Phil Bickford Rumors

Phil Bickford To Pitch For Southern Nevada

Former Blue Jays top draft pick Phil Bickford will pitch for the College of Southern Nevada this season, MLB.com’s Jim Callis reports. The move to a two-year college will officially make Bickford eligible for next year’s draft. CSN is already known in baseball circles for being the school attended by 2010 top overall pick Bryce Harper.

The Jays took Bickford tenth overall out of high school in 2013, but the two sides couldn’t agree to a deal, and Bickford headed to Cal State Fullerton. His stock improved this summer after showing great stuff in the Cape Cod League, and he currently appears likely to go even higher than tenth overall next time he’s draft eligible — Callis notes that Bickford could be a candidate to go first overall. Had Bickford gone back to Cal State Fullerton, he would not have been eligible for the draft until 2016.

He had the best arm in the league,” says John Schiffner, an opposing Cape Cod manager. “He threw one of our guys a slider in a big situation, and three kids’ knees buckled in our dugout. And that’s not even his best pitch, because we saw 97 mph.”


Phil Bickford Leaving Cal State Fullerton, Eyeing 2015 Draft

8:51pm: In a full article, Rogers provides a bit more detail of the situation, noting that Bickford also dominated the Cape Cod League this summer and was named Perfect Game Summer Player of the Year. Rogers notes that he showed a much-improved changeup and slider over the summer and would rather test the waters of the MLB draft now than wait two more years by remaining at Cal State Fullerton.

7:23pm: Aaron Fitt of Baseball America hears that junior college is more likely for Bickford (Twitter link). Either way, this appears to be a clear indicator that Bickford is focused on entering next year’s draft and beginning his pro career.

7:00pm: Former first-round pick Phil Bickford, who elected not to sign with the Blue Jays as the No. 10 overall pick in the 2013 draft, will not return to Cal State Fullerton for his sophomore season and is strongly considering pitching in independent ball, according to Kendall Rogers of PerfectGameUSA.com (Twitter links). Such a move would allow Bickford to be eligible for the 2015 draft. Bickford could consider transferring to a junior college as well, which would also allow him to file for next year’s draft.

Now 19 years old (he will turn 20 next July), Bickford did little to harm his draft stock in what looks to be his lone year with the Titans. He fired 76 innings and turned in a 2.13 ERA with a 74-to-13 K/BB ratio. Bickford shot up draft boards heading into the 2013 draft. ESPN’s Keith Law noted at the time of the draft that he sat 90-93 mph with his fastball and touched 96 with a great pitcher’s frame, but his lack of a breaking ball was a red flag.

Bickford reportedly turned down more than $2MM from the Blue Jays, who received the No. 11 pick in this year’s draft as compensation for failing to sign him. Toronto selected Tommy John inflicted right-hander Jeff Hoffman and Kennesaw State catcher Max Pentecost with the No. 9 and 11 picks in this year’s first round.