If you are interested in how this all turns out, circle your calendars, you won't have long to wait...circle, May 26, 2003. This is the date that Doetsch either decides to cast his fate with the Phillies, or reenters this years draft, where he is almost certain to be a top 3 round pick, and could sneak into the 2nd round. Easy enough, you probably say, just offer him 2nd or 3rd round money and he will certainly sign, this was, after all, a guy who lasted till the 8th round of the draft.
Ah, this is where things get sticky, the difference between perception and reality. The reality is that Mr. Doetsch lasted till the 8th round, a good 200 plus players were drafted before him. The Phillies, as do most teams, believe in paying "slot" money...the amount of money that is determined by your slot in the draft, an 8th round pick gets 8th round money. Oh, the Phils have been known to fudge a bit, they got Buchholtz to give up a college scholarship to North Carolina by offering that 6th round pick 3rd round money.... and have never regretted one dime of it. Good for the Phillies! They also offered 3rd round money a few years ago to a 4h round pick, Terry Jones, to get him to give up his scholarship to the University of California. So far, Jones has been disappointing at the bat in the Phils farm system. Bad for the Phillies! So.... its a roulette wheel that you spin and hope you come up big...the question is how big in the case of Doetsch? And here is where the perception sets in.
You see, Doetsch, and many others thought he might be a 1st or 2nd round pick last June, certainly Baseball America thought he would go no lower than 2nd round. He was their 61st best prospect in the draft. In fact, they had him rated as the 7th best prospect in the entire state of Florida...a veritable utopia of baseball talent due to the outstanding baseball weather conditions. His strengths were speed, size (6'2", 190 lbs), arm strength and power potential. So, it was not surprising that Doetsch expected a phone call in the first few hours of the draft.... that he had to wait till after lunch probably surprised, disappointed...and angered him. He has since taken this anger out on the Phillies, ironic in the fact that they, indeed, did draft him...and probably offered him no better than 5th or 6th round money.
The haggling went on all summer...and when August turned to September, Doetsch enrolled in a JC...Indian River Community College. Many optimistic fans took this to mean that he intended to work on his shortcomings, consistent bat contact being the big one, and sign with the Phils as a Draft and Follow prospect, something you are allowed to do if you enroll in a Junior or Community College.
Unfortunately, given the comments I was reading during the occasionally acrimonious summer negotiations, I felt that he was enrolling at a JC so he could reenter this years draft.... he definitely wants to play pro baseball, and that his anger at the Phils would keep the two parties from ever coming together. Needless to say, he had a wonderful season, hitting, fielding and hitting with the power that many scouts projected he would develop. He seemed a player on a mission.... and the mission was to prove to all the teams, and specifically the Phillies, that he was better than his draft position. And no one will argue that he did that, he is now rated as one of the best draft and follow prospects in the nation.... and a player that the Phils would do well to sign.
The Phillies resurrection as an organization began in 1993 when the Phillies signed a Scouting Director from the Atlanta Braves named Mike Arbuckle. An unassuming man, this guy literally turned the Phillies scouting, drafting and development system upside down with his shrewd picks. Now Arbuckle didn't do it alone. No, his Rolodex file helped him.... the guys that he brought along with him. The scouts, the coaches, and the bird dogs...the guys in his Rolodex file that he could call on at a minute's notice to find out about a prospect, a player, a coach, a team.
You see, I have a theory.... when you are ready to hire someone, look at his Rolodex file before bringing him on board, because whom you hire will bring those Rolodex file guys with him. In Arbuckle's case, it's a tremendous list, a list that included Marti Wolever. It is probably Wolever's task to decide how well Doetsch would look in Philly pinstripes. And here is the other rub. The Phillies do many things well, they are among the BEST in baseball at drafting, signing and developing HS pitchers.
Don't believe me? Okay, close your eyes and pretend that the year is 2006. Ask about the pitching rotation of the Phillies and you are told Gavin Floyd, Brett Myers, Cole Hamels, Ryan Madson and Taylor Buchholtz. You smile, and visions of shutouts and playoff wins dance in your head. Justifiably so!!! All were HS draftees, signed sealed and developed by the Phillies in the past 5 years, quite impressive to say the least. Then close those same eyes and ask about the outfield prospects coming up through the system. And here is where it gets murky. The Phillies may have Jorge Padilla on the way. Jake Blalock seems to have some potential, and there is always a chance that Eric Valent will rediscover his lost stroke. But these are all maybes.... big ones!
Here is where Doetsch fits into the equation, a solid talent at a position where the dearth of talent is noticeable. A top rated pick (he will not last 4 rounds this June) to sign in a year when the Phillies do not pick until the 3rd round, due to the free agent signings of Thome and Bell. It's a seeming match made in heaven. It would certainly seem to behoove Doetsch to sign with the Phillies, a team that he could progress with quickly. It would seem to behoove the Phillies to sign Doetsch, a guy that desperately fills a position need.
In the end, it may turn on reality, it may turn on perception.... or it may ultimately turn on just where the rising value of the Doetsch mark lies.
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