A blog about the Phillies and Major League Baseball (MLB).

Friday, April 15, 2011

Phillies Draft History and Dave Montgomery

This sad story begins in 1999. It was not an unsuccessful draft for the Phils. In the 1st round they selected Brett Myers out of high school. A pitcher with a bad reputation already his great arm fell to them as the 12th pick of the 1st round.

Unfortunately, this was the only player of that draft who ever gained any notice. When your draft is about the 1st round pick and nothing else, it was not a good draft.

But it didn't have to be that way.

In the fifth round the Phillies chose another high school pitcher, a lefty named Joe Saunders. You may have heard of him. Three years later the Angels chose him again in the first round out of college.

Why didn't Saunders sign with the Phillies out of high school?

Saunders says the Phillies offered a $150,000 take-it-or-leave-it signing bonus the day after the 1999 draft. When that offer was rejected, Saunders insists he never heard from the organization again.

'To get drafted was such an honor and the whole way they handled it was such an awkward experience for me,' Saunders said Friday before the Phillies and Angels began their weekend interleague series. 'You never see an organization come in with one offer and you get 10 minutes to make your decision, then not talk to you the rest of the summer.'

Members of the Phillies scouting department say Saunders’ story is ridiculous. In their version, repeated follow-up attempts to get a deal done were made. But it was Saunders’ advisor and parents, the Phillies say, who refused to negotiate or even permit the club to speak to Saunders again, in person or over the phone.

'It’s frustrating because obviously we thought we had a chance to get him into the system,' Phillies director of scouting Marti Wolever said.

...Saunders laughed when hearing Wolever’s version.

'What they told you was a fish story,' he said.

The following year the Phillies drafted Chase Utley in the 1st round. Good pick again.

In the sixth round the Phillies drafted Taylor Buchholz, a Pennsylvania high school talent and perhaps after the Joe Saunders experience they had some second thoughts, or maybe it was just the Pennsylvania background. Anyway, they signed Taylor Buchholz for $375,000.

Good move. Taylor Buchholz would later become the key talent in a trade for Billy Wagner. If you want to acquire a prime time MLB talent you need top minor league talent. The better the talent and the younger that talent, the more top minor league talents you need in order to acquire that player.

In 2001 the Phillies received their reward for the 2000 “Bring it On!” Phillies season, one in which they did nothing but trade for Andy Ashby, who we were told would be an “Ace” equal to Curt Schilling (!). Even if he was the team had no chance to be a contender, but Ed Wade and Dave $$$ Montgomery insisted otherwise.

The Phillies lost 97 games, traded Curt Schilling for the “sack of crap” that at least netted them a surprise in Vincente Padilla.

It was also the end of Scott Rolen's time as a Phillie. He had seen enough and wanted out. Made it clear to everyone that there was nothing more to discuss. Curt Schilling being dumped overboard was the last straw.

So now the draft. And who should be there? Why Third baseman Mark Teixeira. That's correct, Gold Glove MLB first baseman Mark Teixeira once was stationed on the hot corner.

But the Phillies took Gavin Floyd, even though Phillies draft talent guru Mike Arbuckle wanted Teixeira and said so before the draft.

The reason for Arbuckle being overruled?


Dave $$$ Montgomery turned thumbs down on Teixeira and his agent Scott Boras who the Phillies have boycotted since Boras became an agent.

Once, and only once the Phillies have chosen a Scott Boras client. J. D. Drew in 1997. Before the draft that year Boras informed the Phillies as is customary as to what the parameters of a deal would look like. The initial asking price would be a multi-year Major League contract for eleven million dollars.

Not only did the Phillies have no intention of paying Drew and Boras that much money, they were determined to not allow anyone else to pay him that much. Immediately following the draft Bill Giles came out of hiding and announced that the Phillies would pay Drew the same as Kris Benson was paid the previous year, $2.8 million.

