The second installment in a three-part series examining how draft shortcomings led to years of bad baseball for the Philadelphia Phillies.
In Part 1 of this series, we detailed the many draft misses of the Philadelphia Phillies between 2003 and 2006 even as the team on the field ramped up its performance, setting the stage for what would become an unprecedented run of success in the team’s history. Now, we turn our attention to the Phillies’ draft record during the years when they began winning division titles, supplying further evidence of why the Phils would crash back down to earth so spectacularly since they had no help from within their system.
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In the 2007 draft, the Phillies had the 19th overall pick, and they used it on standout college pitcher Joe Savery. No doubt the Phillies thought that Savery could pair with Cole Hamels for a dynamite 1-2 left-handed punch atop the rotation in short order, but things didn’t exactly work out that way. Savery didn’t get to the majors until 2011, and then only as a reliever. He never started a game in his MLB career, with the Phillies finally waiving him in 2014.
Travis d’Arnaud and Michael Taylor were supposed to be future pieces, and the Phillies at least made use of them by sending them to Toronto along with Kyle Drabek (discussed in Part 1) for Roy Halladay. Thankfully, none of these players has gone on to make the Phils regret the decision. As for the rest of their 2007 draft, only Jake Diekman ever made an iota of an impact.
The Phillies would turn their attention to shortstop in the first round of the 2008 draft, selecting Anthony Hewitt as Jimmy Rollins’ presumed successor down the road. But he never cracked a major league roster. They also got nothing out of Zach Collier, but were at least able to package Anthony Gose in the Roy Oswalt trade. They made out ok with Vance Worley (whom they were drafting for the second time after taking him previously in 2005), but the rest of the draft was a throwaway. Looking at you, Jonathan Pettibone.
All along the way, nobody was noticing the state of the farm system because the Phillies were tasting October glory. Who cared about the future at that point?
Success on the field, of course, means that your draft position isn’t very good, so the Phils had to contend with that. Plus, even the top picks can be a crapshoot. Still, hindsight shows that the team looked like it had absolutely no idea what it was doing with its selections during this time period.
Victims of their own success, the Phillies didn’t select until the 75th pick in 2009, when they took Kelly Dugan. Yes, THE Kelly Dugan. Subsequent rounds brought them luminaries such as Kyrell Hudson, Adam Buschini, Matt Way, and Steven Inch. The only players of consequence that they unearthed later on were Korean league phenom Aaron Altherr and perennial hanger-on Darrin Ruf.
That would close the book on a decade of Phillies drafts that started with them assembling pieces of a championship roster with selections like Chase Utley, Cole Hamels, and Ryan Howard but which concluded with players who couldn’t even crack a major league roster. You can call it bad luck coupled with increasingly lower draft slots thanks to the team being good. But you really have to wonder about the approach of Marti Wolever and the rest of the Phillies’ scouting department. When we wrap things up in Part 3, we’ll go even deeper into the demise of the Phillies’ farm system, the final nail in the coffin for the team’s run of dominance.