Thursday, February 20, 2014

DRAFTGHAZI: Phillies accused of snitching on a pair of unsigned draft picks to the NCAA

The Phillies haven't had the best offseason from a PR standpoint, but most of that has involved turning Citizens Bank Park into Jurassic Park by signing players with stats from their days in the Paleolithic League to multi-year deals.
The storm that's brewing Thursday is a little uglier. Baseball America's Aaron Fitt revealed in this story that an Oregon State pitcher Ben Wetzler -- who was oddly referred to in some draft lists as Ben Holmes -- has his senior year in limbo while the NCAA investigates allegations that he violated rules by hiring an agent, as opposed to the legal wrinkle that allows drafted players to retain an "advisor" to deal with contract talks.
The allegation is that the Phillies, who drafted him in the fifth round, reported him. Not only that, but Phillies sixth-round pick Jason Monda of Washington State, also was reported to the NCAA, but was cleared of wrongdoing and is on the field.
Ruben Amaro Jr. deflected questions about the matter to scouting director Marti Wolever, who refused comment in the Baseball America story. Attempts are being made to contact him.

Wolever did make reference to Monda's situation when the Phils signed first-round pick J.P. Crawford, as Monda almost immediately rejected any contract talks and told the Phillies he was heading back to WSU.
"He agreed to the draft and then just changed his mind; he just decided to go back to school," Wolever said. (June 18, 2013)

This is the type of story that can do much more damage than one would initially consider on the surface. If there had been one player reported, it might seem like a legitimate gripe. The fact that the Phillies reported both of the top 10 round draft picks who rejected them makes it seem more like a vendetta.
And that can be an ugly, ugly stain as details of this become more clear. It can taint the wait college coaches and other players view the franchise. It's not good.
More to come.

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