2010 VSL/DSL Prospect Summary

This post is a much-delayed recap of the top prospects who played in the Latin American complex leagues in 2010.  I apologize for the delay as I got too wrapped up in work at the end of last year to put together a summary.  As minor league spring training starts this week and we start to see some of these faces for the first time, this post can serve as a place to discuss the Latin American prospects, both in the complex leagues and the stateside leagues.

2010 followed the Phillies recent pattern of a handful of mid-level international signings and then a large number of low-level signings that play a year or two in the VSL or DSL.  Announced signings in the past couple of years include the following:

LHP Lino Martinez – 17 (Venezuela, $325,000)
RHP Miguel Nuñez – 17 (D.R.; $220,000)
3B Maikel Franco – 17 (D.R.; $100,000)
RHP Marek Minarik – 16 (Czech Republic, Bonus Unknown)
RHP Josh Warner – 17 ((Australia; Bonus Unknown)
SS Francisco Silva – 16 (Venezuela, $200,000)
SS Anderson Gonzalez – 16 (Venezuela, $300,000)
LHP Franklyn Zavala – 16 (D.R., $330,000)

Silva, Gonzalez, and Zavala are this year’s class and are most likely better prospects than any of the players in the DSL and VSL leagues.  Most of the announced signings will go straight to GCL because of the better coaching and education options available there, though it is possible the Phillies might leave one of the two SS in the VSL to make sure each gets enough playing time.

Last year’s VSL and DSL teams were not especially prospect-laden as most of the announced signees (with the exception of a brief Miguel Nunez DSL cameo before the GCL season started) did not play in the leagues.  The VSL team finished 32-36, in 5th place in that 7 team league.  The DSL team fared better, going 43-29 in their 8 team BC South division.  Each team (especially the DSL team) was a little older than the league average, so it is possible their wins are due largely to the older players’ contribution.  While there is no hard and fast rule as to when a prospect is too old for their league, hitters age 19 and older and pitchers age 20 and older are rarely top 30 quality prospects.

Edit – From the comments a Baseball America article today says that the Silva and Gonzalez contracts were voided because the players lied about their age.  Total Phillies International spending for 2010 was listed as $1.49 million and ranked 21st in the majors.  Not sure whether the $500K from the two voided bonuses has been subtracted or not.  BA will also post a division summary for the NL East in the next few days so we might learn more.  Bottom line – we need to spend the money we just saved on a shortstop prospect this year if possible.

With all that being said, here is a rough top 10 lists of the better prospects on each team.  This list is highly subjective and based mostly on statistics, playing time, and the age of the prospects.  Playing time is important, as the better prospects will receive more of it no matter how well they are playing.  Thus a pitcher who is a regular member of the starting rotation is most likely a better prospect than any reliever no matter what their relative statistics might say.  What this is not based upon is actual scouting reports.  We’ll try to get a Q and A on some of these players later this year with the Phillies’ staff.  Until then we are left with statistics and an occasional random quote on the web.

VSL Phillies (ages as of last year)

1. Willians Astudillo – age 18 – 3B/C Hit .312 with a .778 OPS  Rarely Ks and has some speed (9 SB).  Prospect status might depend on defense.
2. Jorge Guzman – age 18 – RHP – 3.78 ERA, 50 IP, 44 H, 17 BB, 32 K – Second youngest pitcher in the starting rotation.  Needs to miss more bats.
3. Rosmel Fajardo – age 17 – CF – Hit .286 with a .717 OPS.  Good speed (10 SB).
4. Ronald Mendez – age 17 – RHP – Youngest starter.  Only a 4.62 ERA but 39.1 IP at a young age suggest the Phillies like him.  16/13 BB/K ratio needs improvement.
5. Wilmer Oberto – age 17 – RF – Oberto hit well for a 17 year old (.298/.745) with a decent idea of the strike zone (12 BB/17K).  Power is all projection at this point however.
6. Marco Davalillo – age 19 – C/1B – Davalillo would have ranked ahead of all these players last year after a .896 OPS.  Then he went to Spring Training and got hurt and ended up with a lost year.  Hopefully he regains his stroke and gets a chance to jump all the way to Williamsport in what will be his age 20 season.
7. Zael Honora – age 20 – RHP – 3-5 with a 3.93 ERA; 50.2 IP, 47 H, 33 BB, 36 K.  A little old and struggled with command.
8. Enderson Villegas – age 18 – C/1B – Hit .228 with a little power as one of the starting catchers on the team.
9. Leonel Bastides – age 21 – RHP – 4-4 with a 3.82 ERA.  Way too old but good command (16 BB, 45 K).
10. Ely Izturriaga – age 20 – LHP – LOOGY candidate had a brief turn in GCL a couple of years ago.

