Phillies focus on pitching in draft

Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. (Charlie Neibergall/AP)

The Phillies had a definite theme in the first two days of Major League Baseball's first-year player draft: going for college players with an emphasis on pitching.

Through two days, nine out of their 10 picks were college players. Five of those college players are pitchers.

The Phillies drafted LSU righthander Aaron Nola in the first round and Cal Poly lefthander Matt Imhof in the second round Thursday.

With their first pick of the day in the third round Friday, the Phillies took Aaron Brown, a centerfielder from Pepperdine. He was selected 81st overall. Even though Brown was known more as a pitcher, the Phillies project him as an outfielder, which is fine with Brown.

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"I think that is what I really want to do and get better at," Brown said in an interview the school provided to The Inquirer. "For them to believe in that ability is awesome."

Heading into the NCAA Super Regional this weekend, Brown was hitting .310 with 12 home runs and 47 RBIs. The lefthander is 12-1 with a 2.07 ERA and has 100 strikeouts and 38 walks in 1082/3 innings.

The junior was selected in the 30th round last season by the Cleveland Indians as a draft-eligible sophomore.

The Phillies' fourth-round pick was Arkansas righthander Chris Oliver. On Tuesday, Oliver was arrested on a charge of driving while intoxicated. He has a July 11 court date.

The 6-foot-4 junior went 9-4 with a 2.51 ERA. He recorded 59 strikeouts and walked 36 in 931/3 innings.

The fifth-round pick was first baseman Rhys Hoskins from Sacramento State. A righthanded batter, the 6-4, 225-pound Hoskins hit .319 with 12 home runs, 53 RBIs and a 1.001 OPS.

Brandon Leibrandt, a lefthander from Florida State who had an injury-plagued junior year, was the Phillies' sixth-round selection. He is the son of former MLB pitcher Charlie Leibrandt.

This year he appeared in only six games because of a bone bruise in his left knee in March. He was 4-1 with a 1.83 ERA in 391/3 innings.

Shortstop Emmanuel Marrero was the seventh-round pick. The switch-hitter from Alabama State is known more for his defense after batting .329 this season.

After seven straight college choices, the Phillies drafted 6-7 righthander Sam McWilliams from Beech High in Hendersonville, Tenn., in the eighth round.

The Phillies finished the day by taking two college seniors: Temple righthander Matt Hockenberry, who was 5-6 with a 3.18 ERA, in the ninth round and Texas Arlington outfielder Matt Shortall in the 10th. Shortall hit .344 with 10 home runs and 57 RBIs.

The draft concludes with Rounds 11-40 Saturday.