This could be a steal. The Phillies snagged arguably the best high-school arm in the 2020 MLB Draft. A kid with high-90s gas and devastating slider. And a kid who’s been compared to Justin Verlander — yes, that Justin Verlander.
The kid is Mick Abel, from Jesuit High School (Oregon), a 6-foot-5, 190-pound right-hander who also wields a quality change-up and curveball.
Immediately, after the Phillies made pick, MLB Network analyst Dan O’Dowd drew the Verlander comp and called Abel “the best-looking high school pitcher in the draft.” MLB analyst and former player Harold Reynolds quickly chimed in: “The ceiling is high for this kid.”
Abel lost his senior season when the COVID-19 pandemic shut down high school baseball in Oregon, but he was overpowering his junior year, going 10-0 with a 1.26 ERA and winning the Oregon’s Gatorade Player of the Year in baseball. Comps are fun, so why not a few more. Abel has been compared to a slew of stud right-handers — Stephen Strasburg, Mike Soroko, Rick Porcello and Jack Flaherty.
Here’s a scouting report on the kid, according LastWordOnBaseball: Abel has the type of arm that you can only find in the top half of the first round if you’re looking for a pitcher. Scouts graded his fastball highest with a superior score (60) as the pitch typically comes in between 93-95 MPH. According to Perfect Game, Abel has a FB Velocity of 97 placing him in the 99.94th percentile for his class… The repertoire mixes in a quality changeup (55) and a decent curveball (50) which has the early makeup for a devastating pitch arsenal once polished. The Oregon State commit was already voted by scouts as having the best breaking pitch in his high school class thanks to the slider.
Abel has broken a Phillies’ trend of taking a college player in the first round. The last time the Phils dug into the high-school ranks for a No. 1 selection was in 2016 with outfielder Mickey Moniak, who also was the No. 1 pick in the nation. And you have to go back 2010 when the Phillies last chose a high-school arm with a first-round selection; that year they chose Jesse Biddle.
The Phillies also hope Abel breaks another trend of feeble first-round picks. Only one No. 1 pick by the Phils in the past 18 drafts — yes, 18! — has made significant contributions to the big club. That pick: Aaron Nola, who was the seventh overall in 2014. Outfielder Adam Haseley, drafted No. 8 overall in 2017, could also one day be a draft success story, but not yet.
Will Abel one day be a cornerstone of the team? TBD, of course. But the odds don’t look good. You have to zing all the way back to the 2002 draft when the Phils last took a high-school pitcher with their top pick, who actually impacted the team. Oh, the player they got in ‘02: Cole Hamels.
The Phillies won’t pick again till the third round. They forfeited their No. 2 pick when they signed Zack Wheeler in the offseason. So already, so much is riding the Mick Abel selection.