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Phillies look for better luck with Burrell
Posted: Wednesday June 2, 1998 01:04 PM
PHILADELPHIA (CNN/SI) -- The Philadelphia Phillies no longer hold J.D. Drew's draft rights, but the controversial outfielder just won't go away.
Chosen by the Phillies with the second overall pick last year, Drew refused to sign with Philadelphia, demanding $10 million guaranteed -- $6 million more than the team's final offer.
St. Louis, obviously aware of Drew's demands, selected him with the fifth pick. Burrell clearly will be watching Drew's negotiations.
"I think at this point, it's very premature to speculate," Phillies scouting director Mike Arbuckle said. Jeff Moorad, Burrell's agent, did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
But Arbuckle acknowledged the Phillies would like to get Burrell under contract as soon as possible.
"If we wait for St. Louis, that will really slow the process down," Arbuckle said. "We view [Drew] as a unique situation. Obviously we did or that player would have signed."
Last year's No. 1 pick, Matt Anderson got a $2,505,000 bonus to sign with the Detroit Tigers.
The Phillies believe Burrell, a right-handed hitter from the University of Miami, is signable, said Arbuckle.
"Based on recent history, no one will jump up and sign right away," Arbuckle said. "It becomes a logjam until two or three players sign to break it. It might take the better part of the summer, but we feel it will get done."
Burrell learned of his selection before Miami played Long Beach State in a College World Series elimination game in Omaha, Nebraska.
"I'm very happy to become a Philadelphia Phillie," he said. "I'm thrilled to have been selected. It is an honor to be the first pick overall, and I look forward to playing professional baseball."
A third baseman at Miami, Burrell may switch to first because the Phillies already have a third baseman: 23-year-old Scott Rolen, last year's NL Rookie of the Year.
No problem, according to Burrell.
"I've had experience with that position before, and it's something I'm comfortable with," he said.
The Phillies are more concerned with getting Burrell's bat in their lineup than where he'll play in the field.
Rated the best hitter and best power hitter in college ball by Baseball America, Burrell has a career slugging percentage of .888, second on the NCAA's career list behind former-Phillie Pete Incaviglia's .915.
The 6-4, 21-year-old has a batting average of .442, seventh on the NCAA list, and 60 homers in three seasons at Miami.
Burrell has "abundant and impressive raw power with remarkable bat speed that generates consistent power to all fields," according to a report by Phillies scout Miguel Machado.
The Phillies hit a major league-low 116 homers last year. Only Minnesota, Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh had fewer homers than the Phillies' 45 going into Tuesday night.
"Obviously, he's a player who's a middle-of-the-lineup type of guy," Arbuckle said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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