By Phil Anastasia

Inquirer Staff Writer

Tyler Phillips was downstairs in his house in Lumberton, playing Xbox.

He wasn't even paying attention to the Major League Baseball draft.

"I was just trying to relax," Phillips said.

One telephone call ended that.

Phillips, a senior at Bishop Eustace Prep, received word on Thursday that he had been selected by the Texas Rangers in the 16th round.

"It hit me hard," Phillips said. "The guy (Rangers scout) said, 'You watching the draft?'

"I told him I wasn't. He said, 'C'mon, Ty. We just picked you.'"

Phillips said he "was expecting" to get selected on Wednesday, when rounds 3-10 were held.

Phillips had flown to Texas on Friday and worked out in front of Rangers' executives. He left there thinking he might be picked by team somewhere between the fifth and eighth round.

"It didn't bother me that much," Phillips said of not being selected on Wednesday. "But it bothered my parents a lot. They took it personal. I figured it was just business. My dad was pulling his hair out."

The 6-foot-5 Phillips was 9-0 this season with a 1.02 ERA for Bishop Eustace, which finished as the No. 1 team in South Jersey in The Inquirer rankings.

Phillips said he "would like to sign" with the Rangers. He said he would handle negotiations himself with help from his parents, Dan and Roseanna.

Phillips said he likel would begin talks with the Rangers on Friday.

Phillips' signing will be a tricky process that will depend on the Rangers' creativity as well as perhaps his willingness to accept less than he would have received as a selection in the top 10 rounds.

Players selected in the top 10 rounds usually sign for around the amount alloted to their slot by MLB.

Teams have a remaining pool of money to sign players selected after the 10th round but they can add to that pool by paying less than slot value to players selected in the first 10 rounds.

Phillips said if he doesn't sign he likely will honor his committment to attend Manatee Community College in Bradenton, Fla., with hopes of being drafted again in the future.

But Phillips indicated that he would prefer to sign and start his professional career.

"I have other options but I would like to sign," Phillips said. "People ask me what I want to do. I tell them, 'I want to play professional baseball.'"

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