2017 DSL Phillies (Red and White) Season Preview
Even though their major league team is much improved (or looked like it would be), the future of the Phillies rests in their minor leagues. Not every prospect will come up to help the major league team, some will be traded, and some will stumble along the way. Today we continue Crashburn’s preview of the minor league system with the two DSL teams. The goal is to give a quick overview of the team and the top prospects.
For American fans, it is difficult to obtain consistent reports of complex leagues like the GCL. For the Dominican Summer League, there are no reports, there are only box scores. Occasionally there are one liners that trickle out through people like Ben Badler of Baseball America. For the most part we won’t know too much about players until they show up stateside. In this preview I am going to be heavily reliant on Badler’s work. You can read his full writeup of the Phillies’ signing period here.
Because of Jhailyn Ortiz’s giant bonus, last year the Phillies had four prospects of note between their two teams (they signed a 5th in OF Simon Muzziotti after MLB punished the Red Sox). Two of those, SS Jonathan Guzman and C Rafael Marchan, took steps forward, with Guzman establishing himself as one of the top breakout prospects in the system. This past year, the Phillies had the largest international signing bonus pool. They didn’t end up spending the most, but they did spend all of their over $5.6 million pool. The Phillies also did not give any bonuses over $1M, instead they gave over $400,000 to 7 different players with significant bonuses to even more than that. Most of the Phillies signings came from Venezuela, but other countries have representation, with the Phillies returning a pair of Italian pitchers to their DSL rosters. While we might be reduced to scanning box scores, there are plenty of interesting players to watch for everyday.
Prospects to watch:
Outside of just listing whoever got the highest bonus as the best prospect, I wanted to highlight the players that Ben has with more than $100,000 bonuses, as well as some other players of interest. Of note this year is that the Phillies have replaced DSL Phillies1 and DSL Phillies2 with Phillies Red and Phillies White respectively.
Christian Valerio ($85,000) is listed as being born in Philadelphia, but beyond that he has good size, and Badler thinks he has the chance to stick at shortstop. Additionally, the Phillies like Valerio enough to bring him stateside for Spring Training this year. In the first game of the year, Valerio’s double play partner was second baseman Luiggi Mujica ($350,000). Like most infielders, Mujica started at short, but his arm forced him to second base. Mujica is skinny and will need to get stronger. He did not have an extra base hit in his time in winter ball (Liga Paralela). Joining them on the infield will be third baseman Luis Rojas ($150,000). Badler notes that the Phillies were going to put Rojas behind the plate, but he was playing third base on opening day. In the outfield, the Red Team will have aptly named Maximo de la Rosa ($150,000), who is listed at 6’2” 205 and won’t turn 18 until September. He played first base in the first game, which is a trend worth watching. As you could guess based on the size, power is his calling card. The Phillies brought RHP Victor Santos ($150,000) stateside this spring, and his profile sounds like a lot of players the Phillies have had success with. He is 6’1” with a loose arm that Badler has up to 92. He was the opening day starter and allowed 4 runs while walking 3 with no strikeouts. I don’t have anything on Leonel Aponte, but the Phillies brought him stateside after a solid 2016, and his measurements (6’4” 144lbs) scream projection. The DSL Red Team features two Italians, RHPs Ludovico Coveri and Alessandro Ciarla. Both are making their second attempt at the DSL.
Behind the plate for what was formerly DSL Phillies2 will be Juan Aparicio ($475,000). Aparicio is similar to Rafael Marchan, who the Phillies signed the year before. Both are good hitting converted infielders with questions about their power and ability to stick at catcher. Up the middle, the White team will have a pair of decent money players. The calling card for second baseman Nicolas Torres ($665,000) is his plus plus speed. The report on Torres is that he is athletic enough for shortstop, but his arm pushes him to second, and he might be able to handle center field if he can’t stick in the infield. Shortstop Jose Tortolero ($450,000) has a better arm, but Badler thinks that his body could fill out enough to hinder his range and force him to second or third. The Phillies also gave a good size bonus to OF Raymond Mora ($400,000). Badler notes that the Phillies like his hit tool, but that his position is in doubt. He is listed as an outfielder and played left field in his first game of action. Juan Herrera ($100,000) will man third, and his 6’3” 165lb frame indicates that he has plenty of room to fill out.
What that means for stateside:
In addition to Simon Muzziotti, who spent the whole year in the DSL, the Phillies are bringing their top 2 July 2 signings stateside. Brayan Gonzalez doesn’t have the raw tools of Arquimedes Gamboa, but he has a plus arm and a great feel for the game, and he should be the everyday shortstop for the GCL Phillies. RHP Francisco Morales was the best 16 year old pitcher available last summer. His fastball sits in the low 90s and has touched up to 96. He flashes a plus slider and some feel for a changeup. He has the frame to fill out more, and he will be one of the top prospects to watch in the GCL this year. In addition to last year’s signings, 2B Keudy Bocio, SS Jonathan Guzman, and C Rafael Marchan will all be looking for at bats in short season ball this year.
As exciting as some of this sounds, I would caution making any big sweeping judgements on DSL stat lines. Many top prospects are 16 and 17 years old and they are playing against 18 and 19 year olds. It is hard to split truth from fiction, but each year we see a player start their breakout in the DSL, so keep checking back.