The MLB Draft does not carry with it the same intrigue and popularity as the NFL and NBA drafts, but for Philadelphia sports fans, it should be just as important to follow.
The Phillies, after their lackluster last place finish in 2015 have the first overall pick in 2016. And speculation has been rampant that they would take Florida’s AJ Puk, a 6-foot-7 230 pound hurler from Iowa who was picked in the 35th round in 2013 but now, as a junior, he’s lighting up the college ranks.
ESPN’s Jayson Stark tweeted not long ago that he’s heard other teams tell him that the Phillies are “zeroing in” on Puk. Many other baseball insiders have been making the assumption that he would go No. 1 in June.
But the Phillespitching staff has been impressive thus far and it is also deep and young. Led by Aaron Nola and Vince Velasquez — each still in their early 20s, Philadelphia also has a few arms tearing it up in the minors who are blocked by the current MLB team’s stellar pitching.
Stark, via ESPN.com, made an interesting comment Tuesday afternoon:
Other teams say the Phillies appear to be backing off A.J. Puk at No. 1 in the draft & moving toward Mercer CF Kyle Lewis. This is the first time I’ve heard speculation about them taking anything other than a pitcher with that first pick.
Perhaps this move would make sense with the outfield an obvious weakness and the Phillies hoping to take a player who is not far from being big-league ready when they pick at No. 1. Lewis is batting .367 with 17 homers and 56 RBI in 54games for the Bears.
Puk has 71 strikeouts in 50.1 innings pitched for the Gators with a 3.04 ERA.
The baseball draft is less than a month away (it starts at 7 p.m. on June 7) and the Phillies will be considering their options as the day nears.