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Philadelphia Phillies 2023 MLB Draft Review


See Also: 2023 MLB Draft Database

Draft Theme: High Schoolers Lacking History & Power Arms With Control Questions.

If you scanned the group of high schoolers the Phillies selected at this time last year, you might not know several names. Both third-round outfielder Devin Saltiban and 11th-round catcher Kehden Hettiger were pop-up players this spring who weren’t on the national travel circuit much in 2022, while both first-round third baseman Aidan Miller and fourth-round outfielder TayShaun Walton are prominent high schoolers who missed key evaluation periods with injuries. Walton didn’t play much last summer, while Miller missed most of the spring season in Florida. There are many teams whose processes would simply not allow them to take players with such spotty or incomplete histories. The Phillies either do an excellent job attaining history on under-the-radar players, or simply trust the evaluations of their scouts whenever those occur—both is probably the answer. It’s also hard to not see that the Phillies love big arms, even if those arms come with massive control questions. Sixth-rounder George Klassen, 10th-rounder Cam Brown and 13th-rounder Marty Gair all exemplify that profile. 

Most Interesting Day 2 Pick: RHP George Klassen, 6th round

Klassen is one of the hardest throwers in the 2023 draft class and wowed scouts with his pure velocity in 2022 with Minnesota and during the summer in the Northwoods League, with a fastball that’s been above 100 mph at peak velocity. Klassen is still looking to refine his strike-throwing, though he managed a significant step forward in 2023 after walking a quarter of the batters he faced in a brief bullpen stint in 2022. He posted a 5.72 ERA in 56.2 innings, with an 18.6% strikeout rate and a 17.9% walk rate. Those numbers don’t give the 6-foot-2, 170-pound righthander credit for his arm talent, which is impressive. He averaged 97-98 mph on his fastball this spring, and touched 101 mph at peak velocity. Klassen threw the pitch for strikes less than 60% of the time, which limited its effectiveness, as could his moderate shape on the pitch. He also has a firm breaking ball in the mid 80s that has three-quarter shape and flashes an average look when he doesn’t leave it hanging, and he showcased a solid cutter in the upper 80s during the 2023 MLB Draft Combine which had short and hard glove-side movement. Klassen needs to improve his control and command across the board, and is a reliever-only prospect because of that, but his huge velocity provides an intriguing upside play.

Most Interesting Day 3 Pick: C Kehden Hettiger, 11th round

Hettiger is a switch-hitting catcher with a 6-foot-1, 190-pound frame and impressive raw power. He has filled out and added a significant amount of strength over the last year or so, and it’s translated into eye-popping home runs, particularly from the left side of the plate, this spring. Hettiger has a slightly wide stance from both sides of the plate, and does a nice job getting his foot down early and creating separation with his hips and shoulders, before shooting his hands to the ball with a quick, whippy and powerful swing. There’s a slight bat tip and hand hitch in his load that could create timing issues at the next level, but his bat speed and pitch recognition have been more than good enough against high school pitching to allow him to find the barrel and hit with authority. Scouts are impressed with his pure feel for hitting, particularly from the left side, and while he’s close to physically maxed out now, he should hit for solid power at the next level. There are more defensive questions with Hettiger. He has a solid arm that could be an asset if he’s able to stick behind the plate, but he’s a work-in-progress defender at the position now and might wind up at third base, first base or a corner outfield position. Hettiger is committed to Oregon and is old for the class. He will be a draft-eligible sophomore in 2025 if he makes it to campus.

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