May 28th is the beginning of the new Dominican Summer League season, bringing to six the number of Phillies minor league affiliates currently playing. The Phillies play in the Boca Chica South division. In 2010 the Phillies finished in 3rd place with a 43-29 record. The team was a little older than the league average so it is hard to tell how many prospects will emerge from that squad. One note – a couple of players from that team (pitchers Marcos Coca and Daniel De La Cruz) did test positive for banned stimulants and will sit out 50 games this season, the lion’s part of the 72-game Dominican schedule.
The 2011 roster is still very much a work in progress. The roster transactions do note that several players (Carlos Valenzuela, Gabriel Arias, Carlos Best) have been added to the GCL roster. In addition it is very possible that Franklyn Vargas, the Phillies most high profile signee from last year in Latin America, will also play at GCL. For the moment, however, he is listed on the DSL roster.
New players on the roster include the following:
Franklyn Vargas - LHP (6'4", 205) - age 16 (turns 17 in August) Ulises Joaquin - RHP (5'11", 165) - age 19 in June Jairo Cardozo - SS (5'11", 160) - age 17 from Colombia Fernando Rios - 2B (6'0", 175) - age 18 (19 in August) from Panama
Expect several additional new players on the rosters by Monday once the first couple game results have been posted. We will check in on both the VSL and DSL teams after the first few weeks of games have been played to highlight the players worth watching over the course of the season. In general the better prospects will be the younger players who get regular playing time. For instance the early performances of VSL shortstop Jair Morelos and 1B/C Wilson Garcia have been encouraging, both for the good performances and the facts that they are playing regularly at age 17.
The other roster aspect to note is that it looks like the Phillies are being more aggressive in signing players from both Colombia and Panama. Both the VSL and DSL teams might have starting shortstops from Colombia and each team has also added a Panamanian player in recent weeks (thanks to Chooch?). Next up – early season VSL update.