It’s well past time the team selects someone who has a proven record of making others swing and miss and that person should be LSU right-hander Aaron Nola. They have the No. 7 overall pick in Thursday’s draft. They need a starting pitcher — their top area of need throughout the system — and the starting pitcher should be someone who has proven himself at the highest possible level and Nola fits all of those qualifications.
Realistically, the Phillies will probably not get a chance at the top-three rated prospects — San Diego high school pitcher Brady Aiken, North Carolina State lefty Carlos Rodon and Texas high school righty Tyler Kolek, but Nola could fall right into their laps and that would be OK because he could be better than all of those options.
Nola is a proven commodity against the highest level of college baseball competition. Going into the NCAA tournament this weekend, he was 10-1 with a 1.27 ERA and 127 strikeouts in 109 innings. Picking Nola would be the antithesis of the Phils’ recent failed philosophy of going after high school players with athletic skills but guys who have never proven themselves against higher levels of competition. That philosophy has saddled the Phillies with a lefty in Jesse Biddle, who currently is 3-4 in Double-A. No team wants a No. 1 pick who can only go 3-4 in Double-A, but it appears that the Phillies swung and missed on Biddle as well as power hitting outfielder Larry Greene, a high school outfielder from Georgia who was their No. 1 pick in 2011. Greene has been kicking around the low minors and it looks like he will never make it to even Triple-A.
This time, the Phillies cannot afford to swing and miss and must select someone who can make others swing and miss. That would be Aaron Nola.