Phillies sign No. 7 overall draft pick Aaron Nola


LSU right-hander and No. 7 overall draft pick Aaron Nola has agreed to a contract with the Phillies, the team announced.

Nola has a chance to be one of the first–and perhaps the first–player from the draft class to reach the majors because he’s a polished college starter with excellent control and incredible overall numbers against good competition.

He was considered a consensus top-10 talent in the draft class after going 11-1 with a 1.47 ERA and 134/27 K/BB ratio in 116 innings for LSU this season. He was also 12-1 with a 1.57 ERA and 122/18 K/BB ratio in 126 innings last season.

Those are about as good as numbers can get in major conference college baseball and Nola is hardly a soft-tossing control artist with poor raw stuff. He can reach the mid-90s with his fastball and has a chance to be a top-of-the-rotation starter.

2014 MLB Draft: Picks 6-10 – Phillies think short-term with Aaron Nola


No. 6 pick: Mariners select high school outfielder Alex Jackson
It’s the first time the Mariners have selected a high school player with their first pick since Nick Franklin in 2009. Jackson was primarily a catcher in high school, but the Mariners announced him as an outfielder, which doesn’t come as much of a surprise. His bat should develop more quickly freed from the responsibility of catching, and he has big-time potential as a power hitter.

No. 7 pick: Phillies select LSU right-hander Aaron Nola
This was a predictable pick; the Phillies don’t want to rebuild, and Nola is a guy who will move quickly. He went 11-1 with a 1.47 ERA and a 134/27 K/BB ratio in 116 1/3 innings for LSU this season. Nola throws in the low-90s with a plus changeup and a slider. He could become a No. 3 starter in short order.

No. 8 pick: Rockies select Evansville left-hander Kyle Freeland
Evansville is returning home to Colorado after going to college in Indiana. After two years of very modest numbers, the left-hander was 10-2 with a 1.90 ERA and a 128/13 K/BB in 99 2/3 innings this year. He throws in the low-90s and has an excellent slider, and the Rockies will hope those two offerings are good enough to keep him out of the pen for the long haul.

No. 9 pick: Blue Jays select East Carolina right-hander Jeff Hoffman
Hoffman was in the running to become the top overall pick before requiring Tommy John surgery. He’ll miss most or all of next season, but that’s not as much as a hit to a prospect’s stock as it used to be, if only because the assumption now is that most of the alternatives are going to need surgery somewhere down the line anyway. Hoffman threw in the mid-90s with an excellent curveball before getting hurt.

No. 10 pick: Mets selected Oregon State outfielder Michael Conforto
Conforto has ample power potential from the left side of the plate, though his swing produced just seven homers in 203 at-bats this season. He did hit .345/.504/.547 overall, so it’s certainly not like he had a bad year. He won’t be a plus in the outfield — he’s likely to be limited to left — so he’ll have to hit his way to the majors. He was one of the most advanced bats available, though.

Phillies release Aaron Cook

aaron cook reuters

Satisfied with their rotation depth and not wanting to pay him a $100,000 assignment bonus to pitch at Triple-A, the Phillies released veteran starter Aaron Cook.

Cook hasn’t posted an ERA under 5.00 since 2009 and last season had more walks (21) than strikeouts (20) in 94 innings for the Red Sox.

He should be able to latch on somewhere at Triple-A and potentially pitch his way back to the majors as a fill-in starter, but there are an awful lot of similar veterans hitting the open market this week.

The Phillies sign Aaron Cook

Aaron Cook

The Phillies have signed Aaron Cook to a minor league deal, reports Jon Paul Morosi. If he makes the bigs he’ll make $1.625 million.

Not a bad gamble at that price. Though I’m skeptical that he’ll be particularly useful. He has become a near-historically bad pitcher in terms of strikeout rate. Which he somehow, quite amusingly actually, got away with for a little while last season with the Red Sox.

But only for a little while. By the time the year was over he had an ERA of 5.65, and striking out fewer than two batters per nine innings had an awful lot to do with that. He hasn’t had an ERA below 5.00 since 2009.

But he’s an arm, can induce some ground balls when he’s on and there’s no harm having him around if the commitment, like this one, is small.


Phillies add Aaron Heilman on minor league deal

Aaron Heilman

Looking to add depth to a bullpen that’s been hit hard by injuries this season, the Phillies signed Aaron Heilman to a minor league contract on Thursday, CSNPhilly’s Jim Salisbury reports.  He’ll step into a Triple-A Lehigh Valley relief corps that just lost Jason Grilli to the Pirates.

Heilman was cut by the Diamondbacks after amassing a 6.81 ERA in 35 1/3 innings this season.  The stats, however, say he wasn’t nearly that bad.  He had 33 strikeouts versus just 11 walks, but he was doomed by giving up eight homers, which is twice as many as one would have expected based on his career rate.

Heilman’s velocity is down a bit this year, but he’s continued to get plenty of swings and misses.  He’s still a decent enough bet as a sixth- and seventh-inning guy, and the Phillies might want to go ahead and release Danys Baez to make room for him after he gets a few innings under his belt.