Phillies Working On Final Draft Signings

Julian Sampson

This year's draft class has an August 15th deadline for signing with the team that drafted them. If you glance at the calendar, that date is coming fast and the Phillies are working against the clock. We've got an update on their progress.

The Phillies still have six of their top 30 draft picks unsigned with just one day to go until the signing deadline. All six are high school players and the real urgency is focused on Brandon Workman, their third round pick, and Julian Sampson, who the Phillies drafted in the 12th round of this past June's draft.

Here's a look at the progress on each of the prospects.

Brandon Workman has a college scholarship to attend the University of Texas and seems pretty comfortable with simply starting his college career. The truth is that the Phillies probably reached a little for him in the draft, from where most scouts had him pegged. Workman though believes that he not only deserves third round money, he deserves to be paid "over slot", or over what a player taken in his spot would normally sign for.

Workman is a tall - 6' 4" - right-hander who would look good in the Phillies organization. Workman was pretty much unhittable at Bowie (Texas) High School, going 18-3 with ERAs under one in both his junior and senior seasons. Hailing from Texas, it's not going to be easy to talk Workman into walking away from the University of Texas and into his pro career, especially since he believes his stock will only rise from playing college ball.

Julian Sampson also has a college scholarship waiting for him at the University of Washington. The odds of signing Sampson are less than that of Workman, since some fine tuning at the college level very well could improve Sampson's stock in later drafts. Plus, he's sticking close to home for college, having grown up in Sammamish, Washington and is looking forward to playing at the University of Washington on a full scholarship.

Like Workman, Sampson is a tall right-hander, who was pretty much unhittable in high school ball. Scouts have compared Sampson to Jake Peavey and believe that he'll only get better as he matures. The question is, will he do that maturing in college or in the pro ranks with the Phillies.

If Workman and Sampson are tempted by the thought of playing for their "home" colleges, 18th round pick Mark Adzick grew up in Philadelphia and went to the William Penn Charter School, which may give the Phillies a bit of a hometown advantage. The left-hander has a scholarship to Wake Forest and while the Phillies are doing what they can to convince him to turn pro, the prospect of just how much Adzick could increase his stock by pitching in college is likely to steer him that way.

The final pitcher of the bunch is right-hander Carlos Moncrief. The Phillies drafted Moncrief in the 20th round and he thought he would go much higher. Since the draft, Moncrief hasn't shown much inclination to signing, believing that he can do much better for himself even though he doesn't have a scholarship at a big time Division-1 school waiting for him. Instead, Moncrief is slated to attend Chipola Community College and it doesn't appear that the Phillies will be able to change his mind.

The Phillies also have an outfielder and catcher in the group of their unsigned first thirty picks. Outfielder Cedric Johnson was taken in the 19th round and the Arizona high school product has a scholarship to Brigham Young University in his back pocket. Like Moncrief, Johnson thought that he might go higher and is likely to pursue a college career and see what future drafts may hold for him.

Finally, is 29th round pick Derek Hall. Hall may be the most available of the remaining picks, since he hasn't even decided where he might want to go to school next year and doesn't have a scholarship to keep him away from the Phillies. With some doubts about his future, this is a kid who may be much better off simply taking what money he can get and starting a pro career rather than looking to increase his stock in future drafts. Of course, the Phillies have a number of young catchers in the system and aren't sweating out Hall's decision.

The bottom line: Several teams have cracked under the new deadline and have given players above slot paychecks. The Phillies are generally one of the last teams to open their wallets any further than necessary, so signing either Workman or Sampson could be tough. If they don't sign either, the draft is mediocre. If they sign one of them, the draft is pretty good, but if they can get both Workman and Sampson inked, then the 2007 Draft is looking very good for the Phillies. Anyone else would simply be icing on the cake.

Look for the Phillies to finally blink, put above slot offers out to Workman and Sampson with the condition that the first one to take it gets it and the other can start shopping for text books. It's likely that Workman will bite and the Phillies will get him and leave Sampson for the University of Washington.

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