And the Phillies never moved from that figure and Drew went into the independent leagues and back into the next years draft where he was picked by the Cardinals and paid almost $8 million on a Major League deal.

The Phillies got a supplemental 1st round pick that they squandered on a slot money college outfielder named Eric Valent, who today works as a scout for the Phillies.

And you wonder why Scott Rolen bailed?

So Mark Teixeira went on the following choice in the first round by the Texas Rangers who were ecstatic with their good fortune and happily gave Teixeira a $9.5 million Major League deal. The Rangers also had 3B Hank Blalock who took to 3B faster than Teixeira, and that is how Teixeira became a Gold Glove first baseman instead of a Major League 3B.

The Phillies scouts though were getting better as a crew as the years went on. In the fifth round they took Ryan Howard and hit the ball out of the park. He didn't even cost any money to sign.

That's why he's here today.

But oh what could have been. Today the Phils could have Howard at 1B and Teixeira at 3B. A draft for the ages.

But Dave $$$ Montgomery had other ideas. And unfortunately those ideas have not changed.

Phillies draft spending
2003 $1,417,000 Rank: 30th
2006 $4,842,500 Rank: 16th
2007 $4,092,000 Rank: 22nd
2008 $6,875,000 Rank: 10th
2009 $2,755.000 Rank: 29th
2010 $3,927,900 Rank: 27th

In 2002 the Phillies took a chance on Cole Hamels, who lasted until the 17th pick due to an extremely serious arm injury, the breaking of the humerus bone in his pitching arm (that is the bone running between your bicep and tricep muscles connecting your elbow to your shoulder). Hamels has a metal wire running through that bone into his elbow, he is the only pitcher to have fully recovered from that injury.  He also demanded a few hundred thousand over slot money even with that history.

Later in the 17th round the Phils selected Scott Mathieson out of a British Columbia high school at age 17. His draft bonus has never been disclosed, but it's believed to have been quite reasonable. That's why he's in the Phils farm system. 

Mathison's fastball topped out at 89 MPH on draft day, but Phils scouts projected him to throw harder due to his size and perfect arm motion in delivering his fastball. The scouts were right, and today even after three years of recovering from two Tommy John surgeries Mathieson still lights up a radar gun at 98 MPH. His breaking pitches never developed unfortunately, but Bruce Sutter has been hired to work with him on a split fingered fastball and he's showing some promise, so we might see him come out of the Phils bullpen in 2011.

The Phils did something they had previously not done much of in the 14th round when they took Stanford football star Darin Naatjes. He was 6'9” and 245 lbs and could bring it in the high nineties. His control was suspect but the Phils saw a bullpen roll for him. Unfortunately, like Mathieson he landed on the surgeons table, but did not recover.

So of the three major pitching talents signed by the Phils, two who were healthy had very serious arm injuries subsequently. Cole Hamels, who should have gone in the first three picks of the draft, dropped to the Phils because teams were scared of his previous arm injury, and after several years of scares in the minors -Hamels spent a huge amount of time on the D.L. before arriving in MLB – Hamels has been a top-of-the-rotation workhorse of the first magnitude.

Such is baseball.

In 2003 the Phillies spent less money on the draft than any other team in MLB. Still they came up with Michael Bourn and Kyle Kendrick. Bourn fronted the trade for Brad Lidge, perhaps making the Phillies 2008 season into a World Series winning year as Lidge was perfect, never blowing a save.

However, in the 41st round the Phillies selected Greg Reynolds, a 6'5” RHP with a Stanford scholarship. Mike Arbuckle wanted to pay him. Dave $$$ Montgomery as is his custom said “NO!”. Three years later Reynolds was the third player chosen in the draft by the Rockies. He subsequently developed shoulder problems (possibly from overuse at Stanford). But the lesson is that the Phils scouts knew a stud talent when they took him, but were denied the opportunity to sign him through the interference of Dave Montgomery.

The third overall pick. Snatched three years earlier by the Phils in the 41st round.

