Results tagged ‘ Marti Wolever ’
The Phillies have a replacement for former assistant general manager of amateur scouting Marti Wolever, whom they dismissed late last month.
They announced today they have hired Braves international scouting director Johnny Almaraz to be their amateur scouting director. He will run the Phillies’ First-Year Player Drafts, which Wolever had done since 2002.
It will be new role for Almaraz.
“We couldn’t be happier to add someone of Johnny’s caliber to our baseball operations staff,” Phillies assistant general manager Benny Looper said in a statement. “He has established a reputation for being able to identify future Major League talent and brings a great deal of experience to the Phillies.”
Almaraz had been Atlanta’s international scouting director since 2008. His most notable signings are Julio Teheran and Christian Bethancourt. Before joining the Braves in 2006 as director of Latin America operations, he spent 16 years as a scout with the Reds. There he signed amateurs like Adam Dunn, Johnny Cueto and B.J. Ryan.
Wolever had been running the Phillies’ First-Year Player Drafts since 2002, but success had been scattered. MLB.com in June examined the Phillies’ Drafts from 2004-13. Forty-six picks reached the big leagues, which tied the A’s and Rangers for seventh best in baseball.
But the quality of the Phillies’ picks ranked last. According to baseballreference.com, the combined WAR (Wins Above Replacement) of Phillies picks over the past 10 years was 20.7, which was 24.6 points lower than the 29th ranked Blue Jays (45.3). The big league average was 82.7.
Wolever, who has been running the organization’s First-Year Player Drafts for more than a decade, had been with the organization since 1992.
“The Phillies express appreciation for Marti’s many years of service to the organization,” Amaro said in a statement.
Wolever could not be reached for comment.
One of the reasons the Phillies slid in the standings in recent seasons is because they have not had enough talent coming through the farm system. They took Cole Hamels with the No. 17 pick in 2002, but since then have produced few impact players or pitchers.
Recent first-round picks included Greg Golson (2004), Kyle Drabek (2006), Joe Savery (2007), Anthony Hewitt (2008), Jesse Biddle (2010), J.P. Crawford (2013) and Aaron Nola (2014). Supplemental first-round picks included Adrian Cardenas (2006), Travis d’Arnaud (2007), Zach Collier (2008), Larry Greene (2011), Mitch Guellar (2012) and Shane Watson (2012).
There have been more misses than hits, although Wolever’s final first-round picks – Crawford and Nola – could be his best.
Before this year’s draft, MLB.com examined the Phillies’ previous 10 drafts (2004-13). Forty-six draft picks reached the big leagues, which tied the A’s and Rangers for seventh-best in baseball. The average in that span was 41.8 players per organization.
But the quality of the Phillies’ picks ranked last. According to Baseball Reference, the combined WAR (Wins Above Replacement) of Phillies’ picks over the past 10 years was 20.7, which was 24.6 points lower than the 29th ranked Blue Jays (45.3).
The Red Sox (142.7), Braves (133.3), Angels (124.4), Yankees (120.5) and Diamondacks (120.1) were in the top five. The Phillies, Blue Jays, Mets (49.5), Twins (49.6) and Marlins (51.8) were in the bottom five.
The big-league average was 82.7.
“When you pick down low, sometimes your interest changes a little because you have a chance to take a little bit safer pick or take a chance if it hits with a high ceiling,” Wolever said in May. “You reach out and you take Golsons and Saverys and you roll the dice on Anthony Hewitt and you hope that you hit based on their tools and their athletic ability. Some do, some don’t and some of them haven’t and we need to do a better job in that regard, but it’s based on a lot of factors that come into play.”
It should be noted Wolever’s drafts produced players like Ryan Howard and Hamels as well as the players that helped the Phillies acquire talents like Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt, Hunter Pence, Brad Lidge and others.
But Wolever also got the Phillies snared in a controversy with the NCAA and two picks the Phillies failed to sign in 2013. Wolever reported those players to the NCAA for violating its “no agent” rule during negotiations.
“We probably could have handled things a little bit better,” Amaro said on 94WIP in March.
Wolever said in May he had no regrets.
“The only regret I have is taking players that had no intent of signing,” Wolever said. “That’s the only regret I have.”
One wonders if Amaro will look next at the player development staff. Are the organization’s shortcomings in the farm system a matter of lackluster drafts or lackluster drafts and poor player development?
One thing seems fairly certain: Wolever’s dismissal will not be the only change Amaro makes in the front office.
