There are few in the business with a better feel for the pulse of the international market than Baseball America’s Ben Badler. This past week, Ben has been releasing various tables and rankings of total numbers spendings and signings, before then diving into individual teams. Ben does his breakdowns by calendar year, not signing period, but you can find all the documented international signees for the 2015-2016 signing period here. The Phillies had the 10th largest bonus pool entering the signing period with $3,041,700.
The Phillies spent the 9th most on international free agents with $4,910,000 and the 5th most on non-Cuban free agents with $4,910,000 (no Cuban players signed). During the 2015-2016 signing period they spent below $4,562,550 which was the max they could spend without penalty. They were able to do that by trading RHP Chris Oliver and LHP Josh Taylor to the Diamondbacks for their top slot. The Phillies ended up spending the most on non-Cuban players of any team that did not go over their bonus pool during the 2015-2016 signing period.
Number of Signees:
With a DSL and VSL team to fill the Phillies have always signed a large number of players. This year was slightly different with the Phillies not bringing in their usual 40+, but only 32 during 2015. A lot of this had to do with them spending $4.43M of their budget on 5 players (more on them later). Even with their 32 signees, the Phillies signed the 11th most players in baseball during that time period.
The part of all of this that is really important and informative is Ben’s writeup of notable signings during the time period. Given that the main article is behind the paywall (you can read it here) I will stick to short summaries of what Ben wrote about 5 players coupled with what we already know.
- Jhailyn Ortiz, OF ($4,010,000) – Biggest bonus for a Dominican player in 2015. A lot has been written about Ortiz already. It is all about power here, if he hits for it the other concerns go away. Ortiz is surprisingly athletic for his size, and at only 17 he has a lot of time to work through his issues (which are mostly caused by a lack of experience).
- Rafael Marchan, C ($200,000) – Marchan is a converted catcher who is still raw behind the plate. As a hitter, he is a high contact switch hitter who will hit more doubles than home runs. He is stateside for Spring Training and could win a job on the GCL team.
- Manuel Silva, LHP ($100,000) – Silva is a skinny 6’5″ lefty with a fastball sitting 87-90. He is a pure projection arm, you hope he can turn into a top prospect like Franklyn Kilome, but sometimes projection guys get released before full season ball like Denton Keys.
- Jonathan Guzman, ($60,000) – Guzman’s signing got zero buzz, but Ben says he excelled in the Dominican Instructional League. He is extremely young (August birthday like Carlos Tocci, Luis Encarnacion, and Jonathan Arauz before him), but he shows some feel for contact and should stick at shortstop already.
- Keudy Bocio ($70,000) – Bocio is the kind of guy who gets signed almost every year, middle infielder with some feel to hit and good speed. According to Ben, Bocio looks to be a better fit at second base than shortstop.
Overall 2015-2016 was atypical for the Phillies in Latin America as they handed out one of the largest bonuses. It changed their strategy from being a collection of lower money signings to being focused on the success of Jhailyn Ortiz. Ortiz has the potential to make it all worth it.
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