Others: Eduards Tolo (SS), Jose Martinez RHP

DSL Phillies (Miguel Nunez would have ranked number one, but spent most of the season at GCL).

1. Carlos Best – age 19 – RHP – Converted OF turning into a polished pitcher went 3-2 with a 1.55 ERA and good peripherals (75.2 IP, 58 H, 17 BB, 66 K)
2. Adrian Sierra – age 19 – LHP – In an organization in need of left handed pitching Sierra went 3-4 with a 1.23 ERA. (87.2 IP, 65 H, 25 BB, 66 K)
3. Yeisson Morales – age 18 – 3B -Big kid (6’3″, 195) at a position of need improved in his second DSL season adding some power (16 XBH) to patience.  Hit .268 with a .735 OPS.
4. Gabriel Arias – age 20 – RHP – Very polished pitcher that was signed for $100K several years ago.  4-2 with a 1.22 ERA.  73.2 IP, 62 H, only 6 BB and 67 K.
5. Daniel De La Cruz – age 19 – RHP – Closer for DSL. 40.2 IP, 26 H, 11 BB, 32 K.  Went 5-0 with a 1.11 ERA and 6 saves.
6. Jorge Castillo – age 19 – LF – A little old and potentially limited to LF, Castillo was the best hitter on the team hitting .253 but with 24 XBH and 6 HR in an offensively challenged environment (notice all the great pitching stats).
7. Delvi Francisco – age 17 – RF – Best young hitter on the team, though struggled at times (.238/.642).  13 BB shows some idea of strike zone though 35 Ks were a lot.
8. Luis Gonzalez – age 18 – LHP – Another lefty struggled at times (3-3, 4.14 ERA).  37 IP, 28 H, 36 BB, 29 K.
9. Rafael De La Cruz – age 18 – C – Best hitter of the two catchers.  Hit .256 with a .730 OPS.  Edwin Esquea is another catcher to look at for the future.
10. Ramon Oviedo – age 19 – RHP – Another pitcher with great stats (4-1, 1.57, 34.1 IP, 27 H, 14 BB, 26 K) ranked a little lower because of less playing time and weaker peripherals.

Others: Esquea (C), Carlos Valenzuela (3B/SS), Julio Reyes (RHP), San Lazaro Solano (RHP suspended for performance enhancement drugs), Alvaro Bacil (RHP, oft-injured former high bonus pitcher).

We will check back once the 2011 season starts.  In the next week or two we should also get a list of the DSL/VSL players in Spring Training this year.  Most of those players will end up on the extended Spring and then GCL rosters.

37 thoughts on “2010 VSL/DSL Prospect Summary

  1. Thanks Andy. I love to look at these leagues to see. It’s really hard to gauge the power of guys in these leagues. It seems like there are very few HRs. Maybe these ballparks are the size of Texas?

    Jorge Castillo intrigues me because he hit 6 dingers and that’s twice as many as any other prospect the Phils have down there. He’s also a switch hitter. Valenzuela was a bonus baby who finally had a middlin’ season (.269/.320/.318) but it might be too late for him.

  2. In general the ballparks are pretty large. Not that I have ANY knowledge of the specific DSL and VSL fields, but I assume they are somewhat similar to the practice fields at various string training complexes. I have played in some of the Arizona complexes and most fields there were 360 down the line and in the 420-430 range in CF. Arizona has a little bit of altitude, so the Latin American ones may not be quite so big. I will say that our DSL team always has great pitching stats. So a big park there is probably part of the equation.

    That is why Castillo intrigues me as well. He hit 6 HR in the same environment that half our pitching staff had a sub-2 ERA. Of course he is a little old and does not play a premium defensive position. He could be the next Geancarlo Mendez. A guy who can hit a little but does not have quite the defense or offense to compare to similar guys a couple of years younger.

  3. Anyone ever know what happened to Felix Cespedes? He looked to have potential 2 years ago

  4. Cespedes was suspended last year and did not pitch. I never saw the reason for the suspension. He was then released last December, so I assume there was something involved in the suspension that diminished his prospect status.

    1. USCIS has pretty high standards for entry visas these days. Its pretty tough to fool them anymore. One of those fringe benefits from the 9/11 fallout and whatnot.

  5. Are either of the more recently signed SSs going to play in USA’s GCL in Clwtr?

    Or need time in the Caribbean lgs?

    Hurry! Our SS situation could need a more rapid candidate to replace J-Roll even if he does well this season. In 3 yrs even if he signs an extension.

    ??

  6. I vaguely recall Cespedes being suspended for PEDs then released. If I have him confused with someone else, I apologize.

