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Phillies stay in college on Day 2
06/08/2004  9:56 PM ET
PHILADEPHIA -- A day after nabbing the player viewed as the best available high school athlete by Baseball America, the Phillies spent the rest of Monday and most of Tuesday restocking the organization with mostly collegiate talent.

After selecting just four high school players out of their first 18 picks on Monday, including Greg Golson at No. 21 overall, the Phillies stayed in college during Day 2 of the First-Year Player Draft, selecting 18 of 32 players from the higher education ranks.

All tolled, Philadelphia chose 32 college players -- 17 hitters and 15 pitchers -- out of 50 selections. Of the 18 high-school players, 12 were hitters.

"I'm very pleased with what we did on the first and second day," said Marti Wolever, the team's director of scouting. "We got some great athletes."

The Phillies entered this year's draft searching for position player prospects after focusing on pitching for several years, though that philosophy had netted them Brett Myers, Gavin Floyd and Cole Hamels.

They also wanted to restock after losing two high picks in the 2003 draft -- because of the free-agent signings of Jim Thome and David Bell -- and after trading prospects such as Taylor Buchholz and Ezequiel Astacio to acquire Billy Wagner and Eric Milton.

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Of particular importance was behind the plate, and they addressed that by selecting seven catchers, including three in the first 10 rounds. In second-rounder Jason Jaramillo of Oklahoma State, ranked by Baseball America as the best defensive player in college, the Phillies hope they found a winner. They've liked him for some time, having drafted him four years ago out of high school.

"He's a switch-hitter, and we think he has a chance to be a very good big leaguer," said Wolever. "His defense is outstanding. He is a well-above average catch-and-throw guy."

Wolever couldn't decide whether Jaramillo or Northwestern University southpaw James Happ -- projected as a future starter -- was the closest to the Majors. Golson, by the way, is at least four years away and would likely begin his career with the Gulf Coast Phillies when he signs.

Happ was taken in the third round, and Wolever, a big fan of lefties, couldn't believe his good fortune.

"It was a strange year all around, probably the most unpredictable draft since I've been scouting," he said. "We didn't know what to expect at 21, let alone in the third round. When he was there, we grabbed him."

The other two catchers selected in the first 10 rounds were high school players Louis Marson (fourth round) and Charles Creswell (10th). Wolever believes both will sign.

Of catchers drafted in the later rounds, three were in college. Pine Richland High School's Neil Walker was already gone by pick 21, and the Phillies passed on Landon Powell (University of South Carolina). Powell went three picks later to Oakland.

"I think this year had a little more catching depth than in the past couple of drafts," said Mike Arbuckle, assistant general manager/scouting and player development. "Most organizations are struggling to come up with good catching, and I think it's a product of society. Catching is dirty. You get beat up. It takes a special mentality for a young kid to want to start catching. It's not a position most guys like."

The Phillies also participated in nepotism with two selections. They took Auburn outfielder Sean Gamble, son of former outfielder and one-time Phillie Oscar Gamble, in the sixth round, and Trabuco Hills High School (Mission Viejo, Ca.) shortstop Andrew Romine, son of Red Sox outfielder Kevin Romine at pick 1,082.

The team has already reached an agreement with Gamble, a former teammate of Javon Moran, who's currently at Single-A Lakewood. Romine is more uncertain. Wolever hoped something could be worked out by the end of the summer, but the 36th-round pick has a scholarship to Arizona State, his father's alma mater.

In Golson, the Phillies got a player they had coveted for a long time, as their scouts likely burned a hole at the John Connally High School baseball field watching the kid play center field. The 18-year-old was also rated the best five-tool high-school player in the draft, meaning he excels in all areas -- hitting, power hitting, throwing, fielding and running.

Though he has a scholarship to play for the University of Texas, he's expected to sign. Last year's 21st pick -- high-school third baseman Matthew Moses -- earned a $1.45 million bonus.

Negotiations with Golson and his advisor Larry Reynolds will start soon. Both sides are optimistic."

"I always try to look at the glass as half full," Wolever said. "Unfortunately, things sometimes get the way. But our guys did their homework and we feel pretty confident."

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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