Waterford's Sutera to accept free agent offer from Phillies

Waterford High School's Thomas Sutera, who was pitching this summer with the Harwich Mariners and was recently selected to play in the Cape Cod Baseball League's All-Star Game, is leaving the Cape early to sign a free agent contract with the Philadelphia Phillies. (Photo courtesy of Emily Reed)
Waterford High School's Thomas Sutera, who was pitching this summer with the Harwich Mariners and was recently selected to play in the Cape Cod Baseball League's All-Star Game, is leaving the Cape early to sign a free agent contract with the Philadelphia Phillies. (Photo courtesy of Emily Reed)

Less than a week after being named to the Cape Cod League All-Star team, Thomas Sutera's summer with the Harwich Mariners has come to an abrupt end.

But for a good reason.

Actually, for a great one.

Sutera, a Waterford High School graduate, is going to sign a professional baseball contract with the Philadelphia Phillies.

The Phillies offered to sign the 6-foot-6 pitcher as an undrafted free agent following Harwich's game against Cotuit on Wednesday night.

Sutera, who was planning to return to Siena College for his senior year, has agreed to a verbal contract with the National League club. He will fly to the Phillies' minor league complex in Clearwater (Fla.) on Monday for a physical, and expects to sign later in the day.

"This was all out of the blue," Sutera said Saturday night. "I'm still in shock about it. It's everything I've ever dreamed about."

Sutera said it's common for major league teams to pull select groups of players aside during the Cape season for questioning and testing, and he was part of one of those groups in Harwich.

"But I didn't really think much of it," he said. "I just hoped to come here, have a good experience, and get some good looks for next year when I was back at (Siena).

"Now it's all changing."

Sutera was approached by two members of the Phillies' scouting department after the game on Wednesday night.

"They pulled me aside behind the dugout to talk in private," he said. "They said, 'we really like you. We think you flew under the radar, and would like to sign you as quickly as we can.'"

Undrafted free agents generally have little leverage when it comes to money, but after receiving advice from his family, Siena coach Tony Rossi and a few trusted friends, Sutera was able to negotiate what he felt was a fair contract.

"One of the bargaining points," Sutera said, "was I gave up throwing in the all-star game to get a little bit better deal. I felt it was good offer. (The Phillies) are also going to pay for my final two semesters of school, which was the main point I was looking for."

After reporting to Florida, passing his physical and finalizing his contract, Sutera said he expects to throw his first few innings with Clearwater in the Gulf Coast Rookie League, although the Phillies told him that's still to be determined.

"It really depends on where they need players," he said.

One possibility could be the Williamsport Crosscutters, Philadelphia's Single-A short season team in the New York-Penn League.

"That would be the ideal setup for me," Sutera said. "They've got a team in Norwich (Connecticut Tigers), which obviously is close to home, and one in Albany (Tri-City ValleyCats), which is close to Siena."

Sutera also said if he's not invited to the Florida Instructional League this fall, he will return to Siena, complete the first semester, and move a step closer to earning his college degree.

c.banning@theday.com

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