Friday, January 19, 2018
Sports

Phillies' plan for first pick still a mystery

PHILADELPHIA — Perhaps the Phillies still don't know whom they'll select with the No. 1 overall pick in the amateur draft tonight.

There's no Bryce Harper or Stephen Strasburg in this draft. Not even a Pat Burrell, who was chosen by the Phillies in 1998 out of the University of Miami, the only other time Philadelphia had the top pick.

Finishing 63-99 in 2015 gave Philadelphia its choice of the top amateur talent. But there isn't a consensus No. 1.

Florida LHP A.J. Puk and Mercer OF Kyle Lewis are considered strong possibilities. La Costa Canyon High (Calif.) OF Mickey Moniak, Louisville OF Corey Ray and Chaminade College Prep (Calif.) OF Blake Rutherford are in the mix. Barnegat (N.J.) High LHP Jason Groome was the front-runner months ago, but it appears the Phillies are no longer considering him.

Another top amateur, Puerto Rican SS Delvin Perez, tested positive for an unnamed performance-enhancing drug and is sliding down draft boards, ESPN reported.

"We have a small group of players, both position players and pitchers, that we're considering and we're hammering it out every single day," Phillies scouting director Johnny Almaraz said. "We're narrowing things down now and hopefully a few hours before (the draft) we'll be pretty much on target with who we want."

The Phillies stockpiled young talent through a series of trades over the past two years. Their rebuilding process has accelerated after a good start.

Still, Almaraz isn't planning to pick a college player over a high school player simply because he could be ready to play in the big leagues sooner.

"There's no pressure," Almaraz said. "We're doing our job to take the best player with the best ability."

Also, Phillies RHP Vince Velasquez left Wednesday's start after two pitches with soreness in his right biceps and will be reevaluated today.

METS REACQUIRE EX-RAY: New York acquired former Rays utilityman Kelly Johnson from the Braves for minor-league RHP Akeel Morris. Johnson, 34, was traded by the Mets to Atlanta in July 2015.

RANGERS: OF/DH Josh Hamilton had extensive season-ending surgery on his left knee, including reconstruction of the anterior cruciate ligament.

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