Ben Wetzler, the fifth-round pick of the Phillies who elected to return to Oregon State rather than sign with the club, has been suspended for 11 games (one-fifth of his senior season). According to the NCAA press release announcing the suspension, the "student-athlete" Wetzler violated the NCAA's rules when he "sought help from an agent who attended meetings where Wetzler negotiated contract terms with the team." A report yesterday indicated that the Phillies reported Wetzler to the NCAA after he failed to sign with the club, even though Wetzler utilized an advisor (so far as has been reported) in the same manner as virtually all players weighing their first baseball contract against a college education. Oregon State official Steve Clark said today that "it is our understanding the Phillies reported it," tweets Aaron Fitt of Baseball America. The initial reaction around the game has suggested that the Phillies may face blowback from agents as they work to sign amateur talent in the future.
In other news out of Philadelphia …
- Initial reviews on Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez have been middling, reports Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com. Though the Cuban hurler ultimately signed for just three years and $12MM, he had originally agreed to a $48MM guarantee before the deal was reduced when issues arose with his physical. Salisbury writes that the team has not been impressed with Gonzalez, who has shown underwhelming stuff and "spotty" control. (David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News had more details on Gonzalez's struggles.) When asked for his reaction, manager Ryne Sandberg said that Gonzalez was "still a litle bit of a mystery" and explained that the club would be "using a lot of patience with him."
- Among the players garnering more favorable reviews to date is top third base prospect Maikel Franco, reports Salisbury. Sandberg offered glowing praise for his bat, and said that the 21-year-old looked strong in the field early on as well. Though Salisbury says that it remains unlikel that Franco breaks camp with the big club, Sandberg maintains that he will not hand the job to Cody Asche, who saw his first 50 MLB games last seasons.
- Reliever Mike Adams, who is set to earn a $7MM salary this season, has finally progressed to throwing on flat ground after undergoing shoulder surgery last summer. As Paul Hagen of MLB.com reports, the 35-year-old is expected to throw off of the mound on Thursday. With uncertainty still lingering over the bullpen, the club is surely hopeful that Adams can regain his form as a dependable, sometimes-dominant setup man.
A bit surprising for them to start writing MAG off after just a couple days of camp…he hasn’t pitched competitively in a good two years so ts not surprising that he’s unimpressive so far. They being the beat writers not the Phillies themselves so far.
completely forgot phillies signed him lol
I live in Pittsburgh and don’t really have much distain for our cross-state rivals but this report about the college stuff has really buttered my biscuits the last 24 hours! Let the kid go to school!!!
I am a Phillies fan, and the report you are referencing makes me sick also.
The Phillies with Amaro at the helm are a complete joke of a franchise now.
Dave and Ryan, has it occurred to you and everyone that this is the action of a angry/rogue agent or advisor trying to hide their blame? Could Mr. Fitt be wrong in his accusations? This move does not make sense on any level and even Oregon State does not know who turned in Wetzler. Wetzler was offered above slot money and turned it down so an agent who was banking on that 10% could be very upset. Let’s be patient and find out the facts before making judgement.
Silly Phillies. I wonder if there actually will be “blowback” from other agents. How political is baseball? (in terms of competition and pettiness)
It isn’t silly from the Phillies viewpoint if they waste draft picks on these “kids” who are advised by agents not to sign. Why didn’t they make their conditions known before being drafted?
I’m not sure I understand that. Every team knows that when they draft a player, the kid might not sign. Happens all the time, and certainly plays a role in early draft picks.
Maybe it’s time to change the rules in order to avoid wasting top picks on “kids” who aren’t going to sign. It certainly hurts the clubs who lose out on them.
How would you change them? Kids look for a contract they can sign or they go back to school. If the team has all the power than the kid is stuck playing for whatever amount the team offers.
There are mechanisms to protect teams, including replacement picks in the ensuing draft. (This happened prominently, recently, with the first-round picks of the Pirates and Jays.)
And teams know the risks: high-schoolers, especially, but also college juniors have another option if they don’t get a high enough offer.
The fact is, these kids are facing enormously difficult, life-altering decisions about whether to enter a high-risk, high-reward profession or lock up a college degree on a scholarship. From my perspective, they should be afforded all the counsel they can muster. That includes having an experienced agent negotiate with a team to ensure the player is adequately compensated for their talent and risks.
Uh, how about MLB’s blanket policy that systemically puts entry athletes at a disadvantage when negotiating their contracts? It’s crazy that MLB gets to maintain their monopoly status and do stuff like this.
This is the first I am hearing about Wetzel. Does anyone know what caused the Phillies to treat him differently?
Possibly the kid/agent played hardball with them and Philly didn’t like it. I have to agree though. If/when the team drafts HS kids and those kids have an agent rep? They could pay for it, cause those kids are STILL going to have a rep and this cheesy act by them will hurt them, not help.
It seems like this has to happen all of the time. A lot of prospects get drafted 3-4 times before they sign. I have to think there has to be a lot of kids playing hardball. What made this one different?
That’s an interesting penalty. As if the NCAA thought they had to do something, but couldn’t be that harsh about it without risking tremendous blow-back. Just speculating, but it’s the kind of thing you do when you don’t want to risk litigation and possibly losing the entire rule. The player will not be seriously hurt by it, and so has to weigh whether he wants to risk pursuing it further. Serves both sides.
That was my sense as well. He’ll still get to put out a pretty full season of work and have another crack at a big league career. It is unfortunate, though, that any college kid would have to go through this mess when dealing with such a momentous decision.
The NCAA built the pyramids with “student athletes.”
I am withholding my final opinions until someone prints the other side of the story. I have learned long ago one side of any story is never the whole truth. Having said that, if the agents get together to try and blackball a team do not cry foul if teams get together and blackball that agent. It would seem the agents would be running afoul of the CBA as will the teams who participate in this pettiness and retribution.
Please explain how players/agents that refuse to sign with the Phillies is in violation of the CBA. All they have to do is make a ridiculously high demand and when the Phillies don’t meet it, then they just don’t sign.
cannot say for sure. Just seems if agents get together and say do not cooperate or sign with team x then that would be no different than teams getting together and saying do not sign players represented by agent Z. Not bargaining in good faith.
What could the Phillies say that would make you think this was an appropriate reaction?
We had a verbal contract for less than the player ultimately wanted, so I tattled on him for retribution.
Before we drafted the player, he said he would take below slot, but then wanted slot money after we drafted him. We decided to get back at him by trying to take away his college eligibility and hoped he wouldn’t be able to get drafted again.
Was Philadelphia’s response acceptable to you in either of the scenarios above? I have a hard time imagining what else could have possibly happened worse than the two laid out above and I don’t believe either warranted the Phillies actions.
I’m not going to judge them till they explain their actions of why.
when Franco is ready for the majors what happens with Asche? does one move to another position? does one of them get traded? what do you think will happen?
Asche’s trial run at 2nd base didn’t go so well, but I do think they’ll revisit that option. Franco is supposed to be getting reps at first base to improve his versatility and keep the hot corner open for Asche, a better defender anyway. I think it’s a strong possibility that this is the last year for Ryan Howard, as any amount if production will increase his trade value. I’m not even pretending that Howard will bring back decent prospects, and the Phils will def eat salary, but I think that’s the approach that needs to happen to keep Asche at third, move Franco to first, and kick start the rebuilding process. Rubens job depends on this latter point, I believe. It’s too risky to trade Asche or Franco before getting a glimpse of how maikel handles major league pitching
The phillies will contend in the nl east this year with the rotation and the bullpen