Thursday, June 2, 2011
Posted: 11:51 a.m.By Jim SalisburyCSNPhilly.com
Sometime Friday night, Phillies scouts will take a little break from their round-the-clock meetings and flip on the television in their war room at Citizens Bank Park. On the screen will be a reminder of why they spend all those nights on the road in search of talent that can help the team win championships at the big-league level.
The reminders name is Cole Hamels. He is the Phillies scheduled starting pitcher Friday against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Hamels has helped the Phils win four straight National League East titles and a World Series. His affiliation with the ballclub started nine years ago when the scouting staff called his name with the 17th pick in the 2002 draft.
Major League Baseballs annual first-year player draft begins Monday. Phillies scouts have been in town for a week, going over more than a thousand computerized scouting reports, having debates, constructing preference lists, administering private workouts and even sneaking off to watch a local talent or two.
All this in hopes of landing a player or two that, like Hamels, will help the Phillies win championships someday.
That remains our goal, scouting director Marti Wolever said.
If this years draft doesnt have the buzz of some previous ones, it might be because the Phillies dont pick until 39th overall, between the first and second rounds. They acquired that pick and No. 66 overall after free-agent Jayson Werth signed with Washington. The Phils next pick will come at No. 90, at the end of the second round. They lost their first-round selection after signing free-agent pitcher Cliff Lee.
Wolever likes this draft.
Its one of the deepest in years as far as talent, he said. Its loaded with all sorts of good things. The college pitching is good. Its a good year for high-school position players, and theres some good high-school pitching. Id say the talent is 2-to-1 high school over college.
Wolever said it was too early to know who the Phils would end up with at No. 39.
Things are still lining up, he said. Its really difficult to know. The 38 picks in front of us will determine a lot.
The first-round landscape, as always, is being impacted by finances signability as scouts call it.
The signability of a number of players will determine what type of draft it is, Wolever said. There are some unrealistic expectations out there and its permeating throughout the draft. What players and agents are looking for does not always match the talent. Its out of control and needs to be reeled in. Hopefully something can be done in the next collective bargaining agreement because were not doing a good job policing ourselves as an industry. There needs to be a line in the sand.
The CBA expires in December. Major League Baseball and the Players Association are discussing changes to the draft and signing-bonus reform.
Wolever said the Phils will take what they believe to be the best available player with their first pick. Balancing the players price tag with his talent is always a challenge.
Weve identified some players at 39 that are realistic about their abilities, but until you go through the process you dont know, Wolever said.
As for overall priorities, Wolever said hed like to get some catching, left-handed pitching, and a middle infielder or two, if we can.
Wolever was tight-lipped about the players that the Phils are targeting, but baseball sources say the scouting staff peeked in on South Jersey righthander Kevin Comer of Seneca High School this week. The Phils have serious interest in Comer, who has committed to Vanderbilt. Phils scouts have also closely monitored catcher Cameron Gallagher of Manheim Township High School in Lancaster County.
Other players that the Phils could be targeting include Illinois high school outfielder Charlie Tilson; Kent State lefty Andrew Chafin; Clemson shortstop and ACC player of the year Brad Miller; California high school catcher Austin Hedges; Las Vegas high school shortstop Jake Hager; Wyoming high school outfielder Brandon Nimmo; and Tampa high school righthander Jose Fernandez. Fernandez could be gone before the Phillies pick. His hometown Tampa Bay Rays pick have three of the top 32 picks and are targeting him.
The draft begins at 7 p.m. Monday night and runs through Wednesday. The first 60 picks will be made Monday night.
Pittsburgh has the first pick.
E-mail Jim Salisbury at firstname.lastname@example.org
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