  7. The better of the two SS signees will probably play in the GCL, at least. 300K signings don’t usually languish in the complexes. If they do, the brass is disappointed with them.

    We’re still not doing what we should be in Latin America. Not enough big league impact, that’s for sure. Ruiz, who was a somewhat lucky, position switching late developer is all we have to show for our Latin expeditions in the majors. Carrasco traded, Silva traded, Monasterios unprotected, no one else really helping at the upper levels. We could be a lot better.

    1. Agree on the two SS. Both need to start somewhere so probably the more advanced of the two makes GCL. Both go there if one plays 2B.

      To be fair on the prospects, we trade more than half of our real prospects these days, so discounting Carrasco and Silva and Monasterios is unfair. We are probably middle of the pack at producing in Latin America which is impressive given the below average dollars we invest. Bastardo is another likely 25-man roster member this year, so it is not like we are producing nothing. I would just love to see our potential there with an extra million a year in investment.

    2. I disagree on the Phillies overall performance in Latin America. For what they invest there, they are getting a tremendous yield.
      This fall alone three players snagged by Sal Agostinelli out of Latin America were added to the 40-man, Galvis, Hernandex and Garcia, as CSNPhilly’s Jim Salisbury reported at the start of camp. Plus, Carrasco and Villar, two other signees, were key players used to snag Lee and Oswalt. That’s actually a fairly good output for an organization that is not considered a big spender south of the borders.

      Here is the Salisbury notebook item I referred to earlier:

      In November, the Phillies added five minor-leaguers to their 40-man roster, thus protecting them from being snatched by another club in the Rule 5 draft. The players included pitcher De Fratus, first baseman Matt Rizzotti, and infielders Freddy Galvis, Cesar Hernandez and Harold Garcia.

      Four of those players have something in common: They were signed by Phils’ scout Sal Agostinelli. Agostinelli had known Rizzotti for years on Long Island. He followed his progress at Manhattan College and pushed for him in the draft. In his day job, Agostinelli oversees international scouting for the Phils. Galvis, Hernandez and Garcia were all signed out of Latin America, Agostinelli’s prime focus area.

      In recent years, Agostinelli signings such as Carlos Carrasco (to the Indians for Lee) and Jonathan Villar (to the Astros for Oswalt) were used to acquire big talent that helped win division titles. Villar has been rated as the Astros’ second-best prospect by Baseball America.

      That’s not a bad haul considering numerous baseball sources have said the Phillies’ budget for Latin American signings ranks in the bottom third in the majors.

      Years ago, Agostinelli looked at a rugged second baseman in Panama and said, “Let’s make him a catcher.” He signed the kid for $8,000 and now Carlos Ruiz is one of the Phillies’ most indispensable players.

      So, as Galvis, Hernandez, Garcia and Rizzotti enter a spring-training clubhouse that already includes Ruiz, it’s a good time for a tip of the cap to Agostinelli, one of the many behind-the-scenes people who have helped in the club’s rise to elite status.

  8. BA says the Phils never signed Anderson Gonzalez or Francisco Silva- they lied about their age.

    1. Kinda sucks to have one of the lower international budgets in the league and then get 2 of your top 3 signings voided out because they lied about their ages. System is absolutely starved for credible SS prospects right now.

    2. Fish, do you have a link to that. I went over to BA and looked around but couldn’t find anything.

    3. There is an international review article up on BA today that I do not have access to. FWIW the table on total International bonus by team lists the Phillies at $1.49 million and ranks them 21st. If one then takes away the Gonzalez and Silva bonuses ($500K total) we would rank 26th in spending. This is a big disappointment if we lose both SS prospects. I guess we will get confirmation on that when we see the minor league Spring Training roster.

    4. I found pictures that are reportedly of Silva from the Instructional League in a Phillies uniform. I think it’s mikejanesphotography.

    5. From the list that was posted here, both guys were in instructionals. I read the same thing in BA–from the way it was worded, I’m thinking maybe the originally reported bonuses were voided, but that the Phillies still ended up signing them.

      Maybe an early arriver to Spring Training can post whether they’re in camp.

  9. Excellent report Andy. This is the kind of depth we get here that I’ve never seen any where else. For me when I monitor these leagues as they pertain to position players I think of Cabrera and Andruw Jones and how they stormed the bigs at age 19.

    I concede these 2 are once in a generation type players. My point is the latin league players either move fast or they don’t move at all. Could be perception or it could be reality.

    1. Andruuw Jones’s fade has been fast enough to make me wonder if he really was 19.

  10. I Remember the day I question latin players ages and got ripped by pp and others, that it doesnt go all anymore. But knew from reading a lot of stories its still goes on. now two more kids at least got caught. A lot dont its a real problem. you invest in this kids and get screwed by there lying.

