For the second straight year, the Philadelphia Phillies drafted an athletic outfielder with a good eye at the plate with their first selection in Major League Baseball's amateur draft.
This year the club tabbed Virginia's Adam Haseley as the eighth overall pick. The 21-year-old hit .390 this past season at with 14 home runs and 56 RBIs. He also amassed 44 walks to go along with just 21 strikeouts.
"I believe he's going to hit anywhere between 20 and 25 home runs," Phillies scouting director Johnny Almaraz said of Haseley."He's a player who's got really good pull power. I've scouted him extensively. He's strong. He's a college player who still has projection, as far as his body and strength is concerned. His hitting ability is above average and when he gets stronger, that ball's going to travel some more."
The Phillies began scouting Haseley last summer when he hit .266 with three homers in 41 games while playing in the Cape Cod League. A two-way player in college, he'll step aside from pitching and focus solely on playing the outfield where he projects best in center.
Perhaps Haseley's best asset is his ability to work deep counts and avoid swinging at pitches outside the zone, a rare combination for a young hitter.
"It helps you in more ways than you think, being able to get on base when you're struggling. You can draw a walk and build some momentum with that," Haseley said. "It's something you have to put a lot of mental focus on. It's how disciplined you can be. It's something I worked on in the fall and it kind of rolled over into the spring."
Going with a college bat makes sense for the Phillies right now. Scouts contend Haseley could be major league ready by 2019, meaning he could play an important role in the final stages of the current rebuild.
"It doesn't feel real at all," Haseley said. "I just feel extremely grateful and blessed and I know the Phillies are an amazing organization. I'm just super excited to get started and go through the process."
Keeping with the college theme, the Phillies selected right-hander Spencer Howard from Cal Poly with the 45th pick in the second round. He has four pitches, three (fastball, slider, and cutter) that project as above average. Standing 6-foot-3, 205-pounds, it's unclear if he projects as a starter or reliever at the major league level.
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BY PATRICK GORDON
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