Phils Take Lefty Slugger With 39th Pick

Larry Greene Jr. has had to do a lot of growing up over the past few months. Now, that growing up reaches a new phase as he negotiates a deal with the Phillies to start his professional baseball career.

The Phillies didn't know who or what they would be able to find when their first pick in the draft - the 39th overall - finally rolled around.

What they found is a left-handed hitting power prospect who some call a Jonathan Singleton clone. The who is Larry Greene Jr, a product of Berrien High School in Nashville, Georgia.

Greene has shown considerable power and skills on the field, but perhaps his best qualities have been shown away from the field. Greene's mother, Denise, passed away from complications of diabetes the day after Christmas, just as her son was starting to feel the full spotlight of being a baseball prospect.

For his part, Greene has already made some major decisions in his life, including turning down a full scholarship to play linebacker at the University of Alabama. With that behind him, Greene appears ready to start his professional baseball career just as soon as he possibly can.

"I'm thinking I'll be in Philly," said Greene on a post-draft conference call with reporters.

The Phillies also believe that they'll be able to get Greene signed quickly as well.

Some reports had Greene ranked as low as 75th on prospect charts, primarily because of an ankle injury that he suffered during his senior season. The Phillies looked past that injury and saw the true potential that he offered and selected him with the 39th overall pick. "We saw him play a lot and he plays hard," said Phillies scouting director Marti Wolever. "He's a good kid."

The Phillies lost their right to a first round pick when they signed Cliff Lee as a free agent, giving the Texas Rangers the 33rd overall pick in the draft. With that pick, the Rangers selected high school lefty Kevin Matthews.

For losing Jayson Werth in free agency, the Phillies received the 39th overall pick and will receive the Washington Nationals second round pick - 66th overall - as compensation. Since the Nationals first round pick was in the top 15 selections, they did not have to sacrifice that pick to the Phillies, instead losing their second round pick in exchange for signing Werth. The Phillies also have their own second round pick - 90th overall - on day two of the draft.

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