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)
Yasiel Puig made a public appearance today. He was a guest barista at a Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf in Los Angeles as part of a charity . . . thing. I dunno. I just hope that, after finishing the foam on someone’s latte he airmailed it past his fellow barista at the counter and got it to the customer on the fly 300 feet away, after which he flipped the espresso machine. Gotta stay on-brand.
After that he talked about baseball. Puig, who was demoted last season and then brought back up in a part-time role, said that it’s his goal to be a starter again, if not in Los Angeles than someplace else. As for the someplace else, the Dodgers explored a Puig trade last season and it was thought they’d try again this offseason, but it’s been all quiet on that front.
What is Puig, for his part, doing to become a starter again? Getting in shape. From MLB.com:
Puig has been working out at Dodger Stadium the last two weeks. He is conditioning his leaner body to avoid injuries that have plagued him and working with batting coaches in search of regaining the impact bat that once had him on the verge of superstardom . . . The 6-foot-2 Puig, who last year was listed at 240 pounds, now has a personal chef to prepare healthier foods.
A leaner Puig. That’ll certainly be a game-changer, right?
Yet as a new season dawns, the team still hopes he can recapture the form he displayed as a rookie in 2013. The organization asked Puig to slim down and focus on durability rather than musculature. Friedman sounded pleased with the result. Puig had suggested he weighed about 240 pounds, down 15 from his listed weight in 2015.
Oops. That was from January 30, 2016.
If he keeps getting leaner each offseason eventually he’ll just disappear, right?
Corey Dickerson of the Tampa Bay Rays wasn’t a super huge guy or anything, but he’s going to be smaller this year: he told reporters today that he’s lost 25 pounds. He attributes it to a new diet and a workout regimen and says it’ll help him with his running, swing and throwing.
Dickerson had a down year in 2016, so if losing 25 pounds is something he thinks will work for him he’s got nothing to lose. Of course the best way for him to improve his numbers is to convince the Rays to trade him back to Colorado, but that’s not likely.