There really is no bigger boom or bust day in professional sports than the opening of baseball’s international signing period on July 2. Starting tomorrow teams will sign 16 year olds to contracts for hundreds of thousands of dollars hoping they have found the kid with superstar potential. Many won’t get past complex league, others will change body shape too much, more will fail to go from showcase player to baseball player, but some will emerge as real prospects. The amount of ways to bring talent into your system are finite and the international signing period remains one of the most exploitable.
The Phillies have been more aggressive in recent years signing three “top” players in 2012 in RF Jose Pujols, C Deivi Grullon, and RHP Lewis Alezones, in addition to 100k+ signees Gregori Rivero and Wilker Isavas. While they may not sign the top player available they certainly will spend close to their allotted slot money on guys more in the 50k-200k range.
Speaking of slot money the Phillies have $2,289,700 to spend on players. There are various exceptions for lower money signings but they are not relevant to the July 2 discussion. The Phillies will not spend over this amount and you can complain all you want about it, but it is not going to happen. That is probably enough to sign one top player and another 2 of the next tier (the fringes of top prospect list guys). This also means the Phillies are likely out on many of the bigger names that they are not already linked to as teams like the Red Sox (3.17 million) and Cub (4.55 million) who are both aggressive, have a lot more money to spend.
I am not going to give any scouting reports or lists of players because it would be a poor impression of others. If you want scouting reports and player signing predictions (the Phillies are really only linked to Luis Encarnacion) go here http://www.baseballamerica.com/international/ Ben Badler does a great job.
Don’t Panic on July 3: The Phillies long rumored top target is Dominican 3B Luis Encarnacion. While he may not stick at 3B long term the bat shows good in-game contact and current plus power. Encarnacion is currently only 15 and won’t be eligible to sing until August 9 (much like Carlos Tocci in 2011).