Phillies Again Prioritize Prep Players At Top Of Draft





PHILADELPHIA—The Phillies followed a familiar route with their top two picks in the 2012 draft, selecting a pair of high school pitchers, Shane Watson (40th overall) and Mitch Gueller (54th). This was the ninth time in the last 12 drafts that Philadelphia has selected a prep player with its top pick.
 
"Scott Rolen, Jimmy Rollins, Brett Myers, Cole Hamels—we've had a pretty good track record with high school players," said Marti Wolever, the assistant general manager in charge of scouting. "You really have to get to know the makeup of a high school kid, and both of these guys are very impressive.

"In terms of maturity and the way they handle themselves on the mound, these guys are ahead of some of the college guys we saw. They don't act like high-school 18-year-olds on the mound. They're composed, competitive and athletic. They both have a pretty good feel for what they want to do."
 
Watson is a 6-foot-4, 195-pound righthander out of Lakewood (Calif.) High who committed to Southern California.
 
"If a kid my age got offered $1.2 million to play baseball, I think he'd pass up college for sure," Watson said. "I mean, you tell me, would you take $1.2 million or go study in school?"
 
Watson struck out 79 in 53 innings as a senior. He has a plus fastball and curveball. Wolever compared the curveball to the one Myers, the Phils' top pick in 1999, had in high school. Watson doesn't lack confidence in the pitch.
 
"My curveball is like my Visa express card," he said. "I can use it whenever I want."
 
Gueller, a righthander from West High in Chehalis, Wash., gave up just four earned runs and 12 hits while striking out 70 in 43 2/3 innings this season. Also a top quarterback, he committed to Washington State. The Phillies believe he is signable.
 
Wolever compared the 6-foot-3, 205-pound Gueller to righty Trevor May, the Phils' top prospect who currently pitches for Double-A Reading. May is also a former Washington prep pitcher.
 
"We've seen Mitch up to 94 this spring, and he has a chance to have two or three above-average pitches," Wolever said.
 
Both pitchers are expected to open in the Gulf Coast League this summer.