2004 was a draft year that nearly brought on a stroke for me when the Phillies picking 21st took Greg Golson, a consensus 2nd round talent due to a suspect bat, solely because he was happy to sign a slot money deal before the draft. Two picks later the Yankees at #23 took Phil Hughes – you may have heard of him – who was the consensus best high school pitching talent in the draft. Hughes would not agree to a pre-draft slot money deal, which was Dave Montgomery's goal before the draft. Golson's bonus? $1.475,000. Phil Hughes? $1,400,000.

Yep, once again as in 1997 the Phillies brass were going out of their way to please Bud Selig. Immediately following Golson's quick signing announcement – rare – Chris Wheeler went on a rant during the TV broadcast of a Phils game talking about how great it was that Golson signed so quick and for slot money and how “poor small market teams like San Diego, Pittsburgh and Kansas City couldn't afford to sign their top pick because of raising bonuses, and something had to be done to send a message”.

Do you care about the price of signing bonuses and whether those teams that live off revenue sharing “can” sign them? Do you want the Phillies to miss out on Phil Hughes to “send a message”? Do you want to miss out on the next J.D. Drew to “send a message”?

Even worse, it's bullsh*t. In 2008 the Kansas City Royals spent $11,104,000 on the draft. The most money ever spent by a MLB team. The Royals spent almost as much in 2008 as the Phillies spent in 2007, 2008 and 2009 combined.

Today the Royals have the best farm system in MLB.

The Phils in the later rounds – without money to spend – selected J. Happ and catcher Lou Marson. Happ fronted the deal for Roy Oswalt, and Lou Marson was the third talent in the package that brought Cliff Lee to the Phils.

Time and again Phillies scouts have proven themselves worthy of being given a blank checkbook, but Dave Montgomery does the exact opposite.

For some reason draft spending by teams for 2004 and 2005 is not available. That's too bad because 2005 has to have been a bigger drop off the graph than 2003 when the Phils were dead last in spending at $1,417,000. The Phils did not spend over slot for anyone and they did not have a 1st round pick. Mike Costanzo as a 2nd round pick got $570,000 as the Phils top pick. In the following round the Phils selected LHP Matt Maloney and in the 10th round Josh Outman. Both were later used in trades, Outman for Joe Blanton and Maloney for Kyle Lohse. The scouts came up big again and Dave $$$ Montgomery did not.

Oh yeah, the Phils also drafted highly regarded RHP Vance Worley. Dave Montgomery put a stop to him becoming a Phillie though. And yes we're talking about the same Vance Worley who is now a good Phillies pitching prospect. Three years later the Phils drafted Worley again, out of college in the third round and he signed guessed it, slot money.

How else would the Phillies get him?

2006 was a good draft year for the Phils though no thanks to Dave Montgomery. Kyle Drabeck who later fronted the Doc Halladay trade was taken in the 1st round and signed for...slot money. The Phils had a supplemental 1st round pick and took 2B Adrian Cardenas who later fronted the Joe Blanton trade. The 2nd round pick is still floating up and down in the person of Andrew Carpenter. Next was Jason Donald who became part of the Cliff Lee trade. Round 20 was again interesting as the year before as the Phils selected five tool outfielder Domonic Brown out of high school. Brown has gotten smarter since 2006 and is now represented by Scott Boras. Then he was not and the Phils signed him for just $200,000.

Scouts came up real big again, Dave Montgomery was no where to be found with the dollars though. In fact Dave Montgomery sabotaged this draft. In the 36th round the Phils drafted 6'5” RHP Kyle Gibson. Over a pittance that would never be noticed in the bottom line at the end of the season Montgomery pushed Kyle Gibson into college where he quickly became a 1st round talent and was picked by the Twins. Right now Gibson is the Twins #1 prospect and is awaiting a place in the Twins rotation to open up.

