On Tuesday night Baseball America’s Ben Baldler tweeted out that he would be “shocked” if the Phillies failed to sign Dominican prospect Luis Encarnacion. Encarnacion turns 16 on Friday and will be eligible to sign with major league teams. Encarnacion would be a major signing for the Phillies, who have never really spent a ton of money on the international market. To sign the teenager the Phillies will have to give him over a million dollar bonus. The Phillies entered the international market with $2,289,700 to spend on players. They had been pretty quiet, as usual, with their big signing being a projected right fielder named Bryan Martelo for $230,000.
Encarnacion is ranked as the #4 ranked international prospect by Baseball America, and the #12 ranked prospect by MLB.Com. Encarnacion is currently listed as a third basemen, but he may grow out of that position. He has raw power that scouts love, and is said to be able to spray the ball around the field.
The impending signing of Luis Encarnacion is another sign that the Phillies are changing their philosophy on spending money in the international market. After years of trading away their top prospects the Phillies desperately need to retool their system. For years the Phillies only looked to the draft to retool their system, but that appears to be changing.
Yahoo.com's Jeff Passan reported on July 28th that the Phillies were going to sign 26 year old Cuban defector Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez to a six year deal for $48 million dollars. Gonzalez is the latest Cuban sensation to leave Cuba for professional stardom in the states. The Phillies, who had been rumored to be in on such Cuban stars such as Yoenis Cespedes, and Jorge Soler, were never mentioned as true contenders for Alfredo Gonzalez’ services. Because of Gonzalez’ age the $48 million would not count against the Phillies international bonus money.
Unfortunately MLB.Com’s Phillies reporter Todd Zolecki reported on Tuesday night that Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez might never suit up for the Phillies due to a snag in the negotiations. Alfredo Gonzalez had bone spurs removed from his million dollar elbow two years ago and his past elbow problems have the Phillies concerned. A breakdown between a million dollar international signing and a team willing to spend it aren’t uncommon. In 2009 the Cardinals voided the contract over Dominican teenager Wagner Mateo due to preexisting physical defects. Mateo was originally signed for $3.1 million.
While the international market is even more of a crap shoot then the MLB Draft (mainly due to the fact that these kids are signing when they are 16 years old) the fact that the Phillies could possibly become big spenders in it is a fantastic sign. Even if the Phillies decide to pass on Alfredo Gonzalez, the fact that they had outbid the likes of the Red Sox is a sign that the Phillies could possibly be true contenders on the international market.