The third overall pick sounds so enticing. That's the selection the 76ers used on Joel Embiid. It's the pick the Baltimore Orioles used to get Manny Machado and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays used to secure Evan Longoria.
What could possibly go wrong?
Plenty, of course, is always the answer whenever you're talking about any draft. The Sixers also used the third overall pick on Jahlil Okafor, and the year before the Orioles took Machado, the San Diego Padres selected Donavan Tate at No. 3.
>>READ MORE: Six prospects the Phillies could pick at No. 3
With the third overall pick, which is where the Phillies select Monday night in the MLB draft, the expectations are for a future superstar. The reality is something far different. Discounting the last three drafts in which the third overall picks were high schoolers who cannot yet be evaluated, a total of 50 players have been selected with the third overall pick since 1965. Eight of them, including former Redskins quarterback Jay Schroeder, never made it to the major leagues. Nine others had a negative career WAR during their brief big-league careers.
Only the Milwaukee Brewers have mastered the art of selecting third overall. They took Hall of Famer Robin Yount in 1973 and Hall of Famer Paul Molitor four years later. The Phillies have used third overall selections on Lonnie Smith, Mike Lieberthal and Larry Christenson, which is actually outstanding work when you examine the list of No. 3 overall picks.
Anyway, the Phillies are up third again and they will be confronted with a difficult decision shortly after 7 p.m. Monday. All indications are that the Detroit Tigers will take Auburn righthander Casey Mize with the first overall selection.
Two months ago, Florida righthander Brady Singer was the consensus No. 2 pick, and if you look at his body of work with the Gators this season – 11-1 with a 2.27 ERA and 98 strikeouts in 95 innings – there was no reason for him to slip. But now, according to an American League scout, the San Francisco Giants are looking more strongly at Georgia Tech catcher Joey Bart and even considering taking California high school righthander Cole Winn at a discounted price in the hope of using their bonus money in a later round on a high schooler who might otherwise opt to use his college scholarship.
The point is that Singer, who was considered by many to be the best pitcher in the draft before the start of the college season, will likely be available with the third overall selection. The strength of the 2018 Phillies, of course, is pitching, and the weakness is an offense that fell asleep Friday and Saturday in San Francisco. But show me a baseball front-office person who thinks he has enough pitching and I'll show you the real Santa Claus.
"I'd take Singer if I was them," an American League scout said. "He's a little bit like [Aaron] Nola in that he is very competitive, he throws strikes and his stuff is above average, especially his fastball. He has a chance to be a middle-of-the-rotation guy, if not better than that, and it could happen fast."
The scout said he'd also consider taking Bart, who had 16 home runs for Georgia Tech this season, because power-hitting catchers like that do not come along every day. The Phillies, however, believe they already have a young catcher with that kind of potential in Jorge Alfaro.
Singer, a 21-year-old junior, was a second-round pick by the Toronto Blue Jays as a senior at Eustis High School near Orlando. There has been speculation that his unconventional mechanics have caused his draft stock to slip slightly this season, but those who have watched him also say his change-up has improved. His numbers, meanwhile, have been more dominant than ever.
Should the Phillies opt to go with a position player instead, it appears they will have to choose between Wichita State third baseman Alec Bohm and Oregon State second baseman Nick Madrigal.
"I like Madrigal because he brings so much energy to a ballclub and he is an offensive weapon at second base," the scout said. "But I don't think the Phillies will take him because he's too much like [Scott] Kingery. Bohm is a big power bat at a premium position."