2020-21 MLB International Reviews: Philadelphia Phillies
The Phillies international scouting department signed the top pitching prospect in baseball, Sixto Sanchez, for $35,000 in 2015. In recent years, they've consistently added quality catchers from Venezuela, including Rafael Marchan and Andrick Nava, and they signed another one to lead their 2020-21 international class.
Top Of The Class
The top player the Phillies signed was Rickardo Perez, one of the top catchers available. Perez trained with Yasser Mendez, whose Venezuelan program has produced several recent Phillies signings, including righthander Francisco Morales, the organization's No. 4 prospect. Early on, Perez had a smaller, slightly built frame with a good lefthanded swing, with his stock rising since then as he has grown taller and stronger. He's 6-foot-1, 165 pounds with a smooth, fluid stroke and a knack for barreling balls in games. Perez stays balanced throughout his swing, helping him use the whole field in games. Between his bat control and ability to generate loft, he has a chance to grow into average or better power as he fills out. Perez should be able to stick behind the plate with solid catch-and-throw skills. His throwing was a liability early on, but he has now developed an average arm.
The biggest bonus in Philadelphia's class went to Yemal Flores, a Dominican outfielder who got $1.3 million after training with Jaime Ramos. Flores has a stocky, strong build (6-foot-1, 170 pounds), and stands out for his strength and raw power. Flores has the strength and bat speed to drive the ball out of the park in batting practice with loft and backspin, but he will have to cut down on his swing-and-miss tendencies against live pitching. He runs surprisingly well for his size with average speed underway, though with his body type he will probably slow down. He fits in a corner outfield spot with a strong arm for right field.
Raylin Heredia, OF, Dominican Republic: A center fielder who trained with Niche, Heredia has a chance for 50- to 55-grade tools across the board. He's a center fielder with slightly above-average speed, solid-average arm strength and good defensive instincts for his age. Scouts highest on Heredia like his hitting ability and approach and feel he has a chance to grow into average power from the right side.
Leonardo Rondon, SS, Venezuela: Rondon is a smaller, thin-framed middle infielder whose best tool is his bat. He's mostly a line-drive hitter who sprays the ball around the field, though he has shown some sneaky pop for his size with occasional over-the-fence pull power. Rondon, who had been training as a catcher before moving to shortstop, will probably move over to second base.
Marco Soto, SS, Venezuela: Soto doesn't have one standout tool, but he's a steady, sound defender at shortstop with good hands and arm strength that give him a strong chance to stick at the position. He's a line-drive hitter with occasional doubles pop who doesn't project to hit for much power. Soto trained with Carlos Rios.
Juan Melendez, RHP, Venezuela: Melendez is a tall, projectable righthander who has room to grow his fastball, which has been up to 90 mph. He shows good feel for a breaking ball for his age.
Venezuelan shortstop Yoangel Ramos has a long, lanky 6-foot-3 frame with high physical upside. He has shown some promising signs with his hitting ability early on, with good hands and an average arm that give him a chance to stick at shortstop, though depending on his physical development he could end up at third base.