The Phillies came into the international signing period with $5,610,800 to spend. Their checkbook was out on day one, as they signed six young players, two of which are among the MLB.com top 30 international prospects. The haul includes four shortstops, a catcher and a right-handed pitcher, all from Venezuela.
So far, the top signee is right-hander Francisco Morales, the 16th best prospect according to MLB.com. Shortstop Bryan Gonzalez was ranked 26th by MLB.com. The Phillies gave Morales $900,000 and Gonzalez got $800,000 to sign. Also signed were shortstops Nicolas Torres, Jose Tortolero, and Luigi Mujica along with catcher Juan Aparicio.
Morales has a fastball that he has built up to 96 miles-per-hour, up from the low-90s readings he was getting less than a year ago. It's thought that his best pitch will wind up being his curveball, and he's also got a change that is rated at least as average. Scouts have loved his velocity and he's also impressed them with his control.
Gonzalez is a switch-hitter who hits to the gaps and has a good approach and discipline at the plate. His swing from the right side is ahead of his talents from the left side, but he's showing improvements. As a right-handed hitter, it's expected that he should be able to hit for average. Defensively, Gonzalez is solid, but not overly impressive. With extra work, his defense could become a stronger part of his game. Gonzalez can also play some second base and has drawn comparisons to Placido Polanco.
Torres reportedly signed for $665,000, Aparicio for $475,000, Tortolero for $450,000. No figures were available for Mujica's signing.
Torres has good speed and projects as a leadoff type hitter and Tortolero is known as having a strong bat, with decent defensive skills and a strong arm. Aparicio played some third base, but doesn't project to have the range to play infield professionally. His bat is strong, but he's behind on learning the mechanics of working behind the plate.
The international signing period ends on June 15, 2017.