© 2007 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.

06/07/07 10:00 PM ET

Phils select Rice lefty with first pick

Coming off shoulder surgery, talented pitcher poses some risk

PHILADELPHIA -- Cole Hamels made the start on Thursday. Behind him were fellow former first-round picks Chase Utley and Pat Burrell, with later selections Ryan Howard (fifth) and Jimmy Rollins (second) also in the infield.

In two years -- at the latest -- hard-throwing lefty Joe Savery hopes to join them. The 6-foot-3, 215-pound Rice University junior said as much after being chosen with the 19th overall selection in the First-Year Player Draft on Thursday.

"I really believe that either by late next year or Opening Day of 2009," he said of his personal timetable. "The bottom line is I've never focused on pitching. I relied on athleticism. I'm really excited about the opportunity to focus on pitching and being around professional instruction."

He cited Diamondbacks starter Micah Owings as an example of a pitcher who made a quick ascent. Drafted as a gifted pitcher/hitter, the 2005 draftee out of Tulane focused on the mound, and forced his way into Arizona's rotation this spring.

Savery comes to an organization with a terrific track record of draft success, especially in the early rounds. A surprise choice, he was projected as a high first-rounder, but slid after shoulder surgery on July 6, 2006.

Savery described his ailment as a Bennett lesion, or a bone spur that formed in his left shoulder. That rubbed against another bone, causing pain. He also had mild tear in his shoulder that had to be repaired. Though the surgery was related to his labrum, it wasn't nearly as serious as more common procedures that sideline pitchers.

"It's common in a lot of pitchers," he said. "Had I not had that bone [spur] form, I wouldn't have had to go under the knife. It formed when I was bringing my arm back to throw. As far as I'm concerned, I'm healthy and only getting stronger."

Returning for his junior season, Savery started 17 games for the Owls, going 10-1 with a 2.78 ERA and holding opponents to a .239 batting average. When not pitching, Savery batted .360 with 18 doubles, four homers and 54 RBIs in 250 at-bats as the team's first baseman.

He projects as a middle-of-the-rotation starter for the Phillies, who weren't scared by the medical reports. They drafted Cole Hamels in 2002, despite a broken arm he suffered in high school, and that one worked out well.

Draft 2007 | Complete Coverage
Top MLB Draft Picks
Pick POS Name School
1. TB LHP David Price Vanderbilt U
2. KC SS Michael Moustakas Chatsworth HS (Calif.)
3. CHC 3B Josh Vitters Cypress HS (Calif.)
4. PIT LHP Daniel Moskos Clemson U
5. BAL C Matthew Wieters Georgia Tech
6. WSH LHP Ross Detwiler Missouri St U
7. MIL LF Matthew LaPorta U Florida
8. COL RHP Casey Weathers Vanderbilt U
9. ARI RHP Jarrod Parker Norwell HS
10. SF LHP Madison Bumgarner South Caldwell HS
Complete Draft list >

"We think he's a bigger, stronger Randy Wolf," director of scouting Marti Wolever said. "He hasn't been abused. He's an outstanding athlete. People are going to love him. I thought there was a real good chance he would be taken before we picked. We were surprised he was still there."

Satisfied with the medical records -- and not scared by serious arm injuries of other Rice alumni Philip Humber and Matt Anderson -- the Phillies selected the college junior instead of high-school right-hander Christopher Withrow, who went next to the Dodgers.

"We've like this kid since his freshman year of college," Wolever said.

In 2004, the Dodgers selected him in the 15th round out of Lamar High School in Houston, but Savery was intent of going to college and priced himself too high. He's being advised by Casey Close -- who recently signed on to represent Ryan Howard, and doesn't expect a difficult sign.

Last year's 19th overall pick, Missouri State pitcher Brett Sinkbeil, signed for $1.55 million.

Before that, Savery must complete his junior season at Rice. The Owls will begin a three-game College World Series Regional series against Texas A&M on Friday.

"I won't worry about signing until the season is over at Rice," Savery said. "That could be in four days, or hopefully in two or three few weeks [after the College World Series]. I'm excited to get going and I don't plan on dragging out any contract negotiations."

A sports management major in college, Savery features a four-seam fastball at 93-95 miles per hour, and a slider/curveball that he said is more of a slider, and a change up.

"I'm really exciting about the opportunity to focus on pitching," he said. "I haven't been able to do in the past. I really want to get started."

With 12 members of the current roster having come from previous drafts, Savery's chances of seeing the mound at Citizens Bank Park are quite good. Every player drafted by the Phillies from 1993-2002 has made it to the Majors.

Past first-round selections for the Phillies include Greg Luzinski (1968), Larry Christenson (1972), Mike Lieberthal (1990), Pat Burrell (1998), Brett Myers (1999), Utley (2000) and Hamels (2002).

Other Phillies Day 1 selections:

C Travis D'Arnaud, Lakewood High School (Calif.), second round, sandwich pick, 37th overall
D'Arnaud, 18, was recently touted by Baseball America as the second-best defensive high school player in the country. He batted .413, leading his team in homers (seven) and RBIs (52) in 33 games. Phillies scouts filed the following report: "He has a good, quick release for a catcher with soft hands and easy actions behind the plate. A polished receiver. Has very good plate discipline and balance and uses all fields. Great instincts for the game and a very good competitor."

SS/3B Travis Mattair, Southridge High School (Kennewick, Wash.), second round, 83rd overall
This senior is described as a big, athletic infielder who most likely will end up at third base, and he'll hit for power -- especially the other way -- with a swing that should be well-suited for wood bats. Scouts like his strong arm, soft hands and makeup. A good base runner, who also played basketball.

RHP Brandon Workman, Bowie High School (Bowie, Texas), third round, 107th overall
The 6-foor-4, 195-pounder has a low 90s fastball, and at just 18 years old, possesses big upside.

OF Matthew Spencer, Arizona State University, third round, 113th overall
This junior batted .380 with eight homers and 48 RBIs in 53 games this season. Other ASU alumni to play in the Major Leagues include Barry Bonds, Sal Bando and Floyd Bannister. Spencer transfered this season from University of North Carolina, where he appeared in 92 games over the previous two seasons in Chapel Hill.

2B Tyler Mach, Oklahoma State University, fourth round, 143rd overall
Mach is from the alma mater of left-hander Matt Smith, as well as former Major Leaguers Jeromy Burnitz, Pete Incaviglia and Mickey Tettleton. Mach hit .401 in 60 games for the Cowboys, crushing 16 homers and 24 doubles, driving in 81 runs. A senior, he grew up in Washington State and lists Cal Ripken Jr. as his favorite athlete.

OF Michael Taylor, Stanford University, fifth round, 173rd overall
This junior is regarded as a big right-handed bat with power potential, though he didn't show that in college. He's 6-foot-6 and 260 pounds, so there is reason to believe. He has a right-fielder's arm and is still raw, but learning. Opinions vary on Taylor, whom scouts have known since his sophomore year in high school when he was Zack Greinke's teammate.

Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.