Because Francisco Morales hasn't pitched in the minors yet, there isn't near as much scouting information on him as there is on other players. Because of that, this is an abbreviated scouting report from what we normally provide on young players. We'll be sure to keep our readers updated on Morales' progress throughout the season.
Francisco Morales hasn't thrown a pitch in a professional league, but he comes with a strong resume after signing with the Phillies for $900-thousand as in international free agent last July. Baseball America had Morales ranked as the 12th best international prospect, while MLB.com had him ranked as the 16th best prospect on the international market.
The first thing that scouts talk about with Morales is his fastball, which he already can crank up to 96 when his mechanics are on. The norm for the pitch is more around the 94 mark, which still isn't bad. The 16-year old right-hander also throws a curve and a change, but for now, it's all about the heater. At this point, the change-up is the pitch that has the most development behind it, but long-term, most believe that the curveball could become a close number-two to the fastball, if he continues to develop the pitch and can throw it with consistency.
Morales has a nice, big frame - he's 6' 5" - and uses that size to his advantage, driving forward and downward on his delivery. A lot of young pitchers though struggle to stay consistent with their mechanics and that's the case with Morales. He sometimes gets a little laze and loses his drive and can also drop his arm slot just a tick, which instantly drops his velocity and command.
It's hard to gauge just how good Morales is going to be, which helps to account for his ranking. Since he hasn't pitched in a professional league, there really isn't much to judge him on, but we do know that he has all of the tools to be a good pitcher. Unfortunately, baseball - and Phillies signings and draft picks - have plenty of tools that did them no good when they looked to move up the ladder, so we're erring on the side of caution when it comes to Morales.
The Phillies thought enough of Morales to bring him in for the Florida Instructional League, so it's likely that they'll have him in the states for the 2017 season, most likely in the Gulf Coast League.
For what it's worth, the Phillies invested pretty heavily in Venezuela this year. While Morales is the most notable, they signed four other Venezuelan prospects, including shortstop Brayan Gonzalez, who ranked 26th on the MLB.com list of international prospects.The Phillies signed two other Venezuelan shortstops - Nicolas Torres and Jose Tortelero - and catcher Juan Apiricio to contracts last July.