July 2 is coming up quickly, and frankly I can’t tell you who the Phillies are going to sign. I do know they have been linked to 3 players: a bat first catcher, a glove first shortstop, and a hit first SS, who is probably a center fielder. The bonuses should all be under $1 million. I expect the Phillies to spend their full allotment, and you should follow Ben Badler if you want more than that. But what I do know is that I trust the Phillies international operation. Sal Agostinelli is one of the best in the industry, and the Phillies have had a system the past 4 years and used it well. Before going into that, here are the fruits of their latin american labor, or at least the notable and semi-notable (all ranks are Baseball America)
Minor Leagues: Hector Neris, Sebastian Valle, Maikel Franco (Phillies #1), Freddy Galvis, Leandro Castro, Severino Gonzalez (#9), Edgar Duran, Miguel Nunez, Domingo Santana (HOU #8), Lisalverto Bonilla (TEX #20), Yoel Mecias (#23), Malquin Canelo (#28), Samuel Hiciano, Carlos Tocci (#5), Ricardo Pinto, Deivi Grullon (#14), Herlis Rodriguez, Jiandido Tromp, Lewis Alezones, Gregori Rivero, Luis Encarnacion (#13), Grenny Cumana, Jose Pujols (#19), Carlos Duran, Bryan Martelo, Julsan Kamara
My preliminary midseason Top 20 has 8 players signed in Latin America on it as we speak and the BA list had 10 out of their 30 prospects.
And yes it may not be a ton of sexy names, but they have done it through smart spending and scouting. Now more than ever, the Phillies are consolidating in Venezuela. Right now only 4 teams maintain a summer league team in the VSL as teams look for newer and safer markets. The Phillies have in turn heavily scouted the region looking to find talent other teams have overlooked. So far they have done well to balance this more old school approach with buying bigger ticket players like Tocci, Grullon, Encarnacion, and Pujols.
So I don’t think the Phillies will be making anyone’s post J2 winners list, but they will sign a bunch of guys they scouted well to spread their risk and possible reward. It is a strategy that has been working for them and has provided a huge boost to a rebuilding farm system.