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Draft pick Dugan set to sign with Phillies today

KELLY DUGAN knows a thing or two about storybook endings. After all, his father - Hollywood director Dennis Dugan - has created a few of them.

Associated Press
Associated PressRead more

KELLY DUGAN knows a thing or two about storybook endings.

After all, his father - Hollywood director Dennis Dugan - has created a few of them.

If all goes well this morning, Kelly will ink his name to a professional contract less than 48 hours after the Phillies selected him with their first pick at No. 75 overall in the amateur draft on Tuesday.

The 18-year-old centerfielder from Sherman Oaks, Calif., is expecting to dot the i's and cross the t's today, joined by some of Hollywood's biggest names - Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, Salma Hayek, David Spade and Kevin James - on the set of his father's latest production, "Grown Ups," which is being filmed in Boston.

Sandler and James - big Yankees and Mets fans, respectively - put their allegiances aside yesterday to don Phillies apparel on the set in Kelly's honor.

"It really is a dream come true," Kelly Dugan told the Daily News. "The Phillies were my No. 1 choice. I loved the people and loved the organization. By taking me with their first pick, they showed some serious interest in me.

"I want to be a Phillie. It is pretty special to become one with all of these people; I have pretty much grown up with Adam [Sandler]. My dad has done a lot of work with him through the years."

Phillies scouting director Marti Wolever confirmed last night that West Coast regional scout Shane Bowers had arrived in Boston and that they expected an early signing.

The Phillies needed nearly a month to nail down a deal with infielder Anthony Hewitt, their first pick in last year's draft.

Dugan's signing marks the end of a wild stretch for the silky-smooth switch-hitter. Only 2 months ago, he wasn't generating much interest at all from scouts.

"It has been pretty crazy," Dugan said. "I really hadn't received a lot of attention, and then the last month or two of the season, I had maybe 15 to 20 scouts at each game. It was a mad rush at the end.

"I feel like maybe I was one of those people to have popped up late."

But Dugan had a feeling about the Phillies.

Maybe it was former general manager Pat Gillick, who went to the same high school - Notre Dame, a Catholic prep school in Southern California - that put him on the Phillies' radar.

"I first met Pat at a workout and he had realized that I went to Notre Dame," Dugan said. "We got along right from the start, and he has been a great help."

The Phillies met with Dugan in April in Los Angeles for a workout. They also were the first to visit him in his home; the Marlins, Yankees, Dodgers, White Sox, Astros and Rays followed suit.

A trip to Citizens Bank Park last week for a final workout - which caused him to miss his high school graduation - sold him.

"It was great. I got to hit a few out," he said. "I loved the atmosphere. I love that it is a sports town.

"I was just hoping for the best," Dugan said about the draft. "I just had this intuition that the Phillies were going to pick me. It was really chaotic, but the Phillies had called me a minute before the pick and asked me if I was in, and I just screamed 'Yes!' I was so excited."

Dugan hit .379 during his senior season, leading the team with 35 RBI, 13 doubles and eight homers in only 95 at-bats.

He previously committed to Pepperdine University in nearby Malibu to continue his baseball career, but will now put those plans on hold. And that's all right by his folks.

"It is so exciting," Dennis Dugan said. "He was all set on going to Pepperdine. He was a dark horse 3 months ago. But he really wants to be a major leaguer. We couldn't be happier."

The Phillies were attracted to Dugan because of his switch-hitting ability and his mental makeup.

"The breaking balls are always going to be coming at him instead of away from him," Wolever said. "He has the chance to hit from both sides with power. He has a great swing with a great approach.

"But his makeup is what separates him. We feel that guys with great makeup tend to achieve what they're supposed to. It was a pretty unanimous decision in our draft room."

Wolever said he thinks that Dugan can be a "20-home-run-type guy" by the time the already 6-3, 205-pounder physically matures.

Scouting tapes show that Dugan has more power from the right side of the plate.

His high school coach, Tom Dill, said Dugan already is more polished than former Notre Dame star and second-round pick Mike Stanton was when he was selected by the Marlins in 2007. Dill helped mentor current major leaguers Chris Dickerson (Cincinnati) and Brendan Ryan (St. Louis) when they were at Notre Dame.

But Dugan knows he has a lot of work to do to hit in Citizens Bank Park again.

"It was fun to get to hit in it once; it was state of the art," he said. "I just hope that someday I can do it again. I'm going to work my hardest to become a better hitter.

"I have a little advantage as a switch-hitter that I didn't really get to use in high school, because I didn't face a lot of lefties . . .

"I'm just excited to get started." *