The work begins after Kelly Dugan, the Phillies' top draft pick, reports to the Gulf Coast (Rookie) League Phillies in Clearwater, Fla.
That's not until Wednesday, though. Before that, the 75th overall selection in last week's talent auction was treated to a dazzling glimpse of what he and the Phillies hope his future holds. He took in Saturday night's sold-out game against the Red Sox at Citizens Bank Park, hung out at the batting cage and was introduced to the media yesterday morning.
"I'm just extremely ecstatic to be here," said the personable 18-year-old from Sherman Oaks, Calif. "Really proud to be a part of the world-champion Phillies. It's a great atmosphere. The fans are really passionate about their team. They really love the club and they know everything about the players. I'm just excited to be a part of it and hope I can make everybody proud to be part of this team."
Dugan's poise probably isn't surprising. His father, Dennis, is a Hollywood director who has made several movies with Adam Sandler. He's currently filming "Grown Ups" in Boston with a cast that includes Sandler, Chris Rock, Salma Hayek, David Spade and Kevin James.
Along with his parents, several friends were on hand yesterday, including actor Richard Kline, who played Jack Tripper's sleazy next-door neighbor, Larry Dallas, on "Three's Company."
"It was really cool growing up with them. They're [air quotes] big-league actors [air quotes], you know. Their dedication to comedy is similar to the dedication baseball players have," Kelly Dugan said. "So just growing up around professionals like that, the work ethic they have and the dedication to their field, was great. They've all been real supportive."
Dugan agreed to sign almost immediately despite a scholarship offer from Pepperdine. The slot for his draft position this year was $485,100. It's believed the Phillies gave him about $490,000 plus the college package teams offer high school players who opt to turn pro in case they eventually decide to pursue their studies.
Phillies assistant general manager Benny Looper said it was as much the switch-hitting centerfielder's intangibles as his baseball skills that sold him.
"There were several things that impressed me. And a lot of it was not what I saw but what I know from other people. His personality. His work ethic," Looper said. "What we were able to see was the tools that we look for."
He also has a sense of humor. A series of weather and mechanical problems plagued his attempts to fly into Philadelphia from Boston Saturday. "I hope my career isn't that rocky," he said with a laugh. *