Philadelphia Phillies Were Right To Blow Whistle On NCAA Pitcher Ben Wetzler
When the Philadelphia Phillies called out Oregon State pitcher Ben Wetzler for having an agent and returning to the NCAA after the team drafted him, it caused a backlash.
The team was blasted for “snitching” even though what Wetzler and other NCAA players are doing in having an agent and then returning to play in college is clearly in violation of NCAA rules. Here’s a thought: what if said agent led the Phillies on to say that if they drafted him, the kid would definitely sign? Say the Phillies took that word as gospel and then wasted their fifth-round draft pick on Wetzler in the June 2013 draft?
I’m not saying that happened and neither are the Phillies, but their ‘no comment’ approach is making that pretty clear. If the agent told the Phillies, “hey, don’t draft Ben, he’s not coming out”, then the Phillies would look elsewhere for a player to fill the spot, and there have been some pretty good players drafted in the fifth round before.
It’s a shaky business drafting an underclassman who still has eligibility left, and if the kid will only permit his agent to talk to the team, he has to give the agent some parameters to negotiate with so that the team would bargain in good faith. Whatever you feel about the NCAA and its rules or whether players should be paid or not, these are the rules the players have agreed to play under. If the NCAA has these rules, they should be enforced.
Philadelphians have a similar situation close to home they can relate to. In 1986, Temple football RB Paul Palmer signed with an agent before the start of his senior season. Upon finding that out, the university voluntarily forfeited all six of its football wins that year, even though the NCAA probably would not have done so and slapped the school with a lesser penalty. In that case, there were consequences in breaking a rule.
There has to be consequences for breaking this one as well, and the Phillies are the victims, not Wetzler.