The Phils took a high risk, high reward approach with the 15th overall selection in Wednesday’s MLB draft.
They chose Oregon high school hurler Mick Abel, considered by many to be the best prep pitcher available. The lanky 6-5 right-hander from Jesuit High School in Portland was named Gatorade Oregon Baseball Player of the Year in 2019 and 2020. Abel is committed to attend college at Oregon State.
During his junior season, Abel, 18, was 10-0, with a 1.26 ERA and 111 strikeouts in 72.1 innings. In 2019, he led Jesuit High to a state title and won a silver medal with Team USA in the World Baseball Softball Confederation U-18 Baseball World Cup.
“Mick has outstanding makeup and an above average repertoire of pitches for someone his age,” Brian Barber, the Phillies’ director of amateur scouting, said in a release. “He really knows how to compete, especially with his fastball. We believe he has a bright future with us.”
Some the TV analysts were effusive in their praise as well. I even heard comparisons to Astros ace Justin Verlander, a future Hall of Famer. In an article for NBC Sports Philadelphia, Jim Salisbury interviewed three scouts from rival teams who really liked the pick, too.
“High school pitchers are always a gamble and this year there’s more gamble than ever because nobody was able to get a lot of looks at kids, but I think this is a great pick,” one scout told Salisbury. “If I put myself in their shoes, I think they did a great job. He’s a No. 1 type. That’s the projection, both physically and with velocity and his total mix. The potential is total-package.”
Now for the risky part
High school pitchers are always risky choices in the first round, no matter how great they sound on paper or look on the mound. And when you add the lack of ability to scout, because of the pandemic, that only increases it. Last of all, the Phillies don’t possess a very good track record with high school players since they drafted Cole Hamels in 2002. That’s a long stretch of futility.
However – and this is the fan in me talking – I think Abel has a good chance to break that streak.