It’s uncertain when Mick Abel will be able to actually pitch in a game, but the Phillies’ first-round draft pick did officially begin his professional career on Wednesday by signing with the team after touring Citizens Bank Park.
Abel, an 18-year-old righthander armed with a fastball that can touch 100 mph, signed with the Phillies for $4.075 million, slightly north of the $3.89 million slot value assigned to the 15th overall pick. Under normal circumstances, Abel would be headed to Clearwater, Fla., to pitch in the rookie-level Gulf Coast League, but that league -- along with the rest of minor-league baseball -- is unlikely to begin this season due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Baseball America named Abel a first-team preseason All-American before his senior season at Oregon’s Jesuit High was canceled. As a junior, the 6-foot-5 Abel struck out 111 batters in 72 1/3 innings and posted a 1.26 ERA. He pitched last summer for Team USA and entered the draft as the top-ranked high-school pitcher by most rankings.
“I have a four-seam fastball; I have a two-seam fastball, a curveball, and a slider. I think my best offspeed pitch right now is my slider,” Abel said after being drafted earlier this month. “I’m able to throw it in any count, any quadrant of the zone. I feel like I’m able to manipulate it to the point now where it’s like I can make it more of a slurvy shape or I can get tighter spin or raise the velo to get that tighter spin, too. I’m a big competitor on the mound. I like going out there and trying to beat everybody that I can, whether it’s trying to strike guys out or just trying to get guys out in general.”
Abel was the first of four selections the Phillies made in the draft, which was limited this season to just five rounds. They have signed University of South Florida righthander Carson Ragsdale (fourth round), and Georgia Tech outfielder Baron Radcliff (fifth round) but have yet to finalize an agreement with Arkansas shortstop Casey Martin, who was drafted in the third round. That deal should be completed soon now that the Phillies know how much money they have left to spend after signing Abel.
“When I got the call, it was a pretty surreal moment,” Abel said of being drafted. “I’ve always dreamed of becoming a first-round draft pick. To be the first high school pitcher off the board, I think, it’s truly an honor. I’m very humbled to be able to receive this sort of honor. Over the last few months, over these last few weeks, it’s kind of been a grind. I’ve been working out a lot, just trying to stay in shape so I can get to this point in my career. It’s been a lot of Zoom meetings, a lot of talking to teams, but I’m glad it could pan out like this.”