Asst. scouting GM Wolever won't return to Phillies '15

PHILADELPHIA -- Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. promised significant changes in the offseason, but he started Friday when he announced assistant general manager of amateur scouting Marti Wolever will not return in 2015.

Wolever, who has been running the First-Year Player Draft since 2002, had been with the organization since 1992.

"There's nothing easy about the decision we made, but we're trying to get better and we're trying to make changes," Amaro said following Friday's 5-4 victory over the Braves at Citizens Bank Park. "This is the change that we made. Nothing easy about it. Marti's served our organization very well for a long period of time."

Amaro offered little explanation why Wolever was the first to go.

"We just need to be better, and we're working to get better," Amaro said. "Player development and scouting has always been the backbone of every organization. It's been the backbone of ours for many years. We've had many players playing right now, our core guys, putting us in a position of success every year. They're all homegrown guys. We've got to get back to bringing that caliber of player back to our system. That's our goal."

Wolever could not be reached for comment.

One of the reasons the Phillies slid in the standings in recent seasons is because they have not had enough talent coming through the farm system. They took Cole Hamels with the No. 17 pick in 2002, but since then have produced few impact players or pitchers. Amaro said the Phillies need to improve their drafting philosophy and overall scouting of amateur players.

Recent first-round picks included Greg Golson (2004), Kyle Drabek ('06), Joe Savery ('07), Anthony Hewitt ('08), Jesse Biddle ('10), J.P. Crawford ('13) and Aaron Nola ('14). Supplemental first-round picks included Adrian Cardenas (2006), Travis d'Arnaud ('07), Zach Collier ('08), Larry Greene ('11), Mitch Gueller ('12) and Shane Watson ('12).

There have been more misses than hits, although Wolever's final first-round picks -- Crawford and Nola -- could be his best.

Before this year's Draft, MLB.com examined the Phillies' previous 10 Drafts (2004-13). Forty-six Draft picks reached the big leagues, which tied the A's and Rangers for seventh best in baseball. The average in that span was 41.8 players per organization.

But the quality of the Phillies' picks ranked last. According to baseballreference.com, the combined WAR (Wins Above Replacement) of Phillies picks over the past 10 years was 20.7, which was 24.6 points lower than the 29th ranked Blue Jays (45.3).

The Red Sox (142.7), Braves (133.3), Angels (124.4), Yankees (120.5) and D-backs (120.1) were in the top five. The Phillies, Blue Jays, Mets (49.5), Twins (49.6) and Marlins (51.8) were in the bottom five.

The big league average was 82.7.

"When you pick down low, sometimes your interest changes a little because you have a chance to take a little bit safer pick or take a chance if it hits with a high ceiling," Wolever said in May. "You reach out and you take Golsons and Saverys and you roll the dice on Anthony Hewitt and you hope that you hit based on their tools and their athletic ability. Some do, some don't and some of them haven't -- and we need to do a better job in that regard, but it's based on a lot of factors that come into play."

It should be noted Wolever's drafts produced players like Ryan Howard, Hamels and Ken Giles -- as well as the players who helped the Phillies acquire talents like Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt, Hunter Pence, Brad Lidge and others.

But Wolever also got the Phillies snared in a controversy with the NCAA and two picks the Phillies failed to sign in 2013. Wolever reported those players to the NCAA for violating its "no-agent" rule during negotiations.

"We probably could have handled things a little bit better," Amaro said on 94WIP in March.

Wolever said in May he had no regrets.

"The only regret I have is taking players that had no intent of signing," Wolever said. "That's the only regret I have."

One wonders if Amaro will look next at the player-development staff. Are the organization's shortcomings in the farm system a matter of lackluster Drafts, or lackluster Drafts and poor player development?

"We're evaluating all the time," Amaro said. "I'm being evaluated. Benny [assistant general manager of player personnel Benny Looper] is being evaluated. Everybody in our organization is being evaluated. We decided to make this change because we decided it's the best thing for our organization to move this forward."

One thing seems fairly certain: Wolever's dismissal will not be the only change Amaro makes in the front office.

"We're continuing to evaluate things as we go, but we're looking to improve in a variety of areas," Amaro said. "Obviously this is a very important area and we'll continue to assess things as we go."

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.