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Cheapskates! Cheapskates?: Phillies draft news

The Phillies made a couple of moves over the weekend, most of them fairly surprising.

JP didn't make us wait and worry.
JP didn't make us wait and worry.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Over the weekend, at 11:59 PM on July 15 to be specific, the signing period for Rule Four draftees passed. The Phillies along with every other team in baseball had to have had all of their players signed by then, or else not at all. There were some (possibly planned) tragedies, as the Jays did not sign their first round pick in right handed pitcher Phillip Bickford. The Marlins also were unable to sign their competitive balance pick -- prep left hander Matt Krook -- as well as their third round pick, shortstop Ben Deluzio. That's not so great.

But those picks, as they fell within the first three rounds, were protected, which means that the Marlins and the Jays will get picks back in the 2014 draft, just one slot lower. Not the best outcome, but not terrible. This is in contrast to our very own Phillies, who failed to sign two players in their top ten: Ben Wetzler-Holmes, their fifth round pick and a left handed pitcher from Oregon State, and Jason Monda, their sixth round pick and an outfielder from Washington State. The Phillies will receive no compensation from MLB for the inability to sign these draftees. There are colloquial reasons for their not signing -- Monda seems a bit mercurial; Wetzler-Holmes was taken in by the bright lights of the College World Series -- but the motive, in the end, doesn't matter. The Phillies' oft-maligned system loses two pieces.

On the positive side, however, the Phillies were able to sign high school RHP Tyler Viza for $160,000 (60,000 dollars over slot), and high school OF Venn Biter (!!!!!) for a heretofore undisclosed bonus. You may remember Venn from his dystopic adventures in simulated reality (the first result for a google search of "Venn Biter" by the way; even before his twitter). Viza pitched to a 1.48 ERA in his senior year, with deeply middling strikeout rates (41 in 80.1 IP), but I'm not sure what numbers like that even mean for high schoolers. Biter seems like a toolsy outfielder, and here's an article that gives some numbers on him. We know one thing for sure, though: he has a plus-plus name.

The Phillies also broke the bank on 11th round highschool LHP Denton Keys, giving him a $350,000 bonus, 250,000 dollars over slot. If you trust the math of bradindc on our own Mattwinks' PhuturePhillies, this aggressive bonus, along with some others, put the Phils over the Selig ruled cap, and carries a penalty tax of $36,750. Frankly, Keys should be worth it: according to this article from, Keys threw four no hitters this past spring, and struck out 115 hitters in 45.2 innings. To put this another way, dude only needed to put the ball in play for 22 of his 137 outs. This may have something to do with his .15 ERA. No typo. Sure, it's HS stats, so who knows? But jeez.

And there are other dominoes that will likely fall. Joey Martarano, gigantic 3B/LB who was going to split time between the Phillies and the Boise St. Broncos, has not officially signed, despite rumors about his commitment to do the football/baseball split. And maybe some other contracts are working their way through confusing patches to completion. Still, lots of good new talent, but also some missed opportunities. I'm not sure how to read all of this -- some of the commenters on PhuturePhillies seem committed to the idea that the Phillies' inability to sign Holmes and Monda speaks to an organizational cheapness. Going overslot on Keys, Viza, and Biter (not to mention Jan Hernandez and Cord Sandberg) seems to suggest otherwise.

I'm tempted to believe the latter -- Monda and Holmes weren't worldbeaters, and while it's a drag to lose them, it's encouraging to see the Phillies spend to get young kids they really like. But what do y'all think? Also: please come up with some good Venn Biter fanclub names.