Alert Phillies Found Sleepers In 2003 Draft

The Phillies were really hoping that one of three speed burners that they felt they needed to grab would be there when their first pick of the draft finally rolled around. As the baseball gods would have it, all three were there. When their next pick came up, the remaining two were there. When their third pick came up, the remaining guy was still sitting there just waiting for the Phillies to call his name.

The Phillies had a better draft day than they could have expected. Without having first or second round picks, the Phillies knew that they were going to have to find lower level guys who can develop. There weren't going to be any blue chip prospects for the Phillies to grab.

As draft time approached, they had narrowed their list of twelve choices to the top three. All three were speedsters and the Phillies figured that one of them would last until the 85th pick of the draft, helping to address the lack of speed in the organization.

As the draft entered the third round, the Phillies still had all three choices left on the board. The White Sox picked Clint King with the 82nd pick of the draft, meaning that even if the two teams ahead of the Phillies picked their guys, the Phillies would be guaranteed to get one of their men. At 83, the Marlins took infielder Jon Fulton and the Phillies now knew that they would have a choice of at least two. Quickly, they turned to their ranking of the three players to determine who they would choose above the others. At 84, the Red Sox grabbed pitcher Beau Vaughn from Arizona State and the Phillies best case scenario - at least what they thought at the time was the best case scenario - had come true.

The Phillies had already discussed all three players and went with Tim Moss, who they felt was the best prospect of the three. The choice was a little odd in that the Phillies have Chase Utley to fill the second base spot, which is where they drafted Moss, but they liked Moss' skills too much to pass on the University of Tennessee product. Another issue that made the choice of Moss a bit of an issue was a previous arrest on his record. Officially, Moss and a friend of his were charged with assaulting a man and Moss was also received additional charges for trying to elude police. Moss' version of the story is that he and his friend were coming to the aid of a woman, who was being harrassed by the "victim" of Moss' attack. After checking out the details, the Phillies believe Moss' version and didn't balk at taking him with their first available pick.

As the Phillies finished their celebration of the Moss pick, the draft was entering the fourth round. Surprisingly, the other two players the Phillies targeted were still there. They stayed there as the fourth round moved by and soon, the Phillies realized that both were still there and there were only two picks between them and both players. Rumor had the Marlins interested in some of the same players that the Phillies were and that they were also looking for outfielders, the very position that the two remaining Phillies picks played. The bet was that Florida would take one of their guys at 113, two picks ahead of the Phillies. Surprisingly, the Marlins reached for Jai Miller, who has a football scholarship to Stanford and has also declared his intention to be a walk on in Stanford's baseball program. Besides that obstacle, baseball is probably Miller's third best sport. The Phillies now knew that they would get two of their three favorites.

When the 115th pick in the draft arrived, both players were still there and the Phillies selected Michael Bourn from the University of Houston. Bourn, like Moss, has blazing speed and the Phillies love his athleticism. The Phillies thanked the baseball gods for their good fortune and looked toward round five. Surely, they couldn't go three-for-three. Or could they?

With the Phillies still watching their last guy, teams ahead of them were focusing on college players, just like the Phillies were doing. They had expanded their list, figuring that they might have to change course. They also thought about what to do if their third speedster was still there. Would they overload themselves by drafting three speed players? Did they need to forget about number three and focus on catching or power hitters? With the best catching prospects gone, the Phillies thought about Landon Powell, but were concerned about his signability. They needed to add power, but thought they could get that in later rounds. Speed, was the decision.

Again, their the Phillies watched as their number three guy survived pick after pick. Finally, one pick ahead of the Phillies, the Red Sox took Brian Marshall and the Phillies had now realized their true best-case scenario. Quickly, the Phillies announced Jovan Moran, an outfielder from Auburn as their fifth round pick. Moran has great speed, but some scouts wonder how he will adjust to professional pitchers and just how much he will hit, but the Phillies believe he'll come around. Moran completed the Phillies trifecta and they could now focus on other holes in the organization.

The Phillies believe that they got a great sleeper in Jordan Parraz in the sixth round. The guy can throw in the mid-90s, but was primarily an outfielder at Green Valley High School in Nevada. That means the Phillies essentially got a high school pitcher with low mileage on his great arm. The Phillies think he may need a little extra time to develop, but will be well worth the pick.

The Phillies also addressed the need for power with Nebraska's Matt Hopper. The young first baseman has a power stroke and the Phillies believe he can progress quickly through the ranks.

As for catchers, the Phillies didn't get a lot of quality, but they settled on some guys they think are best described as projects. In all, the Phillies drafted four catchers, with Jose Cortez being the highest drafted in the fourteenth round. Cortez is out of tiny Pomona-Pitzer College and figures to develop slowly, but seems to have the basic tools. The Phillies took another small college catcher in Robert Johnson out of Saddleback Community College in the eighteenth round. From there, they took two other college catchers, each from big colleges. Charles Waite from Mississippi was drafted in the twenty-third round and Justin Riley of North Carolina State came to the Phils in the thirty-fourth round. All four are very signable, meaning that if nothing else, they were safe picks for the Phillies.

The Phillies version of Mr.Irrelevant - the last player picked in the draft - was Tad Reida of Kokomo Western High School. Reida was one of five final picks that will likely head to college, but that the Phillies wanted to try getting into their organization.

Overall, the Phillies did what they needed to do. They addressed needs and found talent that projects to major league caliber throughout the draft. Not a bad day for a team with no picks through the first two rounds.

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