Phillies select RHP Andrew Painter in the first round of the 2021 MLB Draft

After taking two of three from the Boston Red Sox yesterday, the players and coaches were ready to enjoy their All Star breaks. Whether they were going to the game or just relaxing, it is a needed break.

However, there would be no break for the scouting department, as the 20-round MLB Draft is taking place this week. The year long preparation of the front office for the draft began last night, as round one took place in Colorado. With the 13th overall pick, the Phillies selected HS RHP Andrew Painter from Calvary Christian Academy in Florida.

Painter was arguably the best high school righty in the draft coming into this year. Jackson Jobe since passed him, but that more so had to do with Jobe’s performance. The first thing you notice about Painter is his size. At 6’7″ and 230 pounds, he has the prototypical frame for a starting pitcher. With most starting pitchers his size, it is very hard to consistently repeat their mechanics pitch after pitch.

Not with Painter.

Painter is one of the rare big-body pitchers who has an athletic and smooth delivery. He is able to repeat it fairly easily, giving him a chance for above average control and command. Not only does he know how to pitch, but he also has the raw stuff to pair with it.

Painter has a plus fastball that’ll sit at 93-95 mph, topping out at 96. He uses both a four seam and two seam grip for his fastball. He routinely utilizes an elevated fastball that will get a lot of swing and misses.

Painter pairs his fastball with two different breaking balls: a 12-6 curveball in the high 70’s and a tighter slider in the low 80’s. The curveball is currently better than his slider, and could be a plus pitch in the future. He rounds out his repertoire with a plus changeup, the pitch that really has me excited.

The Phillies followed the same type of philosophy that they did in last year’s draft. Mick Abel, a projectable righty with the knowledge of pitching, slid to 15 last year and is now one of the best pitching prospects in the Majors. Painter is not the same type of prospect that Abel is, but it is easy to dream about both players leading the Phillies rotation.

In a vacuum, Painter was a good pick at that spot. However, no one foresaw that SS Kahlil Watson, who many thought could have been picked 1:1, would still be there. Watson definitely would have blown up the Phillies draft plans financially, but he’s the type of player you do that for.

A 5’9″ shortstop committed to NC State, Watson is my favorite player in this draft. Watson is an explosive athlete who plays much bigger than his size. He has electric fast hands, giving him some serious raw power from the left side. His slide was probably due to signability concerns, but the kid can really play. He was there for the taking, but the Phillies passed on him in favor of Painter. It is only fitting, though, that Watson ended up with a division rival in the Miami Marlins.

Painter was the 2021-2022 Gatorade High School Player of the Year in Florida; a state that continuously produces high level athletes in a multitude of sports. That is an incredible achievement, more so when you take into account what state he won it in. Despite his size, Painter still has room to fill out. There is a chance that his stuff takes another step forward during his time in the Minors. Phillies scouting director Brian Barber scouted him personally seven times, saying he saw Painter touch 98 mph. All-time great and former Phillie Pedro Martinez compared him to a young Mark Prior.

The team passing over a talent like Watson will hang over him for the start of his career, but he does have the chance to quiet the critics with his talent. Any stumbling, however, and those critics will only get louder.

At the very least, the Phillies can add another pitcher to their stable of all-name pitchers like JD Hammer and Ranger Suarez.

All in all, I like the Painter pick, but I don’t know if I could have passed up Watson. Considering that the Mets (Kumar Rocker), Nationals (Brady House), and Marlins (Watson) all picked highly rated players that were falling, Painter will have to prove the pick to be the correct one.

He’s got the talent to do it. We just have to see how the Phillies’ pitching development staff will handle Painter.

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