It appears that the Phillies decision to report Oregon State pitching prospect Ben Wetzler to the NCAA for inappropriate contact with an agent is pushing the MLBPA to look closer at the team's operations, according to reports out of Philadelphia on Wednesday.
The controversial move by the organization, the first such instance since the early 90s, appears to have drawn the ire of the most powerful union in the country. Though executive director of the union, Tony Clark, hasn't been direct with what exactly would happen to the team from the union's perspective. And what exactly could be done isn't entirely clear.
"We are paying attention", Clark told reporters. "Yes, we are concerned. Based on what it is we find out will determine what, if anything, lends itself to further discussion. But yes we are concerned enough to be inquiring about what happened."
The much larger concern for the Phillies, however, might be the response of the amateur baseball community. It appears that the scouting community that serves as a major source of information for major league clubs is reportedly not particularly happy with the team at the moment. Like the union, however, it's not entirely clear what -- if anything -- can or will be done to the team that was actually following the rules as written.
The team, to their credit, seem perfectly content with their decision to snitch on the young left-hander. That it violated what had theretofore been an unwritten understanding between MLB, the NCAA and agents -- which are technically restricted to be "advisors" to potential signees, and not permitted to negotiate directly with teams -- didn't stop the Phillies from issuing a short, and not entirely sweet, proclamation regarding their involvement in the investigation.
"The Phillies did participate in the NCAA investigation and a ruling has been issued. We believe it is inappropriate to comment further on either the negotiation with the player or the action taken by the NCAA,"said the team in a press release filled with the whimsical charm that the City of Brotherly Love is known for.
Ultimately, it appears that unless the appeal for his 11-game suspension goes through, the only person that will actually be directly affected by the investigation in discernible way will be the one who has the most to lose, Wetzler. Hopefully the MLBPA can do a better job of protecting him once he's actually in the union, but for now, his immediate future in the hands of the NCAA.