2019-20 MLB International Reviews: Philadelphia Phillies
It's been an unusual year for the Phillies in Latin America.
They haven't signed anyone for more than a $350,000 bonus, but that's because the top player they were expected to sign on July 2 became ineligible to sign. Venezuelan Yhoswar Garcia, whose nickname is "The Drone," was declared ineligible to sign by Major League Baseball due to an issue with his age. Garcia is now using a Sept. 13, 2001 date of birth that would make him 18, one year older than he had previously presented, and he will be eligible to sign in March. The Phillies are expected to sign him then for around the same price point as before, commensurate with one of the top players in the class. He's a lean 6-foot-1, 155 pound and an outstanding athlete with plus-plus speed in center field. He trains with Roberto Vahlis.
Perhaps the best player in the Phillies 2019-20 class right now is 17-year-old Dominican righthander Jean Hernandez, who signed for $300,000 out of the Mejia Top 10 program. As he has gotten stronger over the past year and especially the last few months, Hernandez (6-foot-1, 185 pounds) has seen his velocity bump a tick since signing, with his fastball reaching 93 mph. He pairs it with feel for spinning a curveball and good pitchability for his age.
Until they sign Garcia, the Phillies' top bonus for the 2019-20 international signing period belongs to Randy Vasquez, a 16-year-old Dominican shortstop who signed for $350,000. He's 6 feet, 170 pounds and drew the Phillies attention because of his righthanded swing and offensive ability, with a line-drive approach and gap power. He's an average runner with a 55 arm on the 20-80 scale, with enough defense to have a chance to stick at shortstop unless he physically outgrows the position. Vasquez trained with Juan Rodriguez.
Another 16-year-old infielder, Jehisbert Sevilla, signed with the Phillies out of Venezuela after training with Alexi Quiroz An offensive-oriented player who likely flips over to second base, Sevilla has been one of the Phillies' top performers in unofficial games since signing between the summer and Dominican instructional league. He's a slender 6 feet, 150 pounds with a relatively simple stroke from the right side, spraying line drives around the field with occasional doubles and a tick above-average speed.
Jackie Pertuz, a 17-year-old catcher and cousin of Cubs infielder Fabian Pertuz, signed for $200,000 out of Colombia after training with Orlando Cabrera. Pertuz (6 feet, 190 pounds) is an offensive-oriented catcher, with a lefthanded swing that can get big at times, but he has a chance to hit and drives the ball well for a catcher his age. Pertuz has a below-average arm and his defense will need more work to stay behind the plate.
Jose Colmenarez is a Venezuelan catcher the Phillies signed on July 2. Colmenarez impressed the Phillies with his righthanded bat, with a line-drive stroke and gap power, with his offense ahead of his catch-and-throw skills behind the plate, where he has a 45 arm.
Before July 2, the Phillies spent more than $1 million on prospects in June before the buzzer ended on the 2018-19 signing period. That includes $850,000 for Australian righthander Josh Gessner, who passed on a Tulane commitment to join the Phillies. He went to the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League as a 19-year-old and posted a 2.84 ERA with a 17-7 K-BB mark in 12.2 innings. Gessner (6-foot-1, 205 pounds) sits in the low-90s and has reached 94 mph, pairing it with a slider that earns average to above-average grades when it's at his best. He's an intelligent pitcher and a student of the game, though he might need to tighten his control as he moves up.
The Phillies made another significant signing in June when they gave $210,000 to Samuel Aldegheri, a lefty from Italy. Aldegheri, 18, didn't pitch after signing, but he did come over to Florida for instructional league. He has a relatively mature, thicker frame listed at 6-foot-1, 180 pounds, and while he doesn't project to be a power arm, he throws strikes with a fastball up to 91 mph and has shown feel for spin on a breaking ball.