Both of the Latin American complex leagues have started in the past few weeks. This post and a subsequent DSL post will look at the new players on the roster and highlight some of the players to watch for this season.
The Phillies won the Venezuelan Summer League last year with a 48-22 record. The team did have a handful of prospects who have won promotion to GCL and above (Severino Gonzalez for example), though it was not a team with a great number of top tier prospects. They were a dominant team primarily because the quality of the rest of the league was relatively poor. The league dropped down to only 4 teams because of the political unrest in the country with most organizations sending their prospects to the DSL and even starting a 2nd DSL team to give them playing time.
After the first couple of weeks it does look like the quality of the league has improved. Some Phillies that did not get promoted are performing a little worse this year compared to last. The league is up to 5 teams this year as the Cubs have added a team (in addition to the Rays, Tigers, and Mariners). The Phillies are currently in 3rd place, 6 games behind the Mariners.
The team boasts 13 new players this season or about half the roster. Most of the players are from Venezuela though a handful of prospects are from other countries (Panama, Mexico). The rest of this post will list the new players and then provide some brief comments on the prospects that have stood out early in the season.
Pitchers (6 New) – Team average age is 18.8 (vs 18.8 for the league)
RHP Victor Delgado (age 18, 6’2″, 182) – one of 2 new pitchers in the starting rotation. He has had a decent start: 0-0, 5.40 ERA, 16.2 IP, 19 H, 2 BB, 13 K
RHP Reiwal Gonzalez (age 18, 6’2″, 196) – 3.12 ERA, 8.2 IP, 10 H, 4 BB, 6 K
LHP Alfredo Perez (age 18, 6’1″, 176) – 1.2 IP, 2 H, 1 BB, 3 K
RHP Alexis Rivero (age 18, 6’0″, 192) – Also starting: 1-1, 1.71 ERA, 21 IP, 22 H, 4 BB, 10 K
RHP Alejandro Garcia (age 18/19, 6’3″, 150) – 6.1 IP, 4 H, 0 BB, 2 K
RHP Carlos Indriago (age 18/19, 6’2″, 197) – 7.2 IP, 13 H, 4 BB, 6 K
Delgado and Rivero are the 2 to watch of the new pitchers. Generally pitchers that are in the starting rotation are the better prospects. The other 3 pitchers in the starting rotation also bear watching. LHP Sergio Velis was a high dollar signee from a year ago who only threw limited innings in 2012, possibly as a result of a minor injury. He is still only 18 (so the same age as the other new pitchers) and has gone 0-4 with a 4.03 ERA though his peripherals are better than his other stats: 22.1 IP, 24 H, 5 BB, 14 K.
The best pitcher on the team so far has been 19-year-old RHP Ricardo Pinto. In the early going he is 2-0 with a 2.00 ERA (18 IP, 18 H, 5 BB, 17 K). He also pitched well last year with a 2.74 ERA in 69 IP. The final member of the rotation is also an interesting project: 19-year-old Mexican LHP Jesus Chavez. Chavez has some projection left at 6’3″, 175 and has pitched relatively well so far with a 2-0 record, a 4.50 ERA, and decent peripheral stats (20 IP, 22 H, only 3 BB, and 21 K).
Hitters (7 New) – Team average age in only 18.2 years old vs 18.4 for the league
C Gregori Rivero (age 17, 5’11″, 194) – One of two high bonus players on the team ($110K), Rivero is off to a nice start hitting .304 with a .725 OPS. Not that patient with only 1 BB so far.
C Adrian Acosta (age 17, 5’11″, 165) – Acosta is also off to a good start hitting .294 with 1 HR and a .742 OPS
C Anthony Rodriguez (age 18, 5’9″, 148) – Has not played much going 1-6 so far
SS/3B Damaso Gonzalez (age 17, 6’1″, 152) – Playing mainly 3B in a reserve role, is hitting .200
SS Willerker Isava (age 17, 5’11″, 174) – The second high bonus player from 2012 on the roster ($200K). Isava is reputed to be a strong defensive SS. Has not played much so may be hurt. Is 6-24 so far.
SS Grenny Cumana (age 17, 5’5″, 143) – Small SS is hitting .234 with a .645 OPS, getting extra playing time with Isava out.
OF Joseph Miranda (age 18, 6’2″, 186, from Panama) – The best start from a new offensive player is from Miranda, a switch-hitting LF. Hitting .264 with 1 HR and a .795 OPS. He is slightly older at age 18, though coming from Panama might be a little more raw than the other new prospects.
The heart of the offense for the team lies in 5 older prospects. 1B/C Wilson Garcia is 19 and in his 3rd season with the club. He is hitting .269 with 1 HR but is coming off a .903 OPS season last year. Brazilian WBC 2B Lucas Rojo is off to a .902 OPS start with 3 HR. IF Alexander Perdomo is hitting .356 with a .986 OPS. Finally, 21-year-old 1B Rafael Fernandez is hitting .348 with 2 HR and a 1.020 OPS.
The most interesting prospect to watch among the holdovers is 18-year-old OF Freddy Zorilla. Besides the myriad of nickname possibilities, Zorilla is hitting .314 with a team-leading 4 HR and a .934 OPS. He only has 2 BB though, so patience could be an issue. The players to watch on offense are most likely the two high bonus players (Rivero and Isava) along with Zorilla, Miranda, and Acosta. We should caution everyone to note that the best prospects (including new Venezuelan signee Lewis Alezones) often skip straight to the GCL. Think of the prospects on this team as HS draft choices beyond the top 10 rounds. Hopefully we will hit on a couple of them, but most are not considered top prospects until they at least advance to a U.S. short season league.
Next up will be a review of the DSL team after they have been through the starting rotation a couple of times to give us a better idea of which prospects are starting.