Friday, June 6, 2014

Phillies Refine Draft Approach, Take Two College Pitchers Early

The Phillies altered their typical early round approach this year, going with college hurlers for their top two selections. Choosing 7th overall, their highest pick in 13 years, the Phils chose LSU junior righty Aaron Nola. Additionally, in the 2nd round, the team picked lefty Matt Imhof out of Cal Poly with the 47th overall pick.

Nola, a First Team All-American, posted an 11-1 record along with a 1.47 ERA and a 10.37 K/9 mark in 16 starts. The Louisiana native enjoyed a tremendous college career, twice winning SEC Player of the Year honors while compiling a 30-6 overall record with a 2.09 ERA in three seasons. Nola, 21, stands six-foot-one and weighs 196 pounds. He is often praised for his precision control and is projected as a top-of-the-rotation pitcher.

Nola was previously selected out of high school in the 22nd round of the 2011 draft by Toronto, but did not sign. His college coach, Paul Mainieri, also coached Brad Lidge at Notre dame.

Recent players selected with the 7th overall pick include the Mets' Matt Harvey in 2010, the Braves' Mike Minor in 2009, the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw in 2006 and Troy Tulowitzki of the Rockies in 2005.

Readers can view video footage of Nola by clicking here.  Check out the media player below to see Nola and his loved ones watching his draft announcement.



After he was drafted by the Phillies, Nola had the following to say to the LSU Sports website:

"My heart has never beaten so fast in my life. I’m glad everything has been lifted off my shoulders, and I’m excited to go wherever they send me. It means so much to be a part of the Philadelphia Phillies organization. They have such a great history. Everyone knows Roy Halladay, one of the Phillies’ great pitchers. I’m excited to work with the staff and meet a lot of new people."

No word on who broke the news of Halladay's retirement from the game to the youngster.

Imhof, who stands six-foot-five and weight 230 pounds, posted a 10-4 record with a 2.45 ERA and an 11.24 K/9 mark in 15 starts for the Mustangs this year. Imhof is praised for his fastball command. The offering is most often clocked in the low 90's range. The 21-year-old reportedly also throws a slider and a change up.  Additionally, a key for Imhof is the deception in his delivery, which keeps opponents off balance.

Readers can view video footage of Imhof on the mound by clicking here

In recent years, the Phillies have often selected "toolsy" high school batters early.  Top selections that have yet to pan out include outfielder Larry Greene Jr., the first round pick from 2011, who has a .652 OPS in 196 career minor league games and 2008 first rounder Anthony Hewitt, an outfielder who was demoted to Class A Advanced Clearwater this week after batting .140 through 34 games with Double-A Reading.

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