit ball of the night to that point and was a tough play but still probably one a big-league third baseman has to make.

Prior to the game, Phillies GM Matt Klentak described the team's plans to integrate Bohm into the everyday lineup.

Bryce and J.T. do it again

The Phillies are 5-9 but they might be something like 2-12 without their best two players. Realmuto hit a pair of two-run homers Thursday night, giving him 7 HR with 17 RBI on the season. Both home runs came after an extra-base hit from Bryce Harper, who doubled and tripled.

Harper is hitting .356 and leads MLB with a 1.202 OPS. Realmuto is hitting .292 and slugging .729, third to only Mike Trout and Aaron Judge. Realmuto has three more home runs than any other big-league catcher despite the Phillies having played a handful fewer games than most of the league.

There is a very good chance this is the hottest Harper and Realmuto will be in 2020. It would be hard to be hotter. If that's the case, the Phillies wasted all of this production.

Arrieta's night

Arrieta appeared to be on his way to another strong start before that fifth inning. He followed six shutout frames against the Braves with four zeroes Thursday night, extending his scoreless innings streak to 12 before the Orioles broke out.

"There's no reason I shouldn't have been able to throw at least seven innings in that game," Arrieta said. "A couple of runs should have been enough. Giving up four in the fifth kind of took the wind out of our sails. That one's completely my fault. I had multiple opportunities to make a pitch and get out of that inning. Just wasn't able to do it."

Through three starts, Arrieta has a 4.02 ERA with 14 strikeouts and two walks in 15⅔ innings.

More bad bullpening

Debuting Connor Brogdon was welcomed to the Phillies' bullpen by allowing two homers and three runs in 1⅓ innings. The Phillies have nine relievers with an ERA over 8.00 and ended up using position player Neil Walker for the final two outs.

Up next

The Phillies welcome the Mets to town for a three-game series this weekend. Jacob deGrom is scheduled to pitch for the Mets in Game 1. The Phillies will go with Spencer Howard for his second major-league start.

Aaron Nola starts for the Phillies Saturday, while Zack Wheeler faces his old team Sunday.

After the weekend, the Phillies play 10 straight games and 20 of their next 29 on the road.

"We obviously haven't performed up to our standards, that's for sure," Arrieta said. "There's really no time to worry about it. We just have to play better. We already have to catch up quite a bit."

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