Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Jordan was first to acquire Lee

When someone new joins the Phillies, it's always interesting to see if they have any link to the people already in the organization.

Jordan was first to acquire Lee

This will be Cliff Lee´s second full season with the Phillies. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)
This will be Cliff Lee's second full season with the Phillies. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)

When someone new joins the Phillies, it's always interesting to see if they have any link to the people already in the organization.

Joe Jordan, the Phillies' first-year director of player development, has a truly interesting connection. It turns out Jordan was the area scout who signed Phillies lefthander Cliff Lee after the Montreal Expos selected him in the fourth round of the 2000 draft.

"It was my last year as an area scout," Jordan said.

He was promoted to Midwest supervisor the following year. Jordan, 49, doesn't take too much credit for discovering Lee, and he remembers a far less polished pitcher at the University of Arkansas than the guy you see pitching for the Phillies these days.

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"If you go back and look at his numbers his junior year, they weren't very impressive," Jordan said. "Look at his walks. He did not have a cutter then. He threw a curveball. But the one thing you could see even then was the way he competed."

Lee pitched only one season at Arkansas and was 4-3 with a 4.45 ERA. He walked 52 batters and struck out 77 in 64 2/3 innings.

"That's why he was a fourth-round pick rather than a first-rounder," Jordan said.

Given all that Lee has accomplished at the big-league level, it was obviously a sensational pick even though Lee never actually pitched for the Expos. In 2002, Lee was traded to Cleveland in the kind of six-player deal you rarely see any more. The Indians received Lee, Brandon Phillips, Grady Sizemore and Lee Stevens for Bartolo Colon and Tim Drew.

The Phillies actually drafted one of Lee's Arkansas teammates - right-handed pitcher Matt Riethmaier - one round after the Expos selected Lee. Riethmaier never pitched above Single-A Lakewood and was out of professional baseball by 2002.



Bob Brookover Inquirer Columnist
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