Phillies hope to alter team fortunes with No. 1 pick

Phillies hope to alter team fortunes with No. 1 pick

PHILADELPHIA -- The first and only time the Phillies had the first overall Draft pick, in 1998, they selected Pat Burrell.

They could take another bat tonight.

The 2016 MLB Draft will take place tonight through Saturday, beginning with the Draft preview show on MLB Network and MLB.com on tonight at 6 ET. Live Draft coverage from MLB Network's Studio 42 begins at 7 p.m., with the top 77 picks being streamed on MLB.com and broadcast on MLB Network. MLB.com's exclusive coverage of Day 2 begins with a live Draft show at 12:30 p.m. on Friday, with exclusive coverage of Day 3 beginning at 1 p.m. on Saturday.

MLB.com's coverage includes Draft Central, the Top 200 Draft Prospects list and Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of more than 1,500 Draft-eligible players. Every selection will be tweeted live from @MLBDraftTracker, and you can also keep up to date by following @MLBDraft. And get into the Draft conversation by tagging your tweets with #mlbdraft.

The Phillies could use as many quality hitters as possible in their system, although they also cannot be picky. That is why many believe the Phillies will select Florida left-hander A.J. Puk with the first pick, while sources have indicated recently that they are focusing on hitters.

Here's how the Draft is shaping up for the Phillies, whose first selection is the No. 1 overall pick.

In about 50 words
There is no consensus No. 1 pick, which is why the Phillies' pick remains up in the air. Puk had been the smart bet since last fall, but the Phillies are looking at hitters because they might sign for less, which would allow the Phillies to use the money saved to acquire better talent in the later rounds.

The scoop
The Phillies have narrowed their choices to these seven players: Barnegat (N.J.) High School left-hander Jason Groome, Mercer University outfielder Kyle Lewis, La Costa Canyon (Calif.) High School outfielder Mickey Moniak, Puk, Louisville outfielder Corey Ray, Chaminade (Calif.) College Prep outfielder Blake Rutherford and Tennessee third baseman Nick Senzel.

First-round buzz
Nobody has separated himself from the pack, so the Phillies are looking for the perfect combination of talent and price tag. For example, if the Phillies consider Players A, B and C to be similar in talent, but Player C can be signed for less money, it could push him to the top because the Phillies could use the money saved there to select more talented (and pricier) picks in the second round and beyond. It makes sense for a rebuilding team like the Phillies to build the deepest, most competitive Draft class possible.

Top 2016 MLB Draft Prospects

Money matters
The Phillies have $13,405,200 in their bonus pool, including $9,015,000 allotted for the No. 1 pick.

Under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, each team has an allotted bonus pool equal to the sum of the values of that club's selections in the first 10 rounds of the Draft. The more picks a team has, and the earlier it picks, the larger the pool. The signing bonuses for a team's selections in the first 10 rounds, plus any bonus greater than $100,000 for a player taken after the 10th round, will apply toward the bonus-pool total.

Any team going up to five percent over its allotted pool will be taxed at a 75-percent rate on the overage. A team that overspends by 5-10 percent gets a 75-percent tax and loses its a first-round pick the following year. A team that goes 10-15 percent over its pool amount will be hit with a 100-percent penalty on the overage and the loss of a first- and second-round pick. Any overage of 15 percent or more gets a 100-percent tax plus the loss of first-round picks in the next two Drafts.

Shopping list
The rebuilding Phillies could use a little bit of everything, but Phillies amateur scouting director Johnny Almaraz has always loved hitters. The Phillies certainly could use some.

Trend watch
Almaraz took seven hitters among the first 10 picks in last year's Draft, which was his first with the organization. That is not exactly a trend, but it is worth noting as sources have said the Phillies are zeroing in on hitters.

Recent Draft history

Top Prospects: Crawford, PHI

Rising fast
The Phillies selected shortstop J.P. Crawford with the 16th overall pick in the 2013 Draft. The 21-year-old recently received a promotion to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. He could be in the big leagues before the end of the season, although he has struggled early with the IronPigs.

• Phillies' Top 30 prospects

In The Show
The Phillies selected Aaron Nola with the seventh overall pick in the 2014 Draft, and he has established himself as a key piece to the Phillies' future.

The Phillies' recent top picks
2015: Cornelius Randolph, OF, Class A Lakewood
2014: Nola, LHP, Phillies
2013: Crawford, SS, Lehigh Valley
2012: Shane Watson, RHP, Class A Clearwater
2011: Larry Greene, OF, retired

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Read his Phillies blog The Zo Zone, follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.