They have said it is a coincidence, but through the 25th round of the 2014 First-Year Player Draft they have selected 24 college players (96 percent). That is way above the average for the Phillies over the previous 10 drafts. Here is a look at those drafts with information provided by Baseball Reference:
- 2004: 32 of 50 players drafted were four-year, junior or community college players (64 percent)
- 2005: 27 of 49 (55.1 percent)
- 2006: 30 of 51 (58.8 percent)
- 2007: 26 of 52 (50 percent)
- 2008: 26 of 53 (49.1 percent)
- 2009: 30 of 49 (61.2 percent)
- 2010: 35 of 50 (70 percent)
- 2011: 27 of 51 (52.9 percent)
- 2012: 21 of 42 (50 percent)
- 2013: 26 of 41 (63.4 percent)
College players represented 280 of 488 (57.4 percent) of Phillies draft picks over the previous 10 years.
They selected Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo left-hander Matt Imhof with the 47th overall pick in the second round. Imhof, who is 6-foot-5, 220 pounds, is considered a late bloomer, having not been drafted out of high school.
“Big left-hander with a plus fastball, average to above breaking ball and a lot deception in his delivery,” Marti Wolever said. “We’ve seen a lot of him. From USA team last summer and again this spring. And certainly a rotation guy we think. We think middle to the back of the rotation.”
MLB.com’s scouting report says Imhof, “pitches downhill with natural cutting movement on his fastball. His short, sharp slider is an out pitch at times. He has solid feel for a changeup, though it’s still a work in progress. Imhof is generally around the plate with all of his pitches and has been one of the nation’s top strikeout pitchers. There’s still some upside to Imhof as he continues to fill out, giving him the chance to be in a big league rotation in the future.”
Imhof went 10-4 with a 2.45 ERA in 15 starts this season. He allowed 65 hits, 43 walks and struck out 124 batters in 99 1/3 innings.
“He’s got a chance to go through (the farm system) a little quicker,” Wolever said. “Not as quickly as (first-round pick Aaron) Nola, but he throws strikes and he commands the strike zone so that certainly works to his advantage.”
The draft continues with the third round tomorrow. The Phillies most certainly will start taking some position players on the second day.
“Some of the bats that we kind of focused on were gone at that point and we thought he was the best option at that point in time,” Wolever said of their second-round pick.
They followed through and selected LSU right-hander Aaron Nola.
“We would hope that in a couple of years he could be here pitching here in the organization with the Major League team,” Phillies assistant general manager of amateur scouting Marti Wolever said. “It’s hard to say, but within a couple of years, I think that’s a pretty safe estimate.”
MLB.com considered Nola the sixth-best player available in the Draft, and most scouts project him to be the first starting pitcher to appear in the big leagues. He is 6-foot-1, 195 pounds, so he is not imposing on the mound. But Nola has excellent command of his pitches, which includes a two-seam and four-seam fastball, a changeup and a breaking ball. His fastball sits in the 92-94 mph range, although Wolever said he has seen him touch 97 mph.
“A name that was mentioned upstairs (in the Phillies front office) quite frequently was Tim Hudson,” Wolever said, when asked for a comparable big-league pitcher. “I hate to put it on these kids because now all of a sudden they’ve got to live up to that. But that was tossed around quite a bit with our group. Just the command and the life on his fastball. … There’s something to say about having ‘now’ stuff. And that’s what Aaron Nola has. Aaron Nola has ‘now’ stuff. We don’t really have to project a lot because it’s already here.”
Nola, 21, is eager to get started.
“I kind of want to get going,” he said in a telephone interview Thursday night. “I look forward to getting up there.”
It sounds like that should not be a problem. Wolever said he thinks they are “very close” to signing Nola. Once he signs, it would not be a surprise to see him begin his professional career with Class A Clearwater, but because he threw 116 1/3 inning this season the Phillies plan to bring him along slowly.
The Phillies have the seventh overall pick in next week’s draft, their highest selection since they picked right-hander Gavin Floyd with the fourth pick in 2001. They took Cole Hamels with the No. 17 pick in 2002, but since then the best thing that can be said about the organization’s first-round picks is that two of them (Kyle Drabek and Travis d’Arnaud) helped them acquire Roy Halladay from the Blue Jays in Dec. 2009.
The list includes Greg Golson, Joe Savery, Adrian Cardenas, Zach Collier, Anthony Hewitt and Larry Greene.
“Circumstances are a little different,” assistant general manager of amateur scouting Marti Wolever said. “Seven or eight years ago, you had to have an opportunity to play here. If you were a first baseman or a second baseman or a shortstop or a catcher, guess what, you weren’t going to play here for a while. … You reach out and you take Golsons and Saverys and you roll the dice on Anthony Hewitt and you hope that you hit based on their tools and their athletic ability. Some do, some don’t and some of them haven’t and we need to do a better job in that regard, but it’s based on a lot of factors that come into play.”
