This post will serve as a quick mid-season update for the VSL team. We will follow up at the end of the season with a more complete prospect list and review.
The VSL Phillies are currently in 6th place out of 7 teams in the VSL with a 21-33 record. The team is a relatively young team offensively, and has consequently had some trouble scoring runs. The offense was helped immensely by the mid-season addition of 2 more experienced players (Luis Martinez – sent down from GCL, and Rudney Balentien – previously in the DSL). The pitching staff, on the other hand, was a little older and contains fewer prospects. Its best pitcher (Ely Izturriaga) was also promoted to GCL.The result has been a mediocre team in terms of wins and losses, though the offense does show some promise in the performance of several younger prospects. The pitching staff does not seem to have many realistic prospects, though it should be noted that new signee Lino Martinez has yet to pitch and probably will not make his debut until next season.
On offense the top player has been 19-year-old OF Rudney Balentien from Curacao. He is coming off a 3 HR game this weekend and is now hitting .369 with 8 HR in only 84 AB. This is after 1 HR in 2 DSL seasons. He is now sitting with an OPS of 1.150, though it is difficult to know if he is a real prospect. At the very least he is showing enough to merit a promotion to GCL next year. The other midseason addition to the VSL team is Luis Martinez who was cut from GCL earlier this year. He is also 19 and is hitting .290 with 2 HR and a .790 OPS.
The 2 high profile players we were watching at the beginning of the year have not had great years so far. Bernardo Solarte is 1 17-year-old CF who went 8-34 in the first 2 weeks of the season but has not been heard from since (probably due to injury). SS Nerio Rios, also age 17, has had mediocre results. He is hitting .220 with a .566 OPS and little speed (4 SB, 6 CS). Rios was reputed to be a good defender with better offensive tools than Freddy Galvis.
While the high profile players have fizzled, a couple of other young prospects have picked up the slack. Most prominent is 18-year-old C Marco Davalillo. Davalillo is hitting .337 with 3 HR and 19 RBI (.866 OPS). Davalillo has also thrown out the highest percentage of basestealers (35%) of the 4 catchers on the roster. A couple of other 17-year-old catchers are also holding their own offensively. Enderson Villegas is hitting .289 (1 HR, 13 RBI, .817 OPS) while Willians Astudillo is hitting .270 (1 HR, 18 RBI, .662 OPS). Astudillo appears to be the weaker of the 3 catchers defensively, so is probably a lesser prospect.
Beyond these players there are a few other names to watch. Luis Unda is a 19-year-old OF that is a solid hitter (.292, 3 HR, 28 RBI, .783 OPS) but a little old to be a top prospect. Eduards Tolo is a small infielder (mainly 3B) that is hitting .283. Rosmel Fajardo is the youngest player on the team at age 16, though he is having trouble holding his own hitting only .172.
While there are not a huge number of prospects on offense, there are at least a few names worth watching (Davalillo, Balentien, Solarte, Rios). The pitching staff is much more of a disappointment. The best pitcher in the first half of the season was Ely Izturriaga who went 2-2 with a 2.08 ERA and solid peripheral stats (39 IP, 32 H, 10 BB, 47 K). He was promoted to GCL a few weeks ago.
Beyond Izturriaga, there are not many pitchers to get excited about. Yosber Monzon is a 19-year-old RHP that is 4-2 with a 3.40 ERA (53 IP, 39 H, 22 BB, 33 K). He will need to miss more bats if he is to progress in the future. The other starters are Zael Honora (age 19, 6.34 ERA), Leonel Bastides (age 20, 5.20 ERA), Jesus Pirela (age 20, 4.63 ERA), and Ervis Manzanillo (age 19, 5.32 ERA). Pirela has a decent BB/K ratio of 21/50, though at age 20 is a little old to be a real prospect without a dominating performance.
None of the younger pitchers such as 17-year-old Jorge Guzman (6.75 ERA) have stood out as potential prospects. 2 19-year-olds (Juary Gomez and Kirlian Campo) have pitched decently in relief roles, though the fact that they are not starting probably means the team does not see them as real prospects.
We will check back in with the DSL shortly and then follow-up with top prospect lists in August after the season has been completed.