© 2007 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Four players received a chance to fulfill their dreams of playing Major League Baseball this weekend, signing Minor League contracts with the Phillies.
The quartet were selected from a field of 74 who participated in a tryout camp for players from independent baseball leagues, the first of its kind for the Phillies.
All four were pitchers: lefties Jake Ociesa and Cory Willey and righties Mike McTamney and Jason Wylie.
Ociesa, 23, reached 93 mph on the radar gun and showed an 84-mph breaking ball. He played at Mississippi State and Murray State. McTamney, from Toms River, N.J., was the first pitcher to throw in the two-day event.
Willey displayed a good cutter and maintained his velocity over the two days. He threw both days of camp. Wylie, a 25-year-old former Red from Salt Lake City, showed a low 90s fastball.
All four will report to the Carpenter Complex Thursday with the rest of the Phillies' Minor Leaguers.
"You get four guys out of there, why not?" said Mike Arbuckle, the team's assistant general manager of scouting and player development. "We'll bring them into camp and let them compete. We saw some live arms, and good velocity."
Justin Drabek, 20, the older brother of 2006 First-Year Player Draft first-rounder, Kyle, and son of former Major Leaguer, Doug, didn't make the cut, despite trying out on both days.
"We have better guys in our system," Arbuckle said. "You look at these guys and say do we have better. We just felt as a group that we have better guys."
The tryout camp was run by Mal Fichman, a former Padres scout and independent league manager.
Drabek will start Wednesday night's exhibition against Florida State, the first of seven pitchers to face the 12-0 Seminoles.
It's a glimpse of how the right-hander might have fared if he has chosen school. The 19-year-old Drabek would be a freshman had he chosen to attend college.
"I see a good fastball and a good breaking ball," said manager Charlie Manuel. "It looks like he's working on a changeup. He's got a lot of talent. I think it will be fun for him."
It will likely be Drabek's only higher profile appearance of the spring, as he'll likely be sent to the Minor League complex on March 2, when camp opens.
Drabek likely will start the season at Class-A Lakewood.
Utley fights for the environment:
Chase Utley's next goal -- after a winning a World Series -- is to make the world a cleaner place.
The All-Star second baseman was affected after seeing Al Gore's movie, "An Inconvenient Truth," and has become an advocate for stopping global warming. He joined an online movement to spread the word.
"Until I saw the movie, I never paid attention to it," Utley said. "It opened my eyes. We're not heading in the right direction as far as helping the environment. I'm trying to find ways to help, and trying to get people more aware. One person can't change it. I just hope to educate people a little bit."
News and features:
Spring Training info:
Coste wants to stay in Philly: 350K
Howard on final week of camp: 350K
Florida coach Meyer visits Phils: 350K
Hamels on his recent Minors start: 350K
Gordon talks about getting a ring: 350K
Utley joined a growing list of celebrities and published his thoughts online at www.stopglobalwarming.org. Other concerned celebrities include the Barenaked Ladies, Blue Man Group, Christie Brinkley, Gen. Wesley Clark, Gov. Edward G. Rendell, Huey Lewis, James Taylor, Leonardo DiCaprio, Sheryl Crow, Larry David, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. Hillary Clinton.
For his part, Utley said he plans to buy a hybrid car that would get profoundly better gas mileage than the trucks owned by teammates Jon Lieber and Aaron Rowand. Lieber's custom-built Ford F-650 gets 12 miles per gallon.
"I don't think we're really on the same page," Utley said. "Maybe I'll show them the movie."
Utley plans to watch another film, "Who Killed The Electric Car?" a documentary that explores the birth, limited commercialization and eventual death of the battery electric vehicle in the U.S., specifically the General Motors EV1 of the 1990s. The film explains the role of car manufacturers, the oil industry, the U.S. government and consumers in squashing the development of the technology.
No time off:
Manuel joked that reigning National League Most Valuable Player Ryan Howard shouldn't expect to miss too many road trips this spring.
"He didn't miss [spring road trips] last year [after being named NL Rookie of the Year] and won the MVP," Manuel said, smiling.
"That's cold," Howard said.
"Hopefully, he can get into another fight, at the same time of year." Manuel
, on the chance Karim Garcia could get into a fight similar to the bullpen brawl with a Red Sox groundskeeper at the 2003 ALCS. Garcia was with the Yankees at the time.
Manuel continues to be impressed by veteran righty Antonio Alfonseca, who threw for the third time this spring. ... Lefty Eude Brito continues to throw long toss, but has yet to pitch off a mound. He's waiting for medical clearance after injuring his neck and left shoulder in a car accident on Dec. 19. ... The Phillies have scheduled a "B" game against the Blue Jays at Bright House Networks Field for March 5 at 10 a.m. ET. ... Philadelphia and Cleveland will use the DH for their March 2 game. ... Utley, Howard and Jimmy Rollins are scheduled to tape an All-Star Game television spot for FOX on Wednesday afternoon in Clearwater.