Will 2020 first-round draft pick be lucky 15 for the Phillies?

 In MLB, Sports

COVID-19 forced major changes in this year’s draft, shortening it to five rounds. Normally, the draft runs 40 rounds. This year, players not chosen in the first 160 picks can sign with any team. So there could be some major steals among amateur free agents, especially since guys haven’t played in a while, and more than a few might turn out to be late bloomers.

The Phillies select 15th overall, and then pick again in rounds three, four and five. They surrendered their second-rounder by signing free agent pitcher Zack Wheeler from the New York Mets. The draft starts June 10, with the first round.

Will history repeat itself?

Twenty years ago, the Phils chose 15th as well. And they hit the jackpot, selecting second baseman Chase Utley from UCLA.

Here are some of the names linked to the Phillies in 2020 mock drafts.

  1. Right-handed pitcher Nick Bitsko from Central Bucks East. The 6-4, 225 pounder committed to play at Virginia. And this wouldn’t just be a case where the Phils are giving Bitsko a good look because he’s local. He’s ranked as the 14th best overall prospect in the draft.
  2. Right-handed catcher/third baseman Tyler Soderstrom from Turlock High in California. Committed to UCLA, he is the son of former major leaguer Steve Soderstrom. The younger Soderstrom is rated the 19th best draft prospect.
  3. Outfielder Garrett Mitchell of UCLA. The 6-3, 204 pounder, ranked sixth overall among draft prospects, possesses the speed to patrol center field. Diagnosed in third grade with Type 1 diabetes, Mitchell showed he “can be a premium athlete while dealing with the disease,” the MLB.com scouting report said.

The lesson of Bob Clarke

It’s unusual for someone with the skills of Mitchell to drop to 15th, but if some teams are scared off by his diabetes, he could be there for the Phils. Clubs would be wise to remember the case of Bob Clarke. In 1969, Clarke was one of the best prospects in junior hockey, but NHL franchises bypassed him in the first round because of his Type 1 diabetes. Even after doctors said Clarke could play pro hockey as long as he managed his condition, which he did. The Philadelphia Flyers took Clarke in the second round. A longtime captain with the Flyers, he led the Broad Street Bullies to a pair of Stanley Cups and was voted into the NHL Hall of Fame.

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