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Phillies Sign No. 1 Pick

July 7, 1999

PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ There will be no J.D. Drew fiasco for the Phillies this year.

Brett Myers, a 6-foot-4 right-hander likened by scouts to Curt Schilling, signed a minor league contract with Philadelphia on Wednesday. The 18-year-old from Jacksonville, Fla., got a $2.05 million signing bonus.

``This is a big day,″ said Phillies manager Terry Francona, who stood by helplessly two years ago when negotiations broke down with Drew. ``Other than that, he’s a high school kid. There’s going to be some time before we see him in the big leagues.″

Myers, the 12th overall pick in June’s amateur draft, had 131 strikeouts in 78 innings with an 8-2 record and a 0.80 ERA as a senior at Englewood High School. He will arrive in Philadelphia on Friday to work out before reporting to the Phillies’ rookie league team in Clearwater, Fla., next week.

``We are very pleased to have Brett in the fold,″ said scouting director Mike Arbuckle, who never looks forward to contract negotiations after Drew got away in 1997. ``We look forward to watching his progress. I compare him to Curt Schilling. He’s got a strong, powerful body and is a real competitor on the mound.″

In a flurry of moves, the Phillies also acquired veteran infielder Domingo Cedeno from Seattle for infielder Jose Flores. Cedeno, 30, gives the Phillies depth at shortstop while Desi Relaford recovers from a wrist injury.

To make room for Cedeno on the 25-man roster, right-hander Cliff Politte was optioned to Double-A Reading and Joel Bennett, a soft-throwing right-hander who failed as the Phillies’ No. 5 starter, was designated for assignment. The Phillies have 10 days to trade or release Bennett or send him outright to the minors.

``We hope we get through this process and he accepts his assignment,″ general manager Ed Wade said. ``Baltimore asked waivers on him last year, and he opted for free agency. We’d love to have him back.″

Cedeno, a switch-hitter, was released by Oakland after going to spring training as a non-roster player. He was signed with the Mariners and made 13 starts at shortstop _ while Alex Rodriguez was injured _ and was optioned to Triple-A Tacoma on May 15.

Since Relaford went down with a torn ligament in his right wrist on June 23, Alex Arias has been the Phillies’ starting shortstop with Dave Doster as his backup.

``This doesn’t change Alex or Dave’s role,″ Wade said. ``This gives us some measure of depth.″

On a busy day that saw pitchers Paul Byrd, Schilling and catcher Mike Lieberthal selected for the NL All-Star team, the Phillies could breath easier with the signing of Myers. The Phillies made Drew the second pick in the 1997 draft, but he refused to sign for less than $10 million, became a free agent and ended up with the Cardinals.

The Phillies chose infielder Pat Burrell with the first overall pick in 1998 and signed him to an $8 million, five-year contract that included a $3.15 million signing bonus. Burrell is batting .347 with 15 homers at Double-A this season, and the Phillies are considering moving him to the outfield.

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