The Phillies came into the international signing period with $5,610,800 to spend and wasted little time writing out checks, as they signed six young players on day one. Since then, they've signed a few more prospects, including outfielder Simon Muzziotti, who was originally signed a year ago by the Boston Red Sox.
Muzziotti, 17, was signed by Boston last year, but as part of Major League Baseball's punishment of the Red Sox violation of the international bonus pool rules, Muzziotti was declared a free agent. Last season, Muzziotti was the 24th best prospect in the international class, but some experts believe that he wouldn't have quite cracked the top 25 this year. The Phillies signed Muzziotti for $750-thousand, but will only take a $450-thousand hit to their bonus pool, because Major League Baseball ruled that the first $300-thousand given to any players originally signed by Boston would not count against their pool.
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.
All of the prospects signed by the Phillies thus far have come from Venezuela, which has already produced a number of current Phillies, including Andres Blanco, Freddy Galvis, Cesar Hernandez and Odubel Herrera, The international signing period ends on June 15, 2017.