Phillies select Georgia high schooler at No. 39

Gerrit Cole has the "overall package" to be a top pitcher in the game, said Pirates scouting director Greg Smith.
Gerrit Cole has the "overall package" to be a top pitcher in the game, said Pirates scouting director Greg Smith. (CHRISTIAN PETERSEN / Getty Images)

Larry Greene, a 6-foot-2, athletic outfielder, was the team's only pick on the first night of baseball's draft.

Posted: June 07, 2011

The Phillies did what they have done so often in the first-year player draft: They went for the athletic high school kid who could become a major star in the relatively distant future.

In this case, the player was Larry Greene, a 6-foot-2, 235-pound high school outfielder from Southern Georgia.

"He's really strong and powerful and he's really a very good athlete," Phillies scouting director Marti Wolever said after taking Greene Monday night with the 39th overall pick in the draft.

Greene was rated the 75th best player by Baseball America and projected as a second-round pick, but the Phillies saw enough from the lefthanded-hitting outfielder to believe he can be a leftfielder in the big leagues.

"We just thought he was the best option for us," Wolever said. "We thought he was a great fit for us."

Greene was in attendance at the MLB Network studios in Seacacus, N.J., when the Phillies made their pick, and he immediately donned a Phillies cap. He said the early selection surprised him.

"I knew I was good, but I didn't think I was that good," he said.

The news came at the end of a tough stretch for Greene and his father, Larry Sr., who lost his wife to diabetes late last year.

"She was a bad diabetic," the younger Greene said during a conference call. "It was pretty hard to go through. Me and my dad made it through, and she's watching now, so it's OK."

Wolever said the father attended all his son's games and was a great support system for the son.

"He's a really good dad," Wolever said.

Greene played at Berrien County High School in the same league as Kaleb Cowart, the 18th overall pick by the Los Angeles Angels in last year's draft.

"The competition is a lot better than it is given credit for," Wolever said. "Like any small town you'll have days where it's not very good, but they ran into some pretty good stuff. I think the two high schools were rivals."

Greene has committed to play at a junior college and said he wasn't sure if he would sign with the Phillies. Wolever said junior-college kids can sometimes be more difficult to sign because they can reenter the draft after one year instead of waiting until after their junior season.

Wolever described Greene as a future power hitter who will be an average leftfielder.

The scouting director also explained why the Phillies have chosen so many high school players in the past.

"I think sometimes the overuse and abuse some of the college kids go through - pitchers in particular - sometimes you have to start all over," Wolever said. "With some hitters from certain programs, they teach a certain style, it takes away the benefits that the players have, and you have to start all over again."

The Phillies only had one pick Monday night and will select 66th when the draft resumes Tuesday.

Pirates pick righty. The Pittsburgh Pirates selected hard-throwing UCLA righty Gerrit Cole with the No. 1 pick in the draft.

Cole, a 6-foot-4, 220-pound junior, posted mediocre numbers this season for the Bruins (6-8, 3.31 ERA) but has what many consider to be the best pure stuff in the draft. His college teammate, righthander Trevor Bauer, wasn't far behind, going third overall to Arizona.

Cole was a first-round pick of the New York Yankees in 2008, but refused to listen to an offer and instead attended UCLA - as he insisted to teams he would.

With the second choice, the Seattle Mariners tabbed Virginia lefty Danny Hultzen, the Atlantic Coast Conference pitcher of the year the last two seasons.


Contact staff writer Bob Brookover at bbrookover@phillynews.com or @brookob on Twitter.

This article contains information from the Associated Press.

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