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Phillies go on the offensive in the Draft

PHILADELPHIA -- Citing a lack of offensive depth in this year's Draft class, Phillies assistant general manager Marti Wolever wanted to get position players early. And that's exactly what the Phils did.

Highlighted by shortstop J.P. Crawford, who went in the first round, the Phillies used their first five selections on offensive players in the First-Year Player Draft. Philadelphia finally took a pitcher in the sixth round when it picked left-hander Ben Holmes out of Oregon State.

"It was fairly deep on the pitching board and not so deep on the offensive board," Wolever said. "So we tried to really focus on [offense] early and get what we could and go from there. It just fell into place for us, and we felt really good about it."

After not having a first-round pick last year, the Phillies used the 16th overall pick to scoop up Crawford, a Lakewood High School product from California. The shortstop position for the Phils has long been in the clutches of Jimmy Rollins, but Crawford -- who is listed at 6-foot-2 and 180 pounds and is the cousin of Dodgers outfielder Carl Crawford -- said maybe he could fill the shoes of the former National League MVP Award winner down the road.

"It means a lot, especially coming from Jimmy Rollins down to me," Crawford, 18, said on MLB Network on Thursday. "Hopefully, I can learn something from him and take his place."

The Phillies did not pick as high in the Draft last year, but they also took a player from Lakewood High School. Shane Watson, who has been friends with Crawford since childhood, was picked by the Philadelphia (40th overall) last year, and the team also picked another Lakewood product in 2007 in Travis d'Arnaud.

Following the selection of Crawford, the Phillies took college catcher Andrew Knapp 53rd overall and high-school outfielder Cord Sandberg with the 89th pick. Sandberg has no relation to Phils third-base coach Ryne Sandberg, but he has a lot of upside.

Scouts view Sandberg as a five-tool player, but that athleticism also translates well on the football field, where the Florida native also has also been recruited by Mississippi State to play football. The uncertainty of whether Sandberg will head to the gridiron may have been the reason why he did not go until the third round. The Phillies, however, were willing to take the chance.

"I think he slipped a little bit because of that, but I don't think he had a great senior season," Wolever said. "I thought it was all right. The last tournament where they bring a lot of the seniors together, he did OK, but nothing spectacular. So if you combine all that, it kind of leads you to where we were at the Draft."

Despite the abundance of position players early, the Phillies used 23 of their 41 Draft picks on pitchers. Twenty of those arms were chosen on Day 3 of the Draft by Philadelphia, the first two being Denton Keys and Griffin Jax, both of whom are high-school players from Colorado.

The Phils also drafted one very notable baseball name in 29th-round pick Cavan Biggio, the son of former Astros infielder Craig Biggio.

In the Pipeline
Jesse Biddle -- the Phillies' top prospect, according to, and their 2010 first-round Draft pick -- made his 12th start of the season for Double-A Reading on Saturday.

Biddle struck out seven batters and allowed only one run on four hits in seven innings; however, he received no offensive support and was saddled with the loss. The 21-year-old has a 3.03 ERA to go along with 79 strikeouts and 33 walks in 68 1/3 innings.

The left-hander said he is beginning to feel more comfortable at the Double-A level.

"I'm starting to think on the mound more clearly about what I want to do, not so much hesitation," said Biddle, a Philadelphia native. "I'm starting to feel healthier. I know I can compete at this level, but I am starting to feel like I can really do some damage."

Stephen Pianovich is an associate reporter for
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