    1. If I remember correctly, you were implying that almost every prospect from the Latin American countries was in fact a year or two older than they claimed to be. Just because one or two still manage to trick the system doesn’t mean that Latin American prospect = lying about their age.

  11. Most of the players lying about their age get caught these days when they need to apply for a work visa. While it is still a problem, it is simply the cost of doing business in a world where younger players get more money. This is not really different from the U.S. pre-1960. Look at stories of older baseball players and see how many of them lied about their age.

    So it is no surprise that poor 18 year olds might lie about their age. It still does not mean the Phillies should ignore a talent pool that produces about one third of major leaguers these days. If they did catch Gonzalez and Silva it is actually a good thing as the team did their homework and did not waste money. Now they just need to go spend that money on a shortstop prospect.

    1. Exactly. USCIS is pretty good about checking docs these days. Its still possible to fake them but its not nearly as easy as it used to be.

  12. never meant to ignore pool. Just was talking one day how you just dont know if these kids are 18 or 23 and got rip on here , saying it doesnt happen anymore. just making the point it does, but you cant ignore the area, just have to be real careful.

  13. Gonzalez and Silva played a full season in liga paralela, also in instructional league by reports on here, but maybe the age thing was discovered after these events, as maybe discoveries are made after signing as in the likely case of Nevri/Witer Jimenez. But if the reports above say that the report was in the comments section maybe it was just some trouble maker.
    In VSL report, note that Eduards Tolo and Jose Martinez have been released (see MiLB.com status on player pages) Also , through the offseason: Alexis Salazar, Rosmer Nunez, Luis Martinez, Jose Hernandez, and Kirlian Campo.
    In the DSL section: Alvaro Bacil also suspended for PED in addition to San Lazaro Solano. Also Rudney Balentien has been released.

    1. Seems odd–the BA article says that their contracts were not approved (as opposed to being voided) and bonuses were not paid (it was in the authored story on BA, not the comments). I’d think that if they played in any league under the Phillies guidance, they would have had to subsequently sign some kind of contract.

      1. The Venezuelan Liga Paralela is a winter minor league that is probably the equivalent of a college summer league here. The Phillies field a team that is a mix of some of our own prospects plus a number of players they are trying out or from other organizations. There are many instances of unsigned players in this league, as well as Phillies prospects playing for other teams. All the teams in the Venezuelan major winter league have minor league teams as well, and better Venezuelan Phillies prospects are usually drafted by one of these teams.

        Silva and Gonzalez could easily have played without signing. Though it is also possible they signed for a reduced bonus – and are consequently lesser prospects.

        1. Yeah, but the pictures I saw included the rest of the U.S. prospects at the FIL, so it was here. Still waiting for BA to do their NL East writeup.

  14. “But if the reports above say that the report was in the comments section maybe it was just some trouble maker.”

    You’ll find out today, as BA covers the National League East signings (the orginal reference came from BA anyway).

  15. Speaking of visa problems anyone see that Yohan Flande was delayed coming to braves camp by visa problems in the DR.

  16. It may have been missed dept.:
    New additions to rosters on MiLB.com:
    VSL-
    They have a Gustavo Gonzalez (sounds like Anderson reputed to be) SS,6’2 in height (check) listed as 0 pounds, should be heavier. Date of birth is listed as 1-23-91. So , if that;s the old Anderson, if you are going to falsify your age, might as well make it a whopper.
    Also Francisco (the new Pancho?) Herrara, 3B,9-15-93, 5’11 185
    SS- Jair Morelos, Left Handed Hitter, Colombian,(seen news of signing some time back, played OF in Liga Paralela) 2-2-94, 5’10 150
    OF – Alejandro Garcia 7-22-94, 6’3 150
    C- Wilson Garcia (Switch Hitter) 1-11-94, 5’11 160
    C- Frank Rivas , 7-17-94, 5’11 150
    Don’t see any new pitcher signings in VSL.

    DSL-
    SS- Jairo Cardozo (Switch Hitter) 1-27-94, 5’11 160
    RHP- Ulises Joaquin. 6-11-92, 5’11 165
    LHP- Franklyn Vargas (sounds like the announced on here Franklyn Zuvala- looks like somebody listed his mother’s maiden name as surname, happens alot- in San Diego the Cabrillo National Monument should really be the Rodriguez National Monument) 8-21-94, 6’4 205

    That’s all I see.

  17. Division summary is up. Conlin neglected to include 16 y.o. Franklyn Vargas in the Phil’s 2014 rotation.

  18. Hi, does anyone here know some more info about Witer (Nevri) Jimenez and Carlos Valenzuela, playing now GCL. Maybe they have chance to change for Williamsport or Cutters?? How are they playing now? thanks

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