The 2012 Venezuelan Summer League Phillies season started last week. This post will provide a quick summary of the new names on the roster as well some insights on the first week of play. It can also serve as a discussion area for Venezuelan prospects. The Dominican Summer League should start next week as well and will be covered in a separate post.
The VSL has shrunk this season from 6 to 4 teams as the Pirates and Reds both pulled out of the league. Four teams remain: the Phillies, Rays, Tigers, and Mariners. The other teams are now sending their Venezuelan prospects to the DSL where the competition is better and the politics are a little more stable. It is an open question as to whether the VSL can continue as a viable entity, though the Phillies seem to be staying to take advantage of the money they have invested in their baseball complex. In addition, there may be additional advantages in attracting Venezuelan prospects who can play on a team in their country for the first year or two. The Phillies do continue to invest in top Venezuelan prospects with their largest investment to date last year in signing OF Carlos Tocci. Tocci will most likely make his debut later this year in the GCL.
In 2011 the Phillies finished 5th out of 6 teams in the VSL with a record of 32-38. While it was not their best team in recent years, it did graduate 7 players to GCL: Francisco Silva, Willians Astudillo, Herlis Rodriguez, Manaure Martinez, Luis Morales, Keivi Rojas, and Yoel Mecias. While it is possible some of these players will find their way back to the VSL, the 2012 roster has a large number of new players.
Oberdan Diaz – LHP – 6’1″, 175 – age 17
Sergio Velis – LHP – 5’11″, 182 – age 17 – signed $100K+ contract last year
Yeisson Fernandez – LHP – 6’4″, 170 – age 18
Ricardo Pinto – RHP – 6’0″, 165 – age 18
Joseph Carpabire – RHP – 6’2″, 180 – age 18 (19 in June)
Frank Rivas – RHP – 5’11″, 180 – age 19 (20 in July) – converted from catcher to pitcher this year
Jesus Morales – RHP – 6’1″, 165 – age 22
The names to watch in the early going off this list appear to be Sergio Velis and Yeisson Fernandez. Both are 17 year old lefties and are in the starting rotation. In general, the better prospects are usually in the starting rotation on the VSL and DSL teams. Velis is only 5’11″, but he was one of the 3 high dollar Phillies signings listed by Baseball America last year (after Carlos Tocci and Jiandido Tromp), His first start was great with 6 shutout innings with 7 ks. Fernandez is a year older and is more projectible at 6’4″. He also had a great first start with 5 IP and only 1 ER on 2 hits. The rest of the rotation is filled out by Douglas Parada (a stocky 19-year-old LHP at 6’1″, 233), Severino Gonzalez (19 year old RHP) and Moises Rivas (the one older starter at age 21).
Hiomarvic Colmenarez – C – 5’11″, 175 – age 16 (17 in June)
William Cuicas – SS – 5’11″, 180 – age 17
Enger Jiminez -OF – 6’1″, 165 – age 16 (17 in July)
Carlos Duran – OF – 6’2″, 170 – age 17
There are fewer new hitters though some are getting significant playing time. William Cuicas has started most of the games at SS and pushed last year’s starter (Jair Morelos) mainly to 2B. Carlos Duran has started in the OF and is off to a nice 7-21 start with 3 2B and 3 BB. Enger Jiminez is also 4-12 in more limited action. Veterans including Wilson Garcia and Rafael Fernandez are handling most of the catching. One more name to watch from last year’s team is 3B Francisco Herrera who is 5-14 in the early going. Alexander Perdomo is playing most of the infield positions and is currently sporting a .526 OBP (5-14 with 5 BB). Deibar Olivera is another infielder that is leading the team with 4 SB.
Next up will be the initial DSL report with follow-ups on both teams periodically through the season.