We need to rewind a month here, because I have yet to actually talk about an event that occurred on July 2. The Phillies entered this year with $4,750,000 to spend on international talent this year. We know the end of the story, but let’s go back to the beginning with who they signed, and then talk about what happened after that.
Like many outlets, I have left out the bonuses given to Venezuelan players. So here is who we know the Phillies signed.
- Luis Garcia, SS, Dominican Republic
- Victor Vargas, RHP, Colombia
- Cesar Rodriguez, C, Venezuela
- Carlos Betancourt, RHP, Venezuela
- Israel Puello, RHP, Dominican Republic
- Cristian Hernandez, RHP, Venezuela
- Oscar Gonzalez, C, Venezuela
- Alberto Torres, LHP, Colombia
- Diego Tamariz, RHP, Venezuela
- Alejandro Made, RHP, Dominican Republic
- Pedro Ramirez, OF, Dominican Republic
Of these, Luis Garcia was universally ranked high, and his $2.5M bonus shows how coveted he was. Garcia was considered the best defensive shortstop in the class, and there are some evaluators that thing he should grow into solid line drive contact. The Phillies dipped into the world of high priced pitching for the second year in a row after giving Francisco Morales a large bonus last year. RHP Victor Vargas was one of the top pitchers in the class because of his feel for pitching and 4 pitch mix. He doesn’t seem to have the body for big velocity long term, but he should move quicker than some of the more projectable arms in the system. RHP Carlos Betancourt is the more upside laden of the two with a fastball that is already up to 94. He apparently has a quick arm and is athletic, and his 6’1″ height puts him in the same class of pitchers that the Phillies excel with. He also has a good breaking ball to work with. It also wouldn’t be a Phillies deadline if they didn’t sign a catcher high, and for what feels like the 3rd or 4th year in a row they go with a bat first catcher with a good hit tool and feel for the strikezone (see Aparacio, Juan, Marchan, Rafael, Rodriguez, Lenin). Israel Puello did not get a full writeup from anyone, but apparently has a good arm as well.
All told this group cost the Phillies $4,670,000, which for those of you good with math is $80,000 below $4,750,000. I also don’t know the bonuses for Cristian Hernandez, Alejandro Made, and Pedro Ramirez. The Phillies sign on average 30-40 prospects a year, and you cannot do that on $80,000. On July 2 and 3 the Phillies traded RHP Tyler Frohwirth (Marlins), C James Lovett (Mariners), and Caleb Eldridge (Mariners) for international money. Now those are all fringe prospects, so I doubt it was a large sum of money.
This is where the Phillies’ deadline moves come in. Matt Klentak has said that the Phillies added at least a million dollars to their bonus pool. Many people in my mentions and various comment sections have asked if they are going to go after any of the big unsigned players. I think it is unlikely, but not impossible given their surprise signing of Muzziotti last year. More likely is we see a trickle of signings like this…
Now this is all kind of known, and the Phillies were far from special in getting international money from the Orioles and Nationals this deadline. However, this is a big move for the continued growth of the Phillies farm system. Because no matter what happens, the Phillies are finally sinking serious assets into Latin America. This will be the third straight year with a large bonus outlaying, and this will be their first full year with their new complex in the Dominican Republic. The program has carried the system with meager resources, it is hard not to be excited what a well funded program can do.