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The Phillies ratted out a draftee to the NCAA for negotiating with an agent

Feb 20, 2014, 6:48 AM EDT

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This is surprising, likely unprecedented and truly pathetic. Baseball America’s Aaron Fitt reports that the Phillies turned in their fifth-round draft pick from 2013, Ben Wetzler, to the NCAA for negotiating with the team through an agent. Fitt surmises that the Phillies did so due to sour grapes over Wetzler deciding not to sign and instead returning to Oregon State for his senior year.

Fitt calls the Phillies’ informing on Wetzler a “significant departure from industry norm.” Indeed, draftees routinely use agents to negotiate such deals — or even hire agents as “advisors” before being drafted — and teams never tell the NCAA about it. Mostly because everyone except the NCAA knows that the no-agent rule is idiotic and harmful to these kids who are drafted given how much money is at stake. With the NCAA itself and major league teams looking to take advantage of young athletes, often an agent is the only person looking out for their best interests. Many teams have actually said that they prefer to deal with an agent because it gives everyone involved some security and comfort knowing that a 20 year-old is not going toe-to-toe with seasoned baseball negotiators.

But the Phillies — or at least someone who works for them — ratted our Wetzler. Apparently out of spite. And in doing so there is an NCAA investigation pending against him which could cause him to be ineligible for his senior year and put his very future in baseball in peril.

This was a shameful move. Simply pathetic.

UPDATE: Ruben Amaro was asked about the report:

Not your investigation, Rube. You could talk about it if you wanted to. I can see why you might not want to.

At any rate: it was not the Phillies’ business to tell the NCAA about his agent, but they did. It is their business to answer for what they’ve done, but now they won’t. Got it.

(Thanks to Bicepts for the heads up)

142 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. drunkenhooliganism - Feb 20, 2014 at 10:29 AM

    It’s bad enough that he’s ruining the Phillies’ tomorrows. But now he’s screwing college kids, too.

  2. greymares - Feb 20, 2014 at 10:58 AM

    anybody but the Phillies this is a non-story, right Craig ?

    • Youknowimright - Feb 20, 2014 at 11:29 AM

      It’s a big deal no matter what team. Pretty disgraceful act.

    • stex52 - Feb 20, 2014 at 1:40 PM

      Wrong, greymares.

    • nategearhart - Feb 20, 2014 at 3:22 PM

      It’s a big deal on baseball sites all over the place. You should learn to call a spade a spade regardless of personal rooting interests.

  3. ematusko - Feb 20, 2014 at 11:26 AM

    Phillie fan all the way, but this is awful. Just when you think the organizational leadership can’t be any more despicable they start going after college kids who exercised their right not to sign on the dotted line. Very embarassing to be a Phillie fan right now.

    • carpi2 - Feb 20, 2014 at 6:46 PM

      I hear you man, as a Philly fan, I am embarrassed by the conduct of the team’s upper management.

  4. Youknowimright - Feb 20, 2014 at 11:28 AM

    It’s Philly. What did you expect?

    • pdixon920 - Feb 21, 2014 at 3:14 PM

      Do you even know why you are saying this? Or are you just like every other idiot that likes to make a stock comment about Philly when you know nothing about it or the people there? Very well thought out comment, with very strong points. Just by your response, I can tell you’re a man a meager intelligence, so I guess I’ll take this comment with the proverbial grain of salt.

      • Youknowimright - Feb 24, 2014 at 12:24 AM

        I live outside of philly and I have a medical degree. So wrong and wrong.
        You are the reason why I made this comment. You are probably someone who goes to games and gets drunk and curses in front of little kids. You are the obnoxious philly fan who takes things a little too seriously and wants to fight opposing team’ s fans at games. So my response is based on the fans that I have encountered at games And their idiotic behavior that runs through that city and their sport’ s teams. Thanks for proving my point.

  5. nolasoxfan2012 - Feb 20, 2014 at 12:12 PM

    Does it seem like Amaro is trying to push this onto his scouting director, Marti Wolever? I mean, why would he send inquiries to him? Are we supposed to think only Wolever knew about this, not his boss, the GM?

  6. NatsLady - Feb 20, 2014 at 12:34 PM

    Not unprecedented. Apparently the Blue Jays did something like this to James Paxton.

    http://sportsagentblog.com/2010/03/03/james-paxtons-college-baseball-career-is-over/

    • historiophiliac - Feb 20, 2014 at 12:56 PM

      That sucks.

      • historiophiliac - Feb 20, 2014 at 12:56 PM

        Drat! “Stinks,” I mean. I’m trying to wean myself of that one.

      • stex52 - Feb 20, 2014 at 3:08 PM

        Don’t worry philiac. We know you spend Saturday night down at the docks arm wrestling sailors for drinks. :-)

      • historiophiliac - Feb 20, 2014 at 3:10 PM

        As if. Don’t let the swearing fool you. I am a lady.

      • stex52 - Feb 20, 2014 at 4:29 PM

        Hey, that sounds like a relatively respectable way to get your drinks.

      • historiophiliac - Feb 20, 2014 at 4:38 PM

        As the men with deeper pockets (to buy more drinks) are often older, I think it’s a little unfair — and, really, more work than necessary.

      • anthonyverna - Feb 21, 2014 at 11:26 AM

        Admit it! You haven’t been trying well!

    • angrytwitterguy - Feb 20, 2014 at 10:22 PM

      I didn’t read anywhere there though that directly accused the Blue Jays of going to the NCAA to turn him in though, maybe I missed it though.

