Phillies Notes: Amaro speaks on draftee's suspension

Ruben Amaro Jr.
Ruben Amaro Jr.
Posted: February 24, 2014

CLEARWATER, Fla. - Ruben Amaro Jr. is not worried about repercussions from a former draft pick's suspension stemming from an NCAA investigation that started with a tip from a Phillies employee.

"I think people know we do things professionally and the way we go about our business," the Phillies general manager said Saturday. "So I think our reputation is very good."

Oregon State lefthander Ben Wetzler was suspended Friday for 11 games. Wetzler, the NCAA said, used an agent who attended meetings with the Phillies and negotiated contract terms. The Phillies did not sign Wetzler, their fifth-round pick last June, and took the unusual step of reporting him last November.

Before Amaro answered seven questions, the club released a 36-word statement Saturday: "The Phillies did participate in the NCAA investigation and a ruling has been issued. We believe it is inappropriate to comment further on either the negotiation with the player or the action taken by the NCAA."

The last-known instance of a major-league team reporting a violation to the NCAA, according to Baseball America, was in 1992, when the White Sox turned in A.J. Hinch. The Phillies, industry experts believe, could encounter blowback from prospective draftees, their coaches, and agents.

Amaro said he was aware of the incident when it was raised last November. When asked whether the decision to report Wetzler was cleared by the general manager himself, Amaro responded: "I was aware, that's all I can say."

Earlier in the week, Amaro referred all inquiries to assistant general manager Marti Wolever, who oversees the team's amateur draft. Wolever, Amaro said, will remain in that role. He was not available for comment.

It was unclear whether any team employees were punished for the incident.

The university will appeal the ruling. It issued a caustic, 821-word release Friday night that questioned the intentions of the NCAA and its "no-agent" bylaw.

Steve Clark, Oregon State's vice president for university relations and marketing, said it was the school's "understanding" the Phillies' snitching spurred the investigation.

He would not detail the NCAA's evidence.

"If in fact this is true, that the Phillies were the folks that did this, we're disappointed," Clark said by phone. "Not because it's our student-athlete, but there is some inconsistency here."

The team may portray this as an isolated incident to future draftees. It could send Pat Gillick, a senior adviser and Hall of Famer, to mend relationships in the Pacific Northwest, where he maintains strong ties.

Wetzler's 11-game suspension represents 20 percent of Oregon State's season. The Phillies also reported Washington State outfielder Jason Monda, who was cleared of any wrongdoing before his senior season.

Extra bases. Righthander Jonathan Pettibone reported no pain in his shoulder after a morning catch. He will not know whether a cortisone injection had any effect until next week, when he throws a bullpen session. ... Ramon Henderson will not manage single-A Clearwater because of personal reasons. Nelson Prada was promoted to that position. Shawn Williams, son of former Phillies bench coach Jimy Williams, will manage single-A Williamsport.

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