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How Gavin Tonkel Went From Off The Radar To A Phillies Draft Pick

The later draft has its proponents and its detractors.

Some say that it helps that college teams can finish their postseason without the distraction of the draft hanging over their heads. Others say that pushing the draft back makes July simply too crazy between the draft, prepping for next year’s draft class and the trade deadline.

Count Phillies ninth-round pick Gavin Tonkel, an outfielder out of Heritage High in Brentwood, Calif., as a strong proponent. He's a perfect example of the kind of player it has helped get seen.

If the draft had happened in early June, he wasn’t really on much of anyone’s radar. Some scouts Baseball America reached out to said they had never seen him play. Others said they had never heard of him. Another said he had seen him but hadn't turned in a report on him.

Yes, Tonkel had been a starter since his sophomore year at Heritage, but like everyone else, he barely got to play in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic. He didn’t hit a home run this spring for Heritage, but he did hit .400/.468/.600 with 10 doubles and two triples. He also stole 11 bases in 12 attempts.

That was not enough to put him on most team's draft lists. But a strong few weeks in scout ball playing after the high school year ended turned some scouts’ heads, enough so that the Phillies selected him with the 265th pick.

What the Phillies and other teams saw was a tall, skinny outfielder with plenty of projection remaining. He runs well and shows the potential for above-average raw power.

Tonkel was committed to Sacramento State. Now he has to make the decision of whether to head to school or go to pro ball. That’s a decision that didn’t seem like a concern for him not all that long ago.

Kyle Glaser contributed to this story.


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