Phillies looking to add another piece to their rebuilding core in draft

The Phillies' major-league rebuild began this offseason. The trades of Jimmy Rollins and Marlon Byrd signaled change. The trade winds will likely sweep through again this summer, when the Phillies will be looking to part ways with other veterans.

The rebuild at the minor-league level, however, began two years ago. And so far it has a strong foundation.

The Phillies enter the first-year player draft on June 8 with the 10th pick - their third-straight top-16 selection. Their last two first-rounders - shortstop J.P. Crawford and pitcher Aaron Nola - are flourishing in the minor leagues. When the rebuild is complete, Crawford and Nola will likely be joined at the core by the next two first-round picks. It should be the first time since 1999 that the Phillies draft four straight times in the top 16.

Johnny Almaraz, the Phillies' amateur scouting director, said this year's draft is heavy on high school talent. The Phillies drafted college players with their first seven picks last year. That is likely to change this year based on the talent pool.

A few mock drafts - including one released this past week by Sports Illustrated - predict that the Phillies will spend their first pick on high school catcher Tyler Stephenson. The 6-foot-4, 210-pounder from Kennesaw, Ga., is committed to Georgia Tech.

Baseball America ranks Stephenson as the draft's best catcher, high school or college. Georgia Tech head baseball coach Danny Hall said Stephenson reminds him of Baltimore catcher Matt Wieters, who played for the Yellow Jackets.

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"I believe that you take the best baseball player with the best ability, whether he's college or high school," Almaraz said this month. "With that being said, there's many high school players this year that have more ability than college guys."

Selecting Stephenson would fill one of the organization's biggest needs. They appeared to have their catcher of the future after acquiring Tommy Joseph from San Francisco in 2012. Instead, Joseph has been hindered by injuries.

If the Phillies do not go with Stephenson, they could choose from a handful of high school outfielders. An outfielder - especially one who hits for power - would also answer a need.

Baseball America's latest mock draft has the Phillies selecting Upstate New York's Garrett Whitley. The 6-2, 200-pound outfielder is committed to Wake Forest. Whitley is fast, has a strong arm, and can hit for power.

Sports Illustrated's mock draft has Whitley going later in the first round. The magazine projects Tampa's Kyle Tucker to be a more likely outfield candidate for the 10th pick. The 6-4, 175-pounder shows the ability to hit for power from the left side. His older brother, Preston, is a leftfielder with the Astros.

Another outfield option with major-league bloodlines is Daz Cameron, the son of former all-star Mike Cameron. Daz Cameron is projected by most mocks to be off the board by the time the Phillies pick. Just like his father, Daz Cameron plays the outfield like a hawk.

If not an outfielder or catcher, the Phillies could go with a pitcher for the second year in a row. Two Vanderbilt righthanders - Carson Fulmer and Walker Buehler - are projected to be selected around No. 10. Kolby Allard, a lefthander, should be around for the Phillies. The high school pitcher's senior season was cut short by a back injury.

Within two months of the draft, the Phillies rebuild will hit a checkpoint with July's trade deadline. More veterans will likely be jettisoned, with the hopes that more prospects come in return. They will join Nola and Crawford at the core. And this year's draft pick, the Phillies hope, will fit right in.