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Phillies hustle to grab shortstop in first round of baseball draft

ON A day when shortstop and reigning MVP Jimmy Rollins was benched for lack of hustle, the Phillies used their first-round pick on . . . drum roll, please . . . a shortstop.

ON A day when shortstop and reigning MVP Jimmy Rollins was benched for lack of hustle, the Phillies used their first-round pick on . . . drum roll, please . . . a shortstop.

What in the name of Kevin Kolb is going on around here?

"It's just a coincidence," Phillies scouting director Marti Wolever said, laughing.

The Phillies spent their first-round pick yesterday - 24th overall - on Connecticut high-school star Anthony Hewitt, a shortstop they will move to third base. Hewitt, who turned 19 in April, has a scholarship to Vanderbilt and said earlier this week that he would have to receive a significant offer to turn down college.

Yesterday, his tone was not nearly so ominous.

"I really want to go ahead and pursue my professional career," said Hewitt, who was born in Brooklyn and grew up a Yankees fan. "I want to go out and start professional ball as soon as possible. I'm eager to start. I'm eager."

The Rangers had the 24th overall pick last year and gave Michael Main, a Florida high-school pitcher, a $1.23 million signing bonus.

Hewitt is a 6-1, 195-pound righthanded hitter. He hit .536 with eight home runs in 56 at-bats.

The Phillies worked out Hewitt several times in the days leading up to the draft and even asked him to take some cuts lefthanded to get a different perspective of his athleticism. "That was weird," he said.

Hewitt visited Citizens Bank Park on Monday and opened eyes with a couple shots over the wall and in the field. He got to meet Chase Utley, who he called "a cool guy."

"When I came to the ballpark it was a blast," he said. "I thought, 'I could see myself here.' "

And the Phillies see him manning third base, a position that has been occupied by three players in 3 years (David Bell, Abraham Nunez and Pedro Feliz, with Greg Dobbs and Wes Helms seeing significant time).

"If he plays third base, he's got a chance to be a plus-home-run guy and an average-type hitter," Wolever said. "Defensively, he's got an average arm . . . We think he's got tremendous power and in this park, that could really play well for him and us."

This year's draft is the Phillies' most important in years. With six picks in the first 110 selections and seven in the first four rounds, the Phillies have a real opportunity to bolster their minor league rosters - as well as gather some bargaining chips for next month's trade deadline.

The Phillies had three compensatory picks, including the 34th overall choice, that they received when free agent Aaron Rowand signed with San Francisco.

With the 34th pick, they selected Zach Collier, 17, an outfielder from Chino Hills High School in California.

Collier, who hit .450 as a senior, had open-heart surgery in 2006.

"He's a lefthanded hitter with a straight-up approach," Wolever described. "I think he'll end up in one of the corners of the outfield, but could play center in a pinch."

Wolever said Collier reminds him of the Angels' Garret Anderson, a former star now in the twilight of a brilliant career.

"This is why you scout," Wolever said. "These are the kind of players you want in an organization. When these guys hit - and not all of them do - but when they hit, you're not talking about an average major leaguer, you're talking about a well-above average player and to me, that's what you win championships with."


Devaris Strange-Gordon

, son of Phillies reliever

Tom Gordon

, was taken in the fourth round by the Dodgers, 127th overall ...

Cutter Dykstra



son and an outfielder for Westlake (Calif.) High School, was taken by the Brewers in the second round, 54th overall . . . University of Delaware shortstop

Alex Buchholz

went to Cincinnati in the sixth round (179th) . . . Unionville High School outfielder

Peter Hissey

was selected by the Red Sox with the final pick of the fourth round (142nd) . . .

Howie Long's



, was not selected yesterday. Kyle Long, a 6-8 Virginia high school pitcher, should be taken some time today. Howie Long, who played at Villanova and is a Pro Football Hall of Famer, watched son

Chris Long

taken with the second overall pick in April's NFL draft. *