A first-round talent in Monday night's baseball draft could be climbing the minor-league ladder right now at one of the Phillies' farm-system affiliates.
Instead, Brandon Workman pitched a shutout for the University of Texas against Rider in an NCAA sub-regional Friday night in Austin, Texas.
Money is the reason.
After selecting Workman in the third round of the 2007 draft, the Phillies knew that the 6-foot-5, 220-pound righthander could be difficult to sign. Workman, born and raised in Bowie, Texas, had a scholarship to play for the University of Texas, and the Longhorns are an enticing option, especially for kids who grew up bleeding burnt orange.
The Phillies did what they do with all difficult signings. They watched Workman pitch through the summer months and came to the conclusion that he wasn't worth the money he was seeking. According to Baseball America, the Phillies offered a $275,000 signing bonus and Workman wanted $350,000.
"It's hard to lose a kid, but I know we did our homework after we took him," Phillies scouting director Marti Wolever said. "We went and saw him pitch and . . . he didn't pitch very well that summer. We had to make a decision of where we were going to spend that money, and Julian Sampson at that time was going upward and Brandon, unfortunately, was going the other direction."
Sampson, also a righthanded pitcher, was a 12th-round pick out of a high school in Washington state, and the Phillies, according to Baseball America, paid him $390,000 after getting a thumbs-up from a scouting report submitted by Pat Gillick, then the general manager. Sampson went 11-4 in his first professional season at single-A Lakewood, but his ERA - 4.33 - and hits-to-innings-pitched ratio - 152 in 135 - were a red flag. Last season, he fell on his face at single-A Clearwater, going 3-9 with a 7.36 ERA, and he opened this season in extended spring training.
Workman, meanwhile, has pitched well enough at Texas to become a projected first-round draft choice. That means he will get millions when he signs his big-league deal.
"I was really excited about getting drafted by Philadelphia," Workman said last week after a Texas practice. "I was kind of anxious. I wanted to sign. When we weren't able to work it out, it was a little bit of a downer for me."
Workman, 12-1 with a 3.43 ERA this season for the Longhorns, has long since recovered.
"It wasn't like my second option [going to Texas] was a terrible thing," he said. "We played for a national championship last season, and we're looking to do it again this year. Everything worked out well for me. I had a chance to develop further as a pitcher, and financially it was a good decision as well."
Workman also pitched a no-hitter against Penn State during his sophomore season.
The Phillies have the 27th pick in the first round Monday, and most draft projections have Workman being selected in the middle of the first round - possibly 15th by his hometown Texas Rangers. A more likely first-round pick for the Phillies could be Austin Wilson, a high school outfielder from Southern California who has a scholarship to Stanford.
General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. has visited Wilson, and Wolever described the Phillies as having "significant interest."
"I think the signability is going to be an issue, but I don't know if that would scare us away from not taking a player," Wolever said. "I still think you have to take the best player, unless the demands far exceed what you're willing to pay."
Despite their inability to get a deal done with Workman three years ago, the Phillies haven't stopped scouting the righthander. Wolever, in fact, had a conversation with Dennis Workman, the pitcher's father.
"I talked to his dad and I said, 'Hey, if you're ticked off at me or the organization, we need to talk about that, because we like your son still and we have interest,' " Wolever said. "We had a great conversation, and they're not upset. He's growing up, and he pitched better. I think the door is still open if we want to walk through it."
Workman said he hopes he is gone by the time the 27th pick comes around, but only because he anticipates being selected higher.
"That would be fine by me," he said. "That would be great."