The Phillies started the year on quite a role, skirmishing with the Mets and Nationals - and Marlins, really - for the top spot in the NL East. Once the early season dust settled, however, things took on a more predictable appearance: the Marlins faded, the Phillies plummeted, and the Mets and Nats continue to duke it out.
But the premature success was a positive for the Phillies. GM Matt Klentak and president Andy MacPhail have stirred enthusiasm among the fans thanks to young players like Maikel Franco, Odubel Herrera, Jerad Eickhoff, Aaron Nola, Vince Velasquez and most recently Tommy Joseph, getting significant time to show what they've got.
As a rebuilding team, the MLB Draft remains a central point of the Phillies' 2016 season, as they hold the No. 1 pick. Naturally, this has led to months of speculation and mock drafts, and at different times the Phillies were supposedly drafting New Jersey high schooler Jason Groome or Florida's A.J. Puk. But the team has not made it clear just whose named Rob Manfred will call first on June 9.
According to Stephen Gross of the Allentown Morning Call, they are taking a broader approach.
Klentak made it clear though the Phillies aren't targeting a specific type of player or position with their top choice. They're going to select the player they believe is the best in the draft, the one who they think will have the best major league career — a good approach for a team that doesn't have too many positions set going into the future.
It's true that, when looking at the current Phillies roster, there are not too terribly many locks for the future. Franco is set at third, Herrera has made center field his own, Aaron Nola has looked more promising than originally thought, but the team still has a lot of space to fill. Some of that could come from options they already have, such as the encouraging bat of Joseph, or currently injured outfielder Aaron Altherr, to name two.
But in a draft without a Bryce Harper or Mike Trout and with so many spots to fill, Klentak's measured approach makes sense. Fortunately for him, the "best player available" strategy tends to net the most exciting results for the team picking with every name still on the board, and as they make their way through the subsequent 39 rounds, Klentak says he'll maintain the same strategy, while also focusing on players who would do well in the clubhouse as well as on the field.