The MLBPA is looking into the Ben Wetzler case

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Last week it was revealed that the Phillies reported Oregon State pitcher Ben Wetzler to the NCAA for using an agent in negotiations with the Phillies after being drafted last summer. Wetzler was suspended for 20 percent of his senior year as a result. The Phillies have received considerable backlash from the report, as reporting the use of agents by amateurs is highly irregular among major league teams.

Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com reports that the MLBPA is looking into the matter. Quotes from union president Tony Clark:

“The interest is the same we would have in the draft in general,” Clark said. “These guys are connected to our institution. We have some input to the rules and the dynamics (of the draft) and that’s why anything related to it we have a concern about it or a commitment to pay attention to it.

“To that extent, we are gathering information as we speak. Yes, we are concerned. Based on what we find out will determine what, if anything, lends itself to further discussion, but we are concerned enough to be inquiring.”

I’m glad someone is inquiring, though it remains to be seen what if anything the union could do about it. Yes, they have input on the draft. But they have also routinely sold out players subject to the draft in exchange for furthering the interests of major leaguers. That’s why there’s slotting now. If the MLBPA truly advocated for draftees, they would have never agreed to that.

The real danger here is teams using threats of reporting players to the NCAA in order to coerce them to sign on unfavorable terms. That’s something Major League Baseball should be looking into, not just the MLBPA.

Brandon Belt, Jaime Barrios set new modern record with 21-pitch at-bat

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Angels starter Jaime Barrios and Giants first baseman Brandon Belt set a new modern record with a 21-pitch at-bat in the first inning of Sunday afternoon’s game in Anaheim. Belt fell behind 1-2 and mostly kept fouling pitches off. The count ran full on the ninth pitch and Belt would foul off 11 more pitches before finally lining out to right field.

As Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle notes, the previous record was set on June 26, 1998 when the Indians’ Bartolo Colon and the Astros’ Ricky Gutierrez battled for 20 pitches. Gutierrez eventually struck out.