Forty-six Phillies draft picks have reached the big leagues over the previous 10 drafts (2004-13), which ties the A’s and Rangers for seventh-best in baseball. The average in that span is 41.8 players per organization. But the quality of the Phillies’ picks ranks last. According to Baseball Reference, the combined WAR (Wins Above Replacement) of Phillies draft picks over the past 10 years is 20.7, which is a remarkable 24.6 points lower than the 29th ranked Blue Jays (45.3).
The Red Sox (142.7), Braves (133.3), Angels (124.4), Yankees (120.5) and Diamondacks (120.1) are in the top five. The Phillies, Blue Jays, Mets (49.5), Twins (49.6) and Marlins (51.8) are in the bottom five.
The big-league average is 82.7.
There are things to consider with those rankings:
- Recent draft picks do not figure into the equation as much, if at all, because they are still coming through the farm system or just beginning their big-league careers. Class A Lakewood shortstop J.P. Crawford, who the Phillies selected in the first round last year, could be a superstar, but he nets the Phillies nothing today. The same can be said for former draft picks Jarred Cosart and Jonathan Singleton, who are with the Astros. Of course, the same came be said for the other 29 teams, too.
- Second, the Phillies have not selected higher than 16th overall in the past 10 years. There is a big difference drafting high in the first round compared to low in the first round. Still, there are gems to be found everywhere.
- Third, the rankings consider players drafted, whether or not they signed with the organization. So the Angels get credit for selecting Buster Posey in the 50th round in 2005 and Matt Harvey in the third round in 2007, even though neither signed. Then again, the Phillies got 6.2 points for Vance Worley, whom they drafted twice.
- Fourth and certainly not least, how much is the player development side involved?
But generally speaking the Phillies have not fared well in the past 10 drafts. Their top three performers based on WAR are J.A. Happ (5.6, third round pick in 2004), A.J. Griffin (4.4, 34th round in 2009, but did not sign) and Worley (3.6, 20th round in 2005 and third round in 2008).
That is something that must change.
Larry Greene is a big kid with a chance to hit a lot of home runs someday at Citizens Bank Park.
The Phillies selected him Monday with the 39th overall pick in the First-Year Player Draft. Greene is a left-handed-hitting corner outfielder that shares some similarities to Class A Clearwater first baseman Jonathan Singleton, who is one of the top prospects in baseball.
“He’s a man amongst young men,” Phillies director of scouting Marti Wolever said of Greene. “He is really strong and powerful. He’s just a really good athlete. He might have a little bit more power (than Singleton). He’s built like him. His stroke is comparable. The bat speed is comparable.”
Greene, 18, hit .562 with 11 doubles, one triple, 19 home runs, 52 RBIs, 58 runs scored and 13 stolen bases this season for Berrien County High School in Nashville, Ga. Greene, who is 6-foot-1, 225 pounds, earned a football scholarship to Alabama, but will play baseball. He has committed to Chipola Junior College in Marianna, Fla. Greene said he isn’t sure if he would bypass pro ball for college, but he sounded like he wants to sign.
Baseball America ranked Greene its 75th overall prospect. The magazine compared Greene to Russell Branyan, but Wolever does not think that comparison fits because he believes Greene will make better contact.
Greene projects as an average outfielder.
“We thought he was the best option for us,” Wolever said. “We did a lot of work and spent a lot of time this year watching him play.”
The draft continues at noon Tuesday with rounds 2 through 30. It concludes Wednesday with rounds 31 through 50.
The Phillies’ next selection will be in the second round (66th overall).
That didn’t take long.
The Phillies have reached an agreement with second-round draft pick Kelly Dugan, a switch-hitting centerfielder from California.
Dugan, who is 6-foot-3, is from Sherman Oaks, Calif. The Phillies like Dugan because he shows power from both sides of the plate and because he has great makeup. He hit .379 with eight home runs and 35 RBIs as a senior at Notre Dame High School. He hit .438 with four homers and 28 RBIs as a junior.
“The makeup is a separator,” Phillies scouting director Marti Wolever said. “This young man’s got tremendous makeup, and we’ve found over the years [that] guys with great makeup really achieve what they’re supposed to achieve, and we think he will do that.”
The June 17 game against the Blue Jays has been selected for ESPN Wednesday Night Baseball. The game will air on ESPN and ESPN HD at 7:05 p.m. The game will be blacked out locally and will air on Comcast SportsNet.