Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Scouting the 2015 Draft: Phil Bickford

One of the stranger stories surrounding a potential high draft pick is about Phil Bickford.  Bickford was a HS pitcher who caught late helium in the 2013 draft and was picked at #10 overall by the Toronto Blue Jays, about 10-15 slots higher than most mock drafts were ranking him.  Bickford did not sign with Toronto(seems like Toronto leads the league in unsigned first round draft picks).  He enrolled at Cal State Fullerton where he had a successful freshman season:  6-3, 2.13, 76 IP, 13 BB, 74 K's.  He made 10 starts out of 20 appearances and seemed to get stronger as the season went along.  His velocity which had spiked up just before the 2013 draft, settled back into the 90-93 MPH range.  It spiked up again in the 2014 Cape Cod League into the 93-97 MPH range and reportedly hit 98 at least once.  He seems to gain 3-4 MPH on the fastball when he pitches out of the bullpen.  He also has a nice curveball and a developing changeup.

Then, this summer, Bickford announced he was leaving CS Fullerton for either indy ball or JC ball in order to gain eligibility for the 2015 draft.  Turns out he plans to pitch for the same JC in Nevada that Bryce Harper attended.  He has almost ideal pitcher's size at 6'4", 200 lbs.  With the ability to pitch in the mid-high 90's, he should once again be a high draft pick.  BA has him ranked #23 while Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs has him much higher at #5 overall.


  1. He looked pretty good in his videos.Where in the first round,do you see him going?

    1. Depends on whether he can maintain his velocity as a starter for the JC. If he does, some team will probably fall in love with him early. If teams see him as a future reliever, he could even slip out of the first round. I think teams will also want to know what all went into his decisions to not sign with Toronto then leave CS Fullerton early.

  2. Hmmm....kinda makes me wonder about the velocity spikes. They may have been "planned" since they were during his HS draft year and at the Cape Cod league, two periods of time when scouts are swarming. If the pattern holds he may show another velocity spike in JC. But I'm sure scouts are always a bit skeptical about prospects who show helium before the draft. Some are legit, others are suspect. I suppose that could be why there is such disparity between BA and McDaniel, who for much of the first round are generally closer in ranking. That said, I like Bickford. Even without the velo spikes he sounds like a pitcher with good stuff and a pretty impressive and unblemished track record. With his size and delivery I think good coaching could add a tick or two to his velo so he could sit at 92-95 to go with good secondaries. I'd be fine with the Giants drafting him and it would be interesting to pick up another Blue Jay signing failure two years in a row... which might be a sign the two scouting departments look for similar things in a pitching draftee (?)