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Homegrown Phillies who were drafted by other teams but did not sign

When the sport eventually resumes, the MLB draft will look a lot different than it did pre-pandemic. In 2020, the draft was shortened to just five rounds, down from the usual 40 rounds. The draft lasted 20 rounds in 2021 and according to the Associated Press the MLBPA proposed to permanently cut the draft to 20 rounds. MLB has reportedly accepted that request.

Aaron Nola was originally drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays out of high school. (Photo by Cody Glenn/Icon Sportswire)

One of the unintended consequences of a 20-round draft — and there are plenty — is that fewer players will be drafted multiple times. In baseball, U.S. and Canadian residents can re-enter the draft after they graduate high school. If the player chooses to attend a four-year college, they can enter the draft after either three years at school or following their 21st birthday, whichever comes first. Players that currently attend a junior or community college are eligible for the draft at any time. Once a player signs a major or minor league contract, they are no longer eligible for the draft.

A sizable number of players are drafted out of high school in the later rounds and choose to forgo signing with a big league club in favor of attending school to both receive an education and possibly cash in on a productive college career in the form of a higher signing bonus.

In 1995, Pat Burrell was drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the 43rd round out of Bellarmine College Preparatory School in San Jose, Calif. Burrell attended the University of Miami instead of signing with Boston. Three years later, Burrell was selected first overall by the Phillies in the 1998 draft.

While none of these players became No. 1 overall picks, a few current Phillies took a similar career path. Here are a few notable Phillies and the teams that drafted, but didn’t sign them.

Aaron Nola: Toronto Blue Jays (22nd round in 2011)

Aaron Nola had quite the decision to make coming out of high school: The Toronto Blue Jays selected both him and his older brother Austin in the 2011 draft. Aaron verbally committed to his hometown school of Louisiana State University while Austin, who currently plays for the San Diego Padres, was about to enter his senior year at LSU. According to Aaron, rejecting the offer from Toronto was an easy decision.

“I think I would have had to go pretty high, but after seeing Austin turn down offers twice to make a career at LSU, that’s what I wanted to do,” Aaron told MLB Trade Rumors in 2014. “I also wasn’t ready to make that next step from high school to pro ball and Austin has zero regrets about going to college. So, I’m glad I made the decision to go to LSU. I feel like I’ve become a better person and a better player. I’m stronger, both physically and mentally.”

Aaron went on to dominate the SEC and parlay that into a top-ten selection in 2014 and a $3.3 million signing bonus with the Phillies. Not bad.

Matt Vierling: St. Louis Cardinals (30th round in 2015)

Getting drafted by the team you grew up rooting for is thrilling for any young ballplayer, so it must have been tough for Matt Vierling, a St. Louis native, to turn down an offer from the Cardinals in favor of playing college baseball at Notre Dame. After struggling in the Cape Cod League the prior summer, Vierling fell to the fifth round in the 2018 draft. The Phillies were high on Vierling’s potential to move quickly through the minor league system at the time. Four years later, Vierling could compete for a key role on the 2022 Phillies.

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Connor Brogdon: Atlanta Braves (40th round in 2013) and Nick Maton: Oakland Athletics (40th round in 2015)

There’s a reason why there’s no such thing as Mr. Irrelevant in MLB: Many players selected in the final round of the draft tend to honor their college commitments and roll the dice a few years later. If you look closely at the Phillies’ late-late round selections over the last dozen or so seasons, you’ll see some last names that sound familiar.

Brogdon was drafted in the 10th round in 2017 by the Phillies as a senior out of Lewis-Clark State College in Lewiston, Idaho while Maton was taken three rounds earlier out of Lincoln Land Community College in Springfield, Ill. Both appear to be solid late-round finds by the Phillies.

Kyle Gibson: Philadelphia Phillies (36th round in 2006)

It would be wrong not to highlight current Phillies starter Kyle Gibson, who was originally drafted by the team but did not sign.

The 2006 Phillies draft was wild. The Phillies had two compensatory first-round picks after losing Billy Wagner to the Mets in free agency. One of those picks was Kyle Drabek, who was a key prospect featured in the Roy Halladay trade. Adrian Cárdenas, the Phillies’ supplemental first-round pick, went to the A’s in the Joe Blanton trade. The Phillies’ original first-round pick went to the Yankees, who picked Ian Kennedy. New York received that pick for the Phillies signing Tom Gordon. Not to mention, current Phillies farm director Preston Mattingly was drafted in the supplemental first round by the Dodgers that season.

Anyway, the Phillies drafted all of these players in 2006: Former Eagles wide receiver Riley Cooper (15th round), Dominic Brown (20th round) and Gibson (36th round). 2021 actually marked the second consecutive year the Phillies traded for a pitcher they drafted and did not sign. Brandon Workman was selected a year later in 2007 by the Phillies in the third round, but did not sign.


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