2007 was a big draft year for Phillies scouts, though no thanks to Dave Montgomery. In fact, Dave Montgomery once again sabotaged the scouts insisting on a fast slot money signing in the first round. This yielded Joe Savery, once a good LHP prospect who burned his shoulder up at Rice University. This was evident with just a glance at his pitiful stats that branded him at best a sixth round pick. All the reasons given for drafting Savery actually applied to Brett Cecil who was still on the board when the Phils chose, but the Phillies didn't have a pre-draft agreement with Cecil so the Phils picker had to choose Savery, who has been a massive bust as a pitcher, so much so that he is now trying to do a Rick Ankiel and become a position player. Savory is off to a blazing start at Clearwater this year so his story could still have a happy ending, but it remains a major screw-up and a continuation of interference by Dave Montgomery that prevents the Phillies' farm system from becoming all it could be.

And it could have been a lot. Rick Porcello was available when the Phillies chose Savery. Of course, he had a $7 million dollar Major League contract price on him, and he was a Scott Boras client and the Dave $$$ Montgomery has forbidden his farm team from ever again drafting a Scott Boras client.

And it did not stop there. Scott Boras had another talented client named Matt Harvey who had a $4 million price tag attached and he was not taken until the 3rd round, so the Phillies could have drafted and signed both Porcello and Harvey (who became a #1 pick of the Mets and may soon be ranked as their best prospect).

If the Phillies had made these signings they could have afforded to make the deal for Roy Halladay after acquiring Cliff Lee in 2009 and had Doc and Cliff in their rotation against the Yankees. Dave Montgomery and his “hate Scott Boras” campaign may have cost the Phillies the 2009 World Series.

In the supplemental 1st round the Phils took Travis D'Arnaud who is now a Blue Jay along with Kyle Drabeck in the Roy Halladay trade.

In the 3rd round Dave Montgomery again exerted his influence stopping the Phils from signing Brandon Workman who was chosen in the 2nd round by the Red Sox last year out of college.

Then the Phillies hit on Michael Taylor in the 5th round and he too became part of the Roy Halladay trade.

Next was 1B Matt Rizzotti who tore it up at Reading last year and for some reason was sent back there again to begin 2011 and is off to a scorching start.

All of that for slot money. What could the Phils farm team have done if they had an open checkbook like the Red Sox farm team?

In 2008 the Phillies had one of their highest spending totals ever, yet 9 teams spent more. The reason was not going over slot either, the Phils simply had extra high selections that carried high slot bonuses.

In round one Dave Montgomery did his thing again and it once again flushed a 1st round pick and the money that the pick cost to sign Anthony Hewitt down the toilet. That's the thing about this policy, it not only screws the franchise out of talent but has wasted millions of dollars by overpaying prospects to enforce the draft slotting system that even teams like the Kansas City Royals have been ignoring for several years.

Zach Collier was a 1st round compensation pick who has been stopped by injuries. He was followed by two 2nd round picks in Anthony Gose and Jason Knapp. Gose went in the Roy Oswalt trade and Knapp was either the 1st or 2nd highest rated talent to go in the Cliff Lee trade.

Then in round three the Phils again took Vance Worley out of college after they gave him the Dave Montgomery “you're not getting paid by us!” treatment out of high school in 2005.

Then another compensation pick who the Phils turned into 17 year old Jon Pettibone who is now part of the highly anticipated 2011 Clearwater rotation, immediately followed by 4th rounder Trevor May who is also part of this years Clearwater rotation. And it doesn't stop there. In round eight the Phils picked 17 year old Julio Rodriguez out of Puerto Rico, and he is part of the 2011 Clearwater rotation.

In the 11th round they plucked Mike Stutes out of college and he is at triple-A Lehigh Valley and likely part of the Phillies pen before the season is over.

And then all the way down in the 38th round the Phils made their one over slot money pick, surprising everyone by giving Jarred Cosart $550,000, and he is considered the ace of this years Clearwater staff after missing the 2009 season with Tommy John surgery.

