We’re coming into the home-stretch, and with less than a week before the Diamondbacks are finally forced to call a name, it’s time to start examining the cases for those players who have legitimate cases for the top overall selection.
We’ll be profiling our top 10 prospects: SS Brendan Rodgers, SS Dansby Swanson, RHP Phil Bickford, SS Alex Bregman, RHP Donny Everett, RHP Dillon Tate, LHP Tyler Jay, OF Kyle Tucker, RHP Jon Harris and OF Ian Happ.
Today, let’s take a look at Bickford.
Let’s get some facts out of the way first.
Name: Phil Bickford
Position: Right-Handed Pitcher
School: Community College of Southern Nevada
Previously Drafted: Drafted in 1st Round in 2013
You might recognize the name, and if so, it’s probably because Bickford is a former first round pick. In fact, he was selected with the tenth pick back in 2013, by the Toronto Blue Jays. The two sides couldn’t agree on terms, however, and despite rumors about something that was amiss in his medical reports, Bickford happily honored his commitment to Cal State Fullerton.
He pitched one year for the Titans, and was about as good as a freshman can be. He appeared in 20 games, started 10, and finished the year with a 2.13 ERA and a 74-to-13 K-to-BB ratio in 76 innings. Pitching alongside Thomas Eshelman and Justin Garza, it seemed as though Fullerton would have one of the most dominating rotations heading into 2015.
Bickford, however, had other plans.
Late last August, he announced his intention to depart Fullerton in order to be eligible for this year’s draft. He ended up at the Community College of Southern Nevada, a school made famous when Bryce Harper elected to leave high school early to enroll so he too would be eligible for the draft earlier than planned.
Like Harper, Bickford settled in quite nicely, and laid waste to the competition. Double-digit strikeout games became the norm, despite the fact that the right-hander rarely pitched past the sixth inning. In 16 starts for the Coyotes, Bickford went 9-1 with a 1.45 ERA and a ridiculous 166 strikeouts in 86.2 innings.
The scouting report on Bickford is glowing.
A fastball in the mid-90s. A slider that flashes plus. An improving changeup. Impressive command. And in a class that features a wealth of pitchers who check in around 6-1 and 190 pounds, Bickford (6-5, 208 lbs) impresses with his physicality
The Case for Bickford as the #1 Pick
We’ve been touting Bickford as one of the top prospects in this draft class for nearly a year now, and all he’s done since then is dominate junior-college hitters, show the same great stuff that made him a top-ten pick in 2013, stay out of trouble and stay healthy. So why do most draft publications have him projected in the 20-30 range?
His combination of size, stuff and attitude would seemingly make him a top-ten pick in any year, so we’re still puzzled as to why he isn’t regarded as highly as Tyler Jay, Walker Buehler, Jon Harris and Carson Fulmer. In fact, it’s already made him a top-ten pick in a draft that had much more talent than this year’s. His competition in 2013 included Mark Appel, Jonathan Gray, Kohl Stewart, Trey Ball, Braden Shipley and Hunter Harvey, each of whom could rank as the top pitcher were they eligible this year.
Let’s face it, the odds of Bickford going #1 overall are slimmer than any of the nine other prospects we’re making a case for, but if the Diamondbacks really are as unimpressed with this class as they claim to be, why not Bickford?