2023 International Reviews: Philadelphia Phillies

Philadelphia’s top international signing from 2022, shortstop William Bergolla Jr., hit .380/.470/.423 with just three strikeouts in 83 plate appearances last year in the Dominican Summer League. Catcher Rickardo Perez, one of the organization’s big international signings from 2021, hit .349/.387/.398 in 93 plate appearances last year in the Rookie-level Florida Complex League. This year the Phillies signed another prominent prospect who should have a smooth transition into pro ball, along with several other names to know.

Top Of The Class

The Phillies added one of the premium shortstops available this year in Starlyn Caba, who signed for $3 million out of the Dominican Republic. Caba, 17, is a stellar defensive shortstop for his age. He has a great first step and outstanding quickness at shortstop. He’s a springy athlete with plus speed who moves his feet well at shortstop. He can make throws going in different directions with a tick above-average arm that could develop into another plus tool. His instincts and internal clock give him a chance to become a plus defender, with some scouts thinking his fielding could ultimately grade out even higher. At 5-foot-10, 160 pounds, Caba isn’t that big and doesn’t project to be a big power threat, but he has the offensive skill set that could potentially fit toward the top of a lineup. He’s a switch-hitter who tracks pitches well and makes contact at a high clip from both sides of the plate. Caba’s bat-to-ball skills are a little more advanced from the right side with more of a power-hitting approach from the left side. He has some sneaky pop and strength for his size, with a chance to hit 15-20 home runs, but it will likely always be a hit-over-power profile. At times he gets too uphill trying to manufacture power, but he’s at his best when he maintains his more contact-oriented approach. 

Names To Know

Wen Hui Pan, RHP, Taiwan: A 20-year-old righthander signed for $350,000, Pan is 6-foot-3, 220 pounds and quickly caught the attention of pro scouts who saw him in spring training. He can run his fastball up to 99 mph, sitting in the mid 90s in short bursts with late life up in the zone that helps him miss bats when he elevates. Pan’s best secondary pitch is his splitter, an average pitch with projection for more with late tumble. He’s still developing a reliable breaking ball, with a slider that flashes fringe-average on occasion. He should develop as a starter and has a chance to continue in that role if his third pitch improves, though some scouts see him as a future power arm out of the bullpen. 

Jaeden Calderon, OF/C, Dominican Republic: Born in Florida but signed out of the Dominican Republic after living there the last several years, Calderon trained as a corner outfielder but is in the process of converting to catcher. He caught a little bit before signing with the Phillies for $150,000, but he’s still in the early stages of learning the position. He’s a thickly-built 6-foot-1, 210 pounds at 17 with impressive bat speed from the right side of the plate and flashes of solid-average raw power. 

Luis Martinez, LHP, Dominican Republic: Martinez, 17, is 6 feet, 215 pounds, a stout lefty who has good arm action, a fastball that has been up to 91 mph and he’s shown feel to spin a breaking ball. He signed for $150,000. 

Angel Liranzo, LHP, Dominican Republic: Liranzo turns 17 on Aug. 5, so he is one of the younger players in this year’s class, signing for $145,000. He has a thin frame (6-foot-1, 170 pounds) with loose arm action and a lot more projection to add to a fastball that has touched 90 mph. Some scouts think his best pitch is his curveball, which he shows good feel to spin for his age.

Renair Manrique, SS, Venezuela: Manrique, 17, is one of the best hitters the Phillies signed this year. He’s a 6-foot, 175-pound switch-hitter with a mature offensive approach for his age, showing a good mix of strength and barrel awareness with deep alleys power. Signed for $100,000, Manrique could continue to develop as a shortstop, though his range might ultimately fit better at second or third base. 

Esterling Rodriguez, OF, Dominican Republic: Signed for $100,000, Rodriguez is 6-foot-2, 155 pounds with a long, lean build that lacks strength, but he already has a fluid, low-effort swing from the left side with gap power that could take off once he packs on more weight. He’s a slightly above-average runner with an average arm who likely fits in an outfield corner.

Sleeper Watch

Panamanian catcher Eduardo Tait, who signed for just $90,000, has shown a promising offensive skill set. He is still 16 until Aug. 27, so had he been born five days later, he wouldn’t have been eligible to sign until 2024, making him one of the youngest players signed this year. He’s 6 feet, 175 pounds and has shown a knack for barreling the ball from the right side against older competition. He has good rhythm in his swing, uses his hands well and has a knack for being on time. Tait is an offensive-oriented catcher with a mature hitting approach for his age, driving the ball with gap power and occasional over-the-fence juice to his pull side. 

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