Part of earning the top pick in the draft in 2016 the Philadelphia Phillies also received a bonus pool for signing international players that gave them over 5.6 million to spend. On Saturday they used a lot of that money – though none of the $ figures can be confirmed at this time – signing 6 players all from Venezuela, including four of the top 50 Baseball America ranked players per reports.
Tops in that group was hard throwing 6′ 5″ RHP Francisco Morales, ranked # 12. He is considered his country’s top hurler, w/ a fastball that reportedly tops 96 MPH. The Phillies who have been watching Morales for a few years signed him for $9000,000 per MLB.Com. They also signed two of Venezuela’s top infielders in shortstops Brayan Gonzalez, (19, $800,000) and Nicolas Torres (45, $665,000). Gonzales is a switch hitter who is often compared to ex-Phillie Placido Polanco, while Torres is a speedy lead-off type hitter. Catcher Juan Aparicio (47, $475,000), and unranked shortstops Jose Tortolero ($450,000) and Luigi Mujica were picked as well. Of course everybody wants to play shortstop, so these players if they do develop, will most likely be looked at for other positions as well. These International prospects are all in their mid-teens so it will be awhile before we can tell if they pan out, but it is another step in the continuing build for the future for the Phillies.
It should be no surprise that the Phils picked up so many Venezuelans, as they are one of the few teams that still has an academy in that country, and the have used eight players from there in their organization this season.
According to sources the Phillies unofficially have signed another Venezuelan teen in outfielder Simon Muzziotti for a reported $750,000. He had previously signed with the Red Sox but was ruled a free agent by MLB when the league punished the Red Sox last week for violating the rules of the international bonus pool system. He is said to be similar to 1st overall draft pick Mickey Moniak. Overall the Phillies signed over a dozen Latin American teens this signing period.