06/07/2004 2:05 PM ET
Phillies take Golson at No. 21
Top pick's body type compared to Rickey Henderson
By Ken Mandel / MLB.com
|Greg Golson has been clocked from home-to-first at 3.8 seconds from the right side. (courtesy John Connally HS)
PHILADELPHIA -- Looking to rebuild from a position player standpoint and wanting to continue to add speed, the Philadelphia Phillies selected high school outfielder Greg Golson with their first selection in the 2004 First-Year Player Draft.
Golson, a right-handed hitting center fielder hit .487 with four home runs, 26 RBIs and 20 steals for John Connally High School, in Austin, Texas. He scored 32 runs. He is ranked as the 29th best player on Baseball America's Top 100.
"We knew he had a legitimate chance to get to us and he was really high on our list," said Marti Wolever, the team's director of scouting. "We love his tools and his athleticism, and are happy to have him."
Golson is happy to have the Phillies, and is off to purchase a Phillies cap. He's familiar with much of the city's history, and with its passion for sports.
As for being drafted at 21st overall?
"I wouldn't say I was surprised, but I was relieved," he said. "I was hoping I would, and had heard that I could, but I really didn't know. Everyone told me that you never know."
The Phillies knew they wanted Golson for a while, and researched him extensively. Ranked as an 80 runner, the highest possible score, Wolever said the Phillies were impressed with Greg Golson's athleticism first, his above- average arm, and polished skills as a hitter.
Those raw skills were always there, but Golson started out playing basketball. But when his coach named him the captain of the baseball team in his sophomore year, his interest swelled.
"It just seemed like baseball was the right road," he said. "My coaches said I had a bright future in baseball if I worked hard, because I had some pretty good tools."
A 6-foot-1, 185-pounder, Golson has a body type that has been compared to Ricky Henderson. He's been clocked from home-to-first at 3.8 seconds from the right side.
The first outfielder taken, Golson was selected ahead of college outfielders Richard Robnett (26th to Oakland) and B.J. Syzmanski (48th to Cincinnati). Wolever said it was all about tools.
"We still rank them according to their tools and their skills, and his skills and tools were better than a lot of college players who went before him," he said. "Some teams want to take college players. We still want to take the best player available. He was the best player. We think
our strength in the organization is pitching and we would like to add some positional players."
The Phillies, who didn't have a first-round pick in 2003, have had considerable success in years past, with Pat Burrell (1998), Brett Myers (1999) and Chase Utley (2000) already in the Majors. Two others, Gavin Floyd (2001) and Cole Hamels (2002) are the organization's top two
Of that group, Myers, Floyd and Hamels were drafted out of high school. The last time the Phillies drafted a high-school outfielder was in 1995, when they grabbed Reggie Taylor out of Newberry High School, in Newberry, S.C.
The next challenge for Wolever and company is to get Golson in a Phillies uniform as quickly as possible. They haven't failed to sign a first-round pick since 1997 when J.D. Drew shunned them as the second overall pick, out of Florida State University.
Partly for that reason, Wolever said the Phillies would not have considered Drew's brother, FSU shortstop Stephen Drew, or Jered Weaver, brother of Los Angeles Dodgers right-hander Jeff Weaver, had they slipped to 21. Weaver went 12th to Anaheim, while Drew went 15th to Arizona.
Both are represented by agent Scott Boras, who represents J.D. Drew as well.
"We just didn't think their demands warranted their ability," said Wolever.
Golson is represented by Larry Reynolds, who handled Tim Moss and Kiel Fisher, selections in 2003, and 2002, respectively.
"We spent a lot of time with him," Wolever said. "We've seen him play about every game. I know his father and met his mother. We have a great relationship. His options are to go to the University of Texas, but I think there is a good chance that he'll end up in a Phillies uniform."
"I don't see a signability problem," Golson said. "I'm hoping that it's fair, that's all."
Perhaps four years from now, Golson will be tracking down balls in the tricky center field at Citizens Bank Park. Wolever said Golson's speed will mean that he will likely stay a center fielder, rather than move to a corner spot.
"I would say he's at least four years away (from the Majors)," said Wolever. "You never know. Some (high school) guys are quicker. Vernon Wells was pretty quick. That's where the makeup comes in to play because he has such solid makeup he's going to find a way to achieve and be what
he should be.
"He brings a lot to the party."
Position: CF B/T: R/R
H: 6-0 W: 190
Born: 1985-09-17 Class: HS
MEDIUM FRAME. THICK, MUSCULAR, TIGHTLY WOUND, ATHLETIC BUILD. LARGE HANDS. BODY TYPE SIMILAR TO RICKY HENDERSON. STIFF, UPRIGHT STANCE. SLIGHT OPEN W/ WEIGHT EVENLY DISTRIBUTED. PRESENT TIME. RUNNING VERY WELL. STIFF, STRONG STROKE W/ RAW PULL PWR. EXPLOSIVE RUNNER W/ SPRINTER TYPE SPEED. STRONG ARM W/ GOOD CARRY. PROJECTABLE OUTF SKILLS W/ HARD WORK & PROPER INSTRUCTION. PHYSICAL SPECIMEN W/ ATHLETIC ABILITY. PLUS SECONDARY TOOLS.
Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.