Monday, May 2, 2011
Posted: 2:35 p.m.
By Jim Salisbury
When the Phillies beat the Mets on Friday night, it was a victory that extended throughout the organization, beyond the walls of Citizens Bank Park, all the way down to the area scouts who wear out baseballs backstreets looking for talent.
Vance Worley, 23, was the winning pitcher in that game, tossing six shutout innings just hours after being called up from Triple A. Mike Stutes, 24, relieved Worley in the seventh and turned in a scoreless inning as the Phils went on to a 10-3 win.
Worley and Stutes.
Stutes and Worley.
It seems as if the two righthanders have been joined at the hip ever since they were drafted in June 2008. Both came out of West Coast college programs Worley pitched at Long Beach State and Stutes at Oregon State. They both entered pro ball with excellent pitchability as scouts like to call it you know, smarts, savvy, maturity. That pitchability was the reason club officials felt comfortable jumping the pair from the South Atlantic League, a low classification of Single A ball, to Double A Reading in 2009, less than a year after they had been drafted.
Now, both are rewarding the confidence that team officials, not to mention the scouts who had recommended them in the draft, had in them.
Drafts cant be judged overnight. Sometimes it takes several years. So far, the 2008 draft is shaping up to be one of the Phillies most intriguing ever. Certainly, at the time it was billed as one of the most important in franchise history. After losing Aaron Rowand to free agency and failing to sign third-round pick Brandon Workman the year before, the Phillies had seven of the top 136 picks in that draft. That type of haul can help a team for years, if ownership is willing to open the checkbook and sign premium talent. Phillies ownership did just that in spending a team record 6.7 million on signing bonuses.
Heres why the 2008 draft is so intriguing: some of the picks in that draft, such as Worley (third round) and Stutes (11th round) have already helped in Philadelphia. Some of them, such as contact-challenged first-rounder Anthony Hewitt may never get to Philadelphia. Others, such as pitchers Jonathan Pettibone (third round), Trevor May (fourth round), Julio Rodriguez (eighth round) and Jarred Cosart (38th round) may one day help make up the next great Phillies rotation. And others, such as 20-year-old pure hitter Zach Collier (first round) still have time to make it if they can put things together. In Colliers case, that means staying healthy. He missed all of the 2010 season with injuries.
There are other ways that a draft and a minor-league system can help a team. In recent years, the Phillies have become a win-now organization. Two members of their 2008 draft class helped fuel that mind-set. Pitcher Jason Knapp (second round) was sent to Cleveland for Cliff Lee in July 2009. Lee, of course, helped pitch the Phils to the World Series that year. Last summer, another second-rounder, Anthony Gose, was shipped to Houston as part of the package for Roy Oswalt. Oswalt helped the Phils win the NL East last year, and the team hopes hell do the same this year. Gose didnt stay long in Houston. He was shipped to Toronto in a separate deal as the Jays were finally able to get the guy that they had coveted in July 2009 talks involving Roy Halladay.
The trading of Lee to Seattle in Dec. 2009 did not close the door on Knapps connection to the Phillies. The Phils got pitchers Phillippe Aumont and J.C. Ramirez, as well as outfielder Tyson Gillies, in that deal. Aumont has dazzled in a relief role at Reading this spring and Ramirez has also pitched well. The tentacles of the Phillies 2008 draft are everywhere and we havent even mentioned first basemandesignated hitter Cody Overbeck, who has eight homers and 22 RBIs in 23 games at Reading, or relievers Michael Schwimer and B.J. Rosenberg, both of whom have a chance.
So, as one can see, the 2008 draft was one to keep an eye on three years ago and it remains so now.
Worley had actually been drafted by the Phillies out of McClatchy High School in Sacramento, Calif. (Larry Bowas alma mater) in the 20th round in 2005, but he chose to go to college. He had strained his elbow in his last high school game that year. The Phillies wanted to see his work over the summer before signing him. Worley decided not to push it that summer, to let his elbow heal, go to college and take his chances three years later in the draft.
That looks like sound thinking now.
Worley was born in Sacramento. His parents names are Scott and Shirley. Shirley is Chinese. She was born in Hong Kong and moved to the United States as a child. All of this made Worleys victory in his season debut Friday night that much more special. It was AsianPacific tribute night at Citizens Bank Park.
E-mail Jim Salisbury at firstname.lastname@example.org
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