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Friday, Jun 14 2013 10:38 PM

Sweaney, Phillies agree to contract

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    Jame Sweaney's rookie-level uniform

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    By Rod Thornburg / Special to The Californian

    Garces Jake Sweaney file photo from a game against Tehachapi in May, 2013.

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BY ZACH EWING Californian staff writer zewing@bakersfield.com

It was just a mundane task, the kind of form most of us fill out without thinking twice.

But this time, recent Garces High graduate Jake Sweaney hesitated: "OCCUPATION," the form read.

"Jake goes, 'Well, what do I put?'" said Andy Sweaney, Jake's father.

"One of the Phillies guys turns to him and says, 'For the first time -- and hopefully not the last -- you get to put professional baseball player.' That was pretty cool for him."

Sweaney signed a contract Friday morning with the Philadelphia Phillies, the team that picked him in the fourth round of last week's Major League Baseball Draft.

The Phillies and Sweaney agreed to a signing bonus of $400,000, slightly below the MLB-recommended slot value of $421,000 for the 121st pick but slightly above what Sweaney had told teams he wanted before the draft.

Jake Sweaney could not be reached for comment Friday.

By signing, Sweaney has chosen to forgo college baseball; he had signed to play at Oregon. But in addition to his signing bonus, the Phillies have given Sweaney money for a future college education.

“I don’t like to talk about money; Jake and his agent were talking about all that stuff,” Andy Sweaney said. “But with the money for school included, it adds up to a bunch.”

Sweaney, a 6-foot-2 catcher, arrived in Philadelphia with the Phillies’ top three picks Wednesday. After signing, he reported to Clearwater, Fla., where he joined the Gulf Coast League Phillies on Friday.

“He said they hit and he caught a little bit and that they’re going back tomorrow,” Andy Sweaney said. “It’s like it’s become routine already.

“I got a message from the Phillies Director of Baseball Operations (Ed Wade) saying, ‘Congratulations, your son’s a professional baseball player.’

“Who ever thought anything like this could happen?”

The GCL Phillies are a rookie-level team who begin play Friday at home against the GCL Blue Jays.

“I told Jake, ‘You’ve just gone from superhero (with Garces) to super-zero,” Andy Sweaney said. “Everybody’s like him now. It’s the bottom of the barrel, but that’s where you’ve got to start. We’ll see what he can do.”

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