One year after landing one of the top international prospects at the July 2 signing period, 16-year-old Dominican first baseman/outfielder Jhailyn Ortiz, the Phillies are active once again, landing two of MLB.com’s Top 30 international prospects.
MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez reports the Phils have signed Francisco Morales, a right-handed pitcher out of Venezuela, for $900,000, far less than the $4 million given to Ortiz last year. Here’s what Sanchez wrote about Morales, ranked No. 16 by MLB.com.
Morales, the top pitcher from Venezuela, has the type of fastball that turns heads and the pitch has improved since the beginning of the year. His fastball has been clocked in the 92-96 mph range with movement, but his curveball could end up being his best pitch. He also throws a changeup and has shown better control.
The Phillies were big on Venezuelans this year, with all five signings so far coming from Venezuela. They signed shortstop Brayan Gonzalez, No. 26 on MLB.com’s list, for $800,000. Sanchez says there’s a lot to like about the switch hitter.
As for Gonzalez, he has displayed solid infield actions with soft hands on defense. At the plate, Gonzalez has shown a mature approach and can drive the ball into the gaps. He could hit for average as a right-handed hitter and is still developing as a hitter from the left side.
The Phils also agreed to deals with three other Venezuelans, shortstop Nicolas Torres for $665,000, shortstop Jose Tortelero for $450,000 and catcher Juan Apiricio for $475,000.
The Phillies had a total allotment of $5.6 million to spend on international players this year, so there is still plenty of room for the Phillies to add more to this list.
The Phils have had a lot of success in recent years with their international signees. Maikel Franco, Carlos Ruiz, Freddy Galvis, Cesar Hernandez, and Hector Neris were all international signees.
Last year’s pick, Ortiz, is off to a good start for the GCL Phillies, playing alongside this year’s No. 1 overall pick, Mickey Moniak and last year’s top pick Cornelius Randolph.
The July 2 international signing period allows teams to spend a fraction of what it would cost to sign players from Cuba, Japan or Korea, with most of the player signed being no older than 16 or 17 years old.
Spreading out dollars over multiple teenagers with potential often makes more sense than throwing a lot of money at one player, a philosophy the Phillies have adhered to with some very good success in recent years.
The day isn’t over, and more signings could come. Updates will be provided.