    • hijackthemic - Feb 21, 2014 at 2:47 PM

      They did it on accident because they’re dumb. Still wasn’t cool, but at least it wasn’t purposeful, so they didn’t get hammered. No such luck with the Phillies.

  7. yardleyphils - Feb 20, 2014 at 3:58 PM

    HalladaysBiceps for GM. He would be less embarrassing than RAJ.

  8. buddysguys - Feb 20, 2014 at 4:07 PM

    Dont declare early then and break the NCAA rules that you are supposed to abide by simple as that. Guess they should have taken the money thaat they were so eager to see was available at this point in their career.

    • Liam - Feb 20, 2014 at 4:15 PM

      You don’t know how the MLB draft works, clown. Wetzler never declared for anything. Players are automatically draft eligible after their senior year of high school and again after their junior and senior years of college. (JuCo guys are eligible after each season and some players are also old enough to be draft eligible sophomores). Wetzler was in the MLB draft because of when he graduated high school, not any specific declaration on his part.

      • buddysguys - Feb 20, 2014 at 4:30 PM

        thanks for pointing out that baseball is a joke and drafts 12 year olds as their future

      • tuberippin - Feb 23, 2014 at 5:00 AM

        ^ You’re thinking of soccer.

    • yahmule - Feb 20, 2014 at 5:52 PM

      Buddy Guy has crapped things smarter than you.

  9. stercuilus65 - Feb 20, 2014 at 8:17 PM

    Don’t do the crime if you cant do the time. No sympathy.

  10. Jonny 5 - Feb 20, 2014 at 8:46 PM

    The only logical explanation for any of this would be that player had an agreement in place with the Phillies which they burned a pick on and then the kid backed out. Otherwise I don’t see this going down like it has.

  11. mpzz - Feb 20, 2014 at 10:07 PM

    If it’s against the rules, it’s against the rules. Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time.

    • 4cornersfan - Feb 21, 2014 at 3:44 AM

      Anybody with any sense knows it’s a smart thing to hire an experienced lawyer before entering into a contract that binds you for several years and could be worth millions. The same caveat also applies to hiring a sports agent, most of whom are lawyers. As Craig points out, the NCAA rule is dumb and harmful. The Phillies and the NCAA, what a combination.

  12. roro1015 - Feb 21, 2014 at 9:29 AM

    Wow… How far our Phils have fell since Pat Gillick stepped down!! Wake up Montgomery and pull the trigger before it’s too late!!

  13. fishmatt - Feb 21, 2014 at 10:07 AM

    It actually makes some sense for them to do this. The kid has two options sign with the Phillies or go back to school. If the Phillies eliminate the go back to school option, doesn’t that increase their odds of signing him. Eveyone is saying that it is sour grapes, but there could actually be a strategical (albeit dickish) reason for them to do it. Unless the deadline to sign him has passed, but since Craig didn’t mention that, nor did another story I read about it, I assume that isn’t the case.

    • daveitsgood - Feb 21, 2014 at 1:50 PM

      From a business ethics stand point it makes zero sense to do this and is ethically and morally bunk. Kids already don’t have much leverage and are expected to negotiate and sign their first and/or potentially only professional contract w/o the help of a professional while the team can. The rules are already stacked against the player, so you’re saying from a business standpoint, let’s cut the legs out from under the player by taking away their only piece of leverage that they do have in making their professional and life decision at the age of 18-22 and that’s ok because it corners them into signing with them. That said, it also is a horrible negotiating tactic long term as you’d burn bridges w/agents, advisors, future draftees and should the player pan out and reaches free agency, it can be assumed that they would have a bad taste in their mouth and create a hostile negotiation environment. Throughout the industry, its common practice for players to have Agency/Advisors that do the negotiations and is routinely overlooked by teams without complaining to the NCAA. Why don’t more teams turn players in to the NCAA? Well, it’s bad business, has no bearing on the MLB side of things and is ethically reprehensible from the business standpoint. Why did the Phils do it? Do you believe that they found some type of edge in negotiating w/players that nobody has ever thought of and are exploiting the new market inefficiency in negotiating w/players or are they just being vindictive? I’m inclined to believe the latter based on the industry norm of these things.

    • hijackthemic - Feb 21, 2014 at 2:45 PM

      Good strategy? No more medical reports released to the Phillies (and another team sharing them a serious crime). No more interviews with players you want to draft. No more negotiations with that player, his parents, or his secret agent before drafting them. Not even phone calls with them. Phillies scouts banned from attending workouts at college or high school baseball programs. Literally, not allowed on the property. That sound like a good trade-off to you?

  14. pdixon920 - Feb 21, 2014 at 3:09 PM

    I might actually agree with this article if it wasn’t coming from a Phillie hater who just likes to pile on…how can anyone lend any credibility to a word you say about a franchise for which you display so much negative bias? This is largely a good site, why don’t you stick to posts about teams other than the Phillies or Braves, where you are completely incapable of displaying any kind of objectivity? Its actually laughable at this point, in fact, I’m not even sure why I am lending any creedence to anything you say about either franchise by commenting.

  15. campcouch - Feb 22, 2014 at 4:42 AM

    MLB is pretty good about their “unwritten rules”,so if this is a normal practice it looks Philly just broke one.

  16. imnotsorryisaidthat - Feb 22, 2014 at 8:01 PM

    He wanted more money than his draft slot allotted…consulted a agent…got caught…blame the kid not the fightins

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