Phillies' 2013 Draft class showing potential
Top picks Crawford, Knapp, Sandberg may still be a couple years away from Majors
PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies entered the 2014 First-Year Player Draft on a mission to select players that could make an impact in the Majors sooner rather than later. For a team that hasn't made the playoffs since 2011 and currently has the worst record in the National League, turnaround time with draftees became an important part of the criteria.
In the meantime, the Phils are excited about the names in their current farm system, although they may still be a couple of years away from tasting big league action.
Last year's Draft class, which includes top picks J.P. Crawford, Andrew Knapp and Cord Sandberg, respectively, is still a safe distance away from Citizens Bank Park.
The Phillies haven't developed a shortstop since Jimmy Rollins, but Crawford is giving Philadelphia a reason to be optimistic about that position in the post-Rollins era.
"[Crawford] should be a young player who's on an accelerated pace, but as far as when he's going to be ready, it's still too early to really give you a good assumption on that," said Phillies director of player development Joe Jordan.
"J.P.'s probably been a little bit better, a little bit quicker than our staff thought. He's really done a good job. He's been solid defensively. Plays very good shortstop. For me, he's hitting better than maybe I thought he would this early."
Knapp is another player who's been producing at the plate. The first college catcher to be taken in the 2013 Draft, Knapp's calling card was his bat, though the Phillies were pleased with his work behind the dish before he needed Tommy John surgery in October.
"He's going to catch sometime in the next week-to-10-days for the first time this year," Jordan said. "His arm strength program, that is almost complete. Again, looking at him hitting behind the plate, I liked what I saw last summer. I think he's got a chance to be a good catcher that can hit, so we're looking forward to him getting back."
Like Philadelphia's first two picks of 2013, Sandberg, who is playing for the GCL Phillies, still has a ways to go before he gets his call to the Majors. Philly's third-round selection last year, Sandberg was a two-sport star in high school and still needs time to find himself as a baseball-only athlete. According to MLB.com's scouting report, the 19-year-old "brings a football mentality to the diamond, and his makeup and work ethic should allow him to maximize his ability as he develops."
"Cord will be in Williamsport this summer," Jordan said. "I feel like he's progressed very well. I'm really excited to get him out and get him playing. He looks more and more like a baseball player every day. I think some of the things that we hoped would happen with him, those things are happening. He's been able to just play baseball, concentrate on our game."
To Jordan, one player in Philly's system is farther along than the rest and perhaps closer to making an impact in the Majors.
"The guy that probably stands out more than anyone is Cameron Perkins, who was our sixth-round pick in 2012 out of Purdue," Jordan said. "He's in Triple-A now, been there for less than a week. But I think what he's done to-date has been very positive. So I would say he's a guy that's ahead of the bunch."
Jordan also likes the potential of Roman Quinn, who was selected in the second round of the Draft in 2011. The shortstop out of Port St. Joe High School in Florida ranks fourth among Phillies' top prospects, according to MLB.com. The switch-hitter, who has dealt with a broken wrist and a ruptured Achilles in the past year, could end up being a dynamic top-of-the-order catalyst in the future, if he's able to stay healthy.
"I still think Quinn has a chance to be a phenomenal Major League player," Jordan said. "I still think he has a chance to be everything we hoped he be."
Erik Bacharach is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.