Major League Baseball and the Players Union continue to play hardball in negotiations to start the 2020 season, and while there’s been a great deal of pessimism over the past few weeks, this has always been part of the natural negotiation process. Given the history between the league and the players this sort of knives out style of bargaining wasn’t hard to see coming.
I won’t sit here and guarantee baseball in 2020, but I will say with confidence that the hardball rhetoric we’ve heard from both sides of the table isn’t the red flag that it’s been made out to be. Progress—however incremental—has been made, and my guess is we’ll have a deal soon.
Nonetheless, while the 2020 season hangs in the balance, the Draft continued on business as usual (for the most part), with Matt Klentak and the Phillies selecting Mick Abel, an 18 year old right handed pitcher from Jesuit High School in Oregon.
6’5” 180 lbs.
Abel dominated at the prep level last spring (2019) going 9-0 with a 1.34 ERA, 0.90 WHIP over 57 innings. High school pitching is the least reliable pick you could make in the draft, but those are the sort of numbers you want to see. He’s committed to Oregon State but his stuff is obviously good enough to immediately start working through the minors.
Abel’s fastball sits comfortably in the mid-90’s, topping out at 97 with a high spin rate—rare for such a young arm. He throws both a four and two-seamer (w/ great sink), and can use both pitches up, down, and both sides of the plate. While the fastball is a plus, his calling card is what figures to be a wipeout-slider averaging mid 80’s with nasty movement —again, very impressive for his age. On top of a plus-plus slider he has a 12-6 curveball that’s considered an above average third pitch, and is currently developing a changeup to round out his arsenal.
The risk behind taking high school pitching cannot be stressed enough, but three plus pitches (developing fourth) and a high spin rate is hard to pass up at this range in the draft. His body will continue to fill out, and while his arm action has drawn concern from scouts, his windup appears to be low-effort and the ball has easy life out of the hand. Command is always a question with pitchers this young, but there’s no reason to think this is a real red flag for him.
The Phillies scouting department is being lead in a new direction by Brian Barber, and this is a clear indication that the organization is willing to be aggressive and take chances. There were some corners of the scouting world who believed the team would be averse to high school pitching given the high bust-rate, but that’s clearly not the case.
Abel has drawn comparisons to Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, and Noah Syndegaard. All lofty comps, and if he can come close to any of those molds I think the Phillies would take it. He has the tools and raw stuff to make a quick rise through the farm system, but don’t expect to see Abel anytime soon. Check out his arsenal below: