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Revisiting the 2023 Phillies MLB Draft class after the conclusion of the minor league season.
Best Pure Hitter: Shortstop Aidan Miller (1) is probably more of a third baseman in the long run, but no one is doubting his hitting chops. He was one of the best pure hitters in the prep class, though an injured spring season in high school meant he didn’t get to show that ability as recently as his peers. His pro debut was excellent, as he slashed .303/.425/.379 between rookie ball and Low-A, with standout contact, chase and in-zone contact numbers.
Best Power Hitter: Miller would be another strong candidate for this category given his double-plus bat speed and raw power, but TayShaun Walton (4) is strong and physically mature with bat speed and big raw power as well. He didn’t homer in a short, five-game pro debut in the Florida Complex League, but his exit velocity data was loud and the best in this Phillies debut class. He averaged 93.6 mph in exit velocity and managed a 106.6 90th-percentile mark.
Fastest Runner: Outfielder Avery Owusu-Asiedu (9) is an above-average runner who went 24-for-26 (92.3%) in stolen base attempts with Southern Illinois this spring and covers lots of ground in the outfield.
Best Defensive Player: There are a number of Phillies hitters who are currently playing up the middle and might move to a corner position, but catcher Jared Thomas (15) seems to have the defensive chops to stick behind the plate, though he’s more of a solid-average defender than an elite one.
Best Fastball: The Phillies nabbed a few flamethrowing righthanders in this draft class, led by George Klassen (6), who averaged 97-98 mph this spring with Minnesota and has been up to 101.
Best Secondary Pitch: Righthander Cam Brown (10) has a great ability to spin the baseball and flashes a plus slider in the mid 80s. The pitch has two-plane break when he hits on it and generated a 45% whiff rate this spring, with spin in the 2,500-2,800 rpm range. It has plus potential with more consistency.
Best Pro Debut: Walton’s (4) debut was extremely loud and he managed an OPS of 1.221, which was great for a hitter who missed the showcase circuit last summer, but let’s go with outfielder and shortstop Devin Saltiban (3) who hit .333/.391/.452 in twice as many games.
Best Athlete: Saltiban (3) has an exciting combination of speed, power and arm strength that could allow him to impact the game in a number of ways, and the fact that the Phillies ran him out at shortstop in his pro debut speaks to his versatility in the field.
Most Intriguing Background: Saltiban (3) was not a high-profile prospect entering the spring, but he quickly became the best prospect from Hawaii and pushed himself up into the third round after a strong spring where he showcased a number of solid-average and above-average tools. He might be a split-camp sort of prospect given his history, but the Phillies were clearly among the highest on him. Saltiban also trained with Kolten Wong‘s father, Kaha, in Hawaii.
Closest To The Majors: Philadelphia has gone for high-risk, high-upside targets and invested heavily in the prep demographic in recent years. That doesn’t translate into a lot of “fast moving” prospects, though Miller (1) is both older for the class and has the sort of advanced pure hitting ability and physicality that could make him an exception to that general rule.
Best Day Three Pick (Or NDFA): Catcher Kehden Hettiger (11) was another lower-profile prep prospect who wasn’t a mainstay on the circuit a year ago, but he signed for $397,500 thanks primarily to a thunderous lefthanded swing and a chance to stick behind the plate.