Introducing Braden Shull

Most years, the Phillies have a player or two who they hope to lure out of a college commitment. A couple of years ago, they worked out Jon Pettibone at Dodgers Stadium, hoping to convince him to forgo a scholarship to Southern Cal. It worked, although a signing bonus in the neighborhood of half a million dollars probably had something to do with it. Another year, the target was a kid named Kyrell Hudson who was going to play football at Oregon State. Pettibone is having some success this season at Class A Clearwater, while Hudson struggled last year in his first full season in the system, hitting under .200 with an OPS under .450 at rookie league Williamsport. He is off to a better start this season, but the season has just begun.

Anyway, this year's target appears to be an 18-year-old kid named Braden Shull. He's a 6-foot-6 lefty from Iowa who made the four-hour drive to St. Louis with his family to meet with the Phillies. He threw a bullpen session in front of pitching coach Rich Dubee, manager Charlie Manuel, assistant GM Benny Looper and scout Gordon Lakey. He has a really smooth delivery: think Cole Hamels, gliding from his set into his wind-up and through to the plate, his his leg kicking high into the air. The reports on him right now say his fastball is 88-90, but obviously that projects upwards as he fills out and builds his arm strength. His secondary stuff is really raw: even from 200 yards away in the press box you could see him babying his off-speed pitches, guiding them to the plate rather than throwing them.

But the Phillies like him a lot, and feel they have a shot at convincing him to forgo a scholarship to Kansas State. These things usually come down to money, and that won't likely be decided for awhile. Iowa plays its high school baseball in the summer, so the Phillies can't even begin talking about a contract with him until after the conclusion. You probably won't hear much more about him until closer to the mid-August deadline to sign draft picks.

Shull was a 27th-round pick, which is the neighborhood a lot of players are drafted when teams are unsure about their ability to sign them. Keep in mind that Pettibone was a third-round pick.

So that's the prospect news of the day. Nothing major, but something different to spice up your daily talk about the Phillies' offense and pitching.

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