A number of young Phillies prospects will begin making up some lost development time this weekend when the club opens its instructional league camp in Clearwater, Florida.
The camp, which runs through October, will offer club officials and instructors the first chance to look at the team’s 2020 draft class in an official team setting.
With no minor-league season this year, the club’s player-development and conditioning staffs spent the spring and summer instructing players and monitoring their progress through Zoom calls and videos.
So, it will be nice for everyone to see each other eye to eye and get some work in for a month. The camps generally include lots of instruction, instraquad games and games against teams from nearby camps.
The list of players at the camp is headlined by 19-year-old pitcher Mick Abel, the team’s first-round draft pick in June. The Phils selected the 6-5, 198-pound right-hander with the 15th overall pick and lured him away from an Oregon State commitment with a signing bonus of $4.075 million.
At draft time, Baseball America said Abel possessed “a tantalizing combination of present stuff, future projection and pitchability.”
Abel’s fastball ranges from 94 to 97 mph, with room to grow, and his slider and curveball are both considered plus pitches.
Phillies scouting director Brian Barber called Abel "a potential future workhorse and dominating presence at the top of a rotation."
On draft day, MLB Network analyst Dan O’Dowd, the former Colorado GM, gushed about the pick.
"I comped him to Justin Verlander, so that tells you how much I liked him," O’Dowd said. "It's a plus fastball, he commands it, a wipeout slider and, for me, I don't see max effort at all in the delivery. He does it easy. Developing changeup and he's got two plus pitches right now with plus command of them. This guy, for me, is the best-looking high school pitcher in this draft."
Player development is an unpredictable process that doesn’t happen overnight, especially in the case of a high school player. Abel’s process is really just beginning.
Because of the pandemic, MLB reduced the draft to five rounds this year. The Phillies had just four picks and all will be at the camp. In addition to Abel, the group includes third-rounder Casey Martin, an infielder from the University of Arkansas, fourth-rounder Carson Ragsdale, a pitcher from the University of South Florida and fifth-rounder Baron Radcliffe, a power-hitting outfielder from Georgia Tech.
Martin is an intriguing player with speed, power, arm strength and the versatility to play anywhere in the infield. He was projected as a first-rounder after a big freshman season at Arkansas, but slipped after a hand injury and some struggles at the plate.
“He’s an exciting, quick-twitch athlete who is full of tools,” Barber said after the draft. “Any time we can get middle-of-the-field players who competed at a high level like the SEC with speed and power, we’re going to be in it.
“We got a lot of looks at him his freshman year when he lit it up and we believe in the hit tool. We’re super excited to have him.”
Outfielder Yhoswar Garcia will not participate in the camp. The Phillies signed the 18-year-old from Venezuela in March for a reported $2.5 million. COVID protocols will prevent him from traveling.