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Thrilled To Be A Phil

June 7, 2005
By Jim Salisbury

Mike Costanzo grew up rooting for the greatest third baseman in Phillies history.

He hopes to be the next great one.

The Phillies selected the Coastal Carolina slugger in the second round. The Phils had forfeited their first-round pick to the Yankees for signing pitcher Jon Lieber.

Hearing his name called by the Phillies was a dream come true for Costanzo, who grew up just a 25-minute drive from Citizens Bank Park, in Delaware County, Pa.

"You have no idea how big of a Phillies fan I am. I was a huge Mike Schmidt fan," he gushed. "I'm an enormous Phillies fan. When we got the news, our whole house erupted. It was mayhem. It was nuts."

During an introductory news conference at the ballpark Tuesday, Costanzo, 21, pulled a tiny red Phillies jacket out of his pocket.

"I wore this home from the hospital when I was born," he said with a big smile.

Costanzo's father, Mike Sr., has his office a few blocks from the stadium and his company has season tickets.

Baseball America had Costanzo rated as the 123rd best prospect in the draft, and some projections had him going in the third round.

Phils scouting director Marti Wolever believes Costanzo, a two-time Big South player of the year, is better than that.

"There was an outside chance he'd be available in the third round," Wolever said. "But when you like what you see, you go get it, and that's what we did.

"We had four boards going and we felt he was the best guy available."

In addition to third, Costanzo played some first base and did some pitching in college.

"He's staying at third," Wolever said. "He's patient at the plate. He has a chance to have above-average power and be a third baseman of quality."

Asked to describe himself as a player, the 6-3, 215-pound Costanzo was succinct.

"I'm a lefthanded power hitter," he said.

Costanzo hit .379-16-67 for Coastal Carolina this season. He had success with a wood bat in the Cape Cod League last summer, hitting .256 with eight homers. He tied for the league lead with 30 RBIs.

Costanzo is eager to get his pro career started, so signing won't be a problem.

"I can't wait to play for the Phillies," he said. "Hopefully I'll be signed by tomorrow. I'm not pulling a J.D. Drew. I'm not doing that to this team or this city."

Costanzo is slated to open at short-season Batavia in the New York-Penn League.

After Costanzo, the Phils took lefthanded pitcher Matt Maloney (Mississippi) in the third round. The also took college pitchers Brett Harker (College of Charleston) and Justin Blaine (San Diego) in the fifth and sixth rounds.

The Phils took two high school players in the upper rounds. They tabbed third baseman/first baseman Michael Durant from Berkeley (Calif.) HS in the fourth round. Durant, a 6-5, 230-pounder, is a friend of shortstop Jimmy Rollins with excellent power potential. Wolever compared him to a righthanded Ryan Howard.

In the seventh round, the Phils took outfielder Jermaine Williams out of Los Angeles High School. Wolever said Williams reminded him of a young Andre Dawson. Signability does not appear to be an issue with Williams.

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