The third and final part of this series that looks at how bad drafting and development ensured that the Philadelphia Phillies’ run of dominance would come to a crashing end.
In Part 1 and Part 2 of this extended look at Philadelphia Phillies draft failures, we examined how the farm system slowly dried out while the big league club was a burgeoning dynasty, one that collected five straight division titles from 2007-11. Along the way, any potential that did exist in the pipeline seemed to be traded away for immediate help, something that really benefited the Phillies by allowing them to bring in players like Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Hunter Pence, and others.
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Still, underneath the surface, the lack of capable reinforcements on the way should have been a bigger point of concern.
We covered draft picks from 2003-2009 in the first two parts of this series, players who theoretically should have been making an impact or at least been reaching the majors just in time to keep the Phillies from falling off a cliff after the 2011 season. Now we’ll turn our attention to the years just after that, ones that really needed to produce some talent so that the Phillies’ down period didn’t last for too long. Unfortunately, though, the draft haul over this span of time also left a lot to be desired.
In 2010, the Phillies used their first round pick on lefthander Jesse Biddle. This looked good on paper, as Biddle is a Philadelphia native and seemingly had a chance to write a fantastic “local boy makes good” story. But life doesn’t always work out that way, and Biddle struggled with injuries and his confidence for several years in the minors before the Phillies traded him away in 2016. He finally made his big league debut in 2018 with the Braves, a sad state of affairs for his hometown team that drafted him eight years earlier.
At least the Phillies got something out of 2010 third-rounder Cameron Rupp, though the same can’t be said for the likes of other draftees that year such as Perci Garner, Bryan Morgado, and David Buchanan. When we get to 2011, however, we start to some light at the end of the tunnel. The Phils whiffed on first-rounder Larry Greene (who?), but they did scoop up Roman Quinn in the second round. Say what you will about the oft-injured speedster, but at least he’s still in the organization and has the capacity to contribute.
Subsequent picks unearthed Adam Morgan and Cody Asche, with the crown jewel of this draft coming in the form of Ken Giles (whom I recently wrote about) with the 241st pick. Based on this, I think we’d have to grade 2011 as the team’s best draft in nearly a decade. Of course, 2011 also marked the last year of the Phillies’ run of excellence, so these players were too little, too late to keep the ship from sinking. Then, in 2012, the Phillies’ bad draft luck returned, as only Dylan Cozens ever made the majors among the team’s top four picks.
JP Crawford was the team’s first selection in 2013, and I honestly don’t know what to make of that. I suppose it all depends on Jean Segura’s contributions over the rest of his Phillies tenure since Crawford was traded for him. Andrew Knapp was their second-round pick, and I’ve made my feelings about him well known. It’s only once you get to 2014 (Aaron Nola, Rhys Hoskins) that we start to see guys who are going to play an instrumental role in the next successful era of Phillies baseball. Hopefully.
Aside from what looks like a monumental swing-and-miss on Mickey Moniak, the last several years of drafting seem to have set the Phillies up pretty decently for the future. It’s probably not at the level of Utley, Hamels, and company, but it’s a lot better than it was a few years ago. If only the Phillies could have started getting a hold of higher-caliber players in the late 2000’s/early 2010’s, we wouldn’t have had to wait so long between winning seasons.
You have to appreciate the degree of difficulty in projecting how 18-year olds or college kids will perform years down the line, and I’m not even going to pretend to know what to look for. Yet, we still have to hold the Phillies’ scouting department and minor league system accountable for coming up short for an inordinately long period of time. Now, with all that in the past, it looks like it’s finally time for the Phillies to once again field a good team that includes numerous key home-grown players.