2012 was a transitional year for the Phillies in Latin America. They continued to have teams in both the Dominican Republic and Venezuela, though most of their better International prospects skipped those leagues and went straight to the United States (usually to the Gulf Coast League).
The year was transitional because it also saw the debut of a new major league baseball international signing cap. In recent years the Phillies had been wary of bidding on top talent as the price of that talent had started to skyrocket. In 2012 all MLB teams were on an even footing with a $2.9 million spending limit (plus 6 $50,000 exceptions and an unlimited number of low priced below $10K signings). The Phillies finally started to loosen their purse strings and reportedly spent about $2,0 million fairly quickly on 5 players. We have seen announcements (or actual sightings in instructional league) of 4 players:
Jose Pujols – RF – 6’4″, 185 – A big, raw RF with lots of power potential – $540K, BA’s #20 intl prospect
Deivi Grullon – C – 5’11″, 195 – BA #15 intl prospect, Carlos Ruiz clone physically – $575K
Willerker Isava – SS – Venezuelan supposedly solid on defense though a question on offense ($200K)
Lewis Alezones – RHP – 6’3″, 170 – VZ pitcher with projection touches 90 ($320K)
There was one more high profile signing that was not announced and most likely a few other 2nd and 3rd tier prospects that will debut in the VSL or DSL. It would not bw surprising if the 4 mentioned above all went straight to GCL as they have already been part of instructional league. The new system appears to favor the Phillies’ traditional strategy of going for multiple good prospects rather than 1 or 2 great prospects.
Last year’s DSL and VSL teams were a mixed bag. The DSL team finished 6th in their division at 32-36 and did not feature a roster that was especially young. There seem to be a few potential prospects on the roster (see below) though there were no standouts (as in young players who were dominating). The VSL team dominated a 4-team league going 48-22 and winning the championships. Unfortunately it looks like the quality of VSL play has decreased substantially, so again it is hard to see if there were any great prospects on the roster.
The following are a couple of rough top 10 lists of the players that stood out most to me on each team. These lists are not based on scouting reports for the most part unfortunately. They are based on stats, the age of the players, their playing time, and occasional mentions of these players in the news. If the players played in instructionals last fall they also made these lists. If the Phillies like them enough to do that, they probably know more about whether they are a prospect than I do. Without further ado, here are the top 10 lists:
1. Samuel Hiciano (RF, age 18, 6’1″, 203) – Best offensive prospect hit .284 with a 789 OPS, 22 XBH including 4 HR and 16 SB
2. Olvy Marte (CF/2B. age 17, 5’9″, 154) – Speedy CF held his own hitting .277 with a .394 OBP and 21 SB
3. Elniery Garcia (LHP, age 17, 6’0″, 155) – Limited time and only 2-1, 4.18 ERA record, though the youngest pitcher to go to instructionals
4. Seranthony Dominguez (RHP, age 17, 6’4″, 183) – 4-4. 3.48 ERA, 67.1 IP, 63 H, 26 BB, 40 K. Young and tall and in the rotation all year. All good signs the Phillies like him.
5. Erick Cedeno (LHP, age 19, 6’3″, 220) 1-0, 1.32 ERA, 13.2 IP, 10 H, 6 BB, 19 K. – Older late signing also went to instructionals
6. Francibel Alejo (LHP, age 19, 6’3″, 170) 5-7, 3.06 ERA, 79.1 IP, 94 H, 8 BB, 46 K – Tall LHP did not take a step forward unfortunately and was a little too hittable.
7. Wilber Torres (C, age 18, 5’11″, 206) – Catcher hit .241 with a .694 OPS
8. Gregorio Santos (RHP, age 19, 6’3″, 190) 4-3, 3.55 ERA, 76 IP, 84 H, 29 BB, 52 K – Another older starter that played pretty well.
9. Malquin Canelo (SS, age 17, 5’10″, 156) Can’t hit (.167), but started at SS at age 17 so he must be good defensively
10. Enmanuel Serra (2B, age 19) Hit .254 with a .362 OBP and 21 SB – A little old to be considered a prospect