Phillies Sign a Slew of International Amateur Free Agents

Inside The Phillies
Inside The Phillies

The Phillies began the International Amateur Free Agent signing period with a blast, nabbing 14 young, Latin American prospects in the first days alone.

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Jan. 15 was the coldest day of the year in Philadelphia. With no end to the lockout in sight, the immediate future seems bleak for Major League Baseball in 2022. But despite the cold and the lockout, the Phillies have lit embers in the hot stove and brightened the future with a cascade of international signings Saturday and Sunday morning.

Their first and only widely publicized acquisition was the signing of shortstop William Bergolla Jr. out of Venezuela for $2.2 million, MLB’s #4 international prospect and son of former Reds second baseman William Bergolla.

This signing expended 43% of the Phillies international amateur slot money. Thus, Philadelphia was more deft in their other ventures in Latin America this weekend. Not one of Baseball America’s 12 other reported Phillies signings were in MLB’s top 50.

Therefore scouting data is almost unheard of for these players. They’ve likely only been seen by Phillies scouts and perhaps a few others looking for talent around the margins. However, projecting teenagers isn’t exactly straightforward, e.g. Mickey Moniak, Cornelius Randolph, Mark Appel, etc.

However, plenty of high-end talent has come from the back end of international signing periods. Most recently for the Phillies, Ranger Suárez was signed for a bonus of $25,000 in 2012 at age 16. On a more global scale, Ronald Acuña Jr. was signed for a bonus of only $100,000 in 2014.

Diamonds in the rough in international signings aren't just hoped for, they are expected. That being said, expect to see some of these names from the Phillies' 2022 international amateur free agent class on the Phillies one day: SS Aroon Escobar - Venezuela, OF Romel Perez - Venezuela, SS Leny Carela - Dominican Republic, OF Neifi Rosario - Dominican Republic, C Angel Mata - Venezuela, LHP Eduar Chirinos - Venezuela, SS Nolan Beltran - Colombia, RHP Luis Gonzalez - Venezuela, SS Juan Villavincencio - Venezuela, SS Kilwer Colmenares - Venezuela, OF Manolfi Jimenez - Dominican Republic, OF Romel Mendez - Venezuela, and SS Andres Hernandez - Venezuela.

While none of these reported signings are linked to official bonuses, rumored bonuses can be found on Twitter via Matt Winkelman.

None of the Phillies other signings have been linked to bonuses as of Sunday afternoon.

In recent years, the Phillies have had great successes with amateurs out of Venezuela, and it seems they aren’t trying to buck that trend. Including Bergolla Jr., nine of the Phillies' 14 reported signings are from Venezuela. Paths to the big club from there have already been paved by players like Suárez, Jorge Alfaro, César Hernández, Freddy Galvis, and others.

For the Phillies to have continued success, they must keep that pipeline open. Besides the draft, international amateur free agents are the only way of steadily acquiring young, dependable talent, a resource which the Phillies have not had in excess since the days of Pat Gillick.

If Dave Dombrowski can remedy that issue, he too could be remembered as fondly as the man who last brought a World Series to Philadelphia.

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