In round 12 the Phils drafted, but would not pay Ryan Weber out of a Clearwater high school. The next year he was drafted out of a community college and signed by the Braves and is off to a good start in the Sally league this year.

What players did the Phils not draft because of bonus demands? Six picks after Anthony Hewitt the Red Sox chose Casey Kelly. He cost $3 million deferred over five years. About twice what Anthony Hewitt cost. But Casey Kelly is a real talent and was used by the Red Sox this winter as the number one talent in the Adrian Gonzalez trade. I really liked Gerrit Cole. The Yankees took him three picks after Hewitt. He didn't sign and I suppose we have to assume that the Yankees didn't hold to slot money, but they got the pick over next year and getting to pick over is a lot better than wasting one and half million dollars on Anthony Hewitt.

2009 was another grand slam Dave $$$ Montgomery year. The Phils were 29th in draft spending. They did not have a 1st round pick and for the first time they took a talent out of the 1st round and paid supplemental 1st round money to sign him. His name is Brody Colvin and he is the last mentioned of this years well regarded Clearwater rotation. He received $900,000 as a 7th round pick and that was the highest bonus by far that the Phillies paid in this draft.

But the Phils scouts had a big year too, not only convincing Dave Montgomery to do something that most other clubs will do, but the Phillies never did, but finding another gem in the very next round after Colvin, and he was someone that Dave Montgomery loved too because Jonathan Singleton, like Domonic Brown years earlier, signed for just $200,000. Today Singleton is the Phillies best hitting prospect, a can't miss 19 year old.

Think about this: Just $400,000 for both Domonic Brown and Jonathan Singleton. That's less than third round slot money! Imagine what the Phils farm team could do if they were given some real money to spend every year?

There were other “tough signs” looking for money who the Phils picked in 2009. Jake Stewart is now at Stanford in his 2nd season starting for the Cardinals. Stewart is a five tool CF type of prospect.

Then there is the one who is likely to hurt for a long time. Catcher Andrew Susac – highly regarded pre-draft – was taken in the sixteenth round. He tore it up at Oregon State to the point that he looks like a potential Joe Mauer bat. He was recently injured but is still expected to go in the 1st round. Jim Callis of Baseball America can't stop Tweeting about Andrew Susac.

2010 was not a good year for the Phils in the draft. Dave Montgomery wrapped both hands around the throat of the Phils farm staff and choked them unconscious. The Phillies spent less than than $4 million on the entire draft, placing them 27th in draft spending.

The Red Sox spent $10.6 million.

Once again the Phillies overdrafted their 1st round pick. Jesse Biddle is a good LHP prospect, but was probably destined to go in the 2nd round. From here on it gets ugly.

Fifth round, 6'7” 220lb RHP Scott Frazier wanted to sign, he also wanted in the neighborhood of $1 million. Dave Montgomery told him to go find another neighborhood to play in. He did. Frazier is currently being moved into the starting rotation at Randy Wolf's old college Pepperdine University.

Then in the ninth round five tool outfielder Brenton Allen was told to take his talent to UCLA.

In the 19th round Georgia Tech recruit Daniel Palka, a 1B/OF/LHP who was highly regarded and expected to be paid accordingly found out that Dave Montgomery was not swayed by such high opinions. Palka was moved into the Georgia Tech lineup from day one as a freshman and is profiling as a 1st round pick in two years.

The Phillies blew off more talent then they signed.

The top four spending teams and what they spent:

Nationals $11,927,200
Pirates $11,900,400
Blue Jays $11,594,400
Red Sox $10,664,400

Yes even the Pirates and Blue Jays, two notorious low spenders have learned the futility of choking the farm.

Totaling the spending for the last three years the Phillies are 28th in MLB. The future does not look bright. The history of teams that operate like this is poor. The baseball odds say that the Phillies farm system will sink into quicksand and disappear if Dave $$$ Montgomery is not stopped.


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