July 2 is just about two months away and the Phillies have the largest bonus pool. The fan expectation the last few years has been for the Phillies to spend a lot of money, especially on Cubans, and just blow their whole pol out. Those fans are going to be disappointed again as the Phillies look to be fully utilizing their pool (and maybe more like they did in 2015), but they are not going to go above. The teams that do appear to be going above are the Braves, Padres, and Nationals. Going over the pool is a risky proposition, sometimes you are the Red Sox and you get Anderson Espinoza and Yoan Moncada in one year, other times you get a giant haul like the Yankees did two years ago that just kind of fizzles out.
Enough of the abstract, because MLB Pipeline has their Top 30 out and there are names and rumors on it. Jesse Sanchez has the Phillies linked to two players #16 RHP Francisco Morales and #26 SS Brayan Gonzalez. It is important to realize that these two players likely only represent the tip of the signing period for the Phillies and the names and ranks will change as we get closer to July.
RHP Francisco Morales (10/27/1999)
The top pitcher from Venezuela, Morales has the type of fastball that turns heads and the pitch has improved in the last few months. He has been clocked in the 92-96 mph range with movement.
What’s more, the tall right-hander has the ideal pitcher’s frame and scouts love his upside. It’s true some scouts believe Morales is more of a thrower than a pitcher, but the young hurler has been working on commanding his pitches and creating a plan of attack when he’s on the mound. And while he has gained attention for pitching with velocity, Morales’ curveball could end up being his best pitch. He also throws a changeup and has shown improved control.
Scouts also like Morales’ mound presence and makeup. He’s a competitor and does not show fear on the mound.
Morales, who is from the Venezuelan state of Guarica, trains with Yasser Mendez at the Yasser Mendez Baseball Agency and Academy. The Phillies are the favorite to sign the right-handed pitcher.
SS Brayan Gonzalez (4/13/2000)
A solid combination of instincts and tools, scouts rave about Gonzalez’s potential on both sides of the ball.
Gonzalez has displayed solid infield actions with soft hands on defense. He’s impressed evaluators with the way he controls his body and a quick first step. Want to see a runner get thrown out from deep in the hole on the left side of the infield? There’s a good chance you’ll get the chance when Gonzalez is patrolling shortstop. Scouts love how he throws now and expect his arm to get even stronger and more accurate as he develops.
Gonzalez also has a plan at the plate and can drive the ball into the gaps. He has a chance to hit for average as a right-handed hitter and is still developing as a hitter from the left side. The consensus is that Gonzalez plays the game well beyond his years and would be a welcomed addition to any club. The teenager is trained by Roberto Vahlis in Venezuela. The Phillies are the favorite to sign him.
There is nothing to complain about with both players. That is a lot of present velocity for Morales and he has the frame to possibly fill in to sit there. Gonzalez reminds me a lot of the traded Jonathan Arauz except with the arm and glove to stick at shortstop, but less power potential. Still a lot of time (years) to go before we make any real judgements.