Baseball America's Aaron Fitt is reporting that the Phillies notified the NCAA that a pair of their 2013 draftees — fifth-rounder Ben Wetzler and sixth-rounder Jason Monda — were both in violation of the "no agent" rule after both players elected to return to their respective colleges for their senior seasons.
As Fitt notes, that rule is widely — near universally, in fact — disregarded among draft prospects. He points back to a BA story from 2008 in which one AL scouting director stated: "Every single player that we deal with—I don’t care what round you’re talking about—has representation, has an agent."
Monda has since been cleared to play for Washington State this season, but Wetzler's investigation is ongoing, leaving Oregon State without its left-handed ace, according to Fitt. He goes on to note that just because these accusations are in place doesn't mean that Wetzler and Monda actually violated the rules, adding that an NCAA ruling is expected by the end of the week.
Fitt was able to reach Phillies scouting director Marti Wolever, who declined comment. Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer reached Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr., who also declined to comment and referred further inquiries to Wolever (Twitter link).
This story is of particular note given the fact that agents who are advising draft prospects are unhappy and could withhold information from the Phillies as the draft approaches. In a followup tweet to his story, Fitt quotes an unnamed agent who told him, "As of today, Phillies are out. Phillies are not getting into any more of our households. We're shutting down all communications." He also tweets that multiple agents have said there will be repercussions for the Phillies.
Scout.com's Kiley McDaniel and ESPN's Keith Law have heard the same today from their own conversations with agents (Twitter links). Law goes on to speculate (via Twitter) that the Phillies may not receive information about the signability of some prospects, their questionnaire responses or the results of their psych tests.
NCAA rules state that players aren't able to have agents heading into the draft, but nearly all draft prospects circumvent that rule by enlisting an "advisor" — an agent who assists in the negotiation of the contract without a signed agreement of representation from that prospect. Once the player has signed with the team, the advisor becomes his agent and receives a cut of the contract agreed upon between player and team.
Advisors aren't supposed to deal directly with the club — a technicality that gained attention back in 2009 in regards to lefty Andy Oliver. As the New York Times' Katie Thomas reported at the time, Oliver sued the NCAA upon being declared ineligible to play after it was learned that he had an agent present in his negotiations with the Twins. Oliver was eventually awarded $750K. Fitt spoke with multiple lawyers at the time of that trial, with one professor of sports law telling him: "The MLBPA, not the NCAA, is the proper entity to be regulating the player-agent relationship."