A 6’4″ 175 lbs. corner outfielder is now $540,000 richer after signing with the Phillies according to Baseball America’s Prospects Blog. Sixteen year old Dominican, Jose Pujols was signed just before the new rules limiting the signing process for international players went into effect today. He is the 20th ranked international prospect by BA. Looks like to me he is taking the place of the departed Domingo Santana who was traded to the Astros in the Hunter Pence deal. Though I must admit when I first saw Santana as a 16 year old at the Carpenter Complex several years ago he had already grown into his body.
No word yet but it’s likely Pujols will report to the Carpenter Complex to workout with the GCL Phillies and another big 16 year old international signing from last summer Venezuelan centerfielder Carlos Tocci. On Saturday morning Tocci was found working out on Roberts Field with the players not scheduled to play in the GCL game being played on the adjacent Carlton Field. In today’s game Tocci made his GCL debut and singled to right in his first at bat and struck out swinging in his second at bat before leaving the game.
The Phillies also added for $575,000 a 16 year old, 5′ 10 175 lbs. catcher from the Dominican, Deivi Grullen. He is the 15th ranked international prospect according to Baseball America. With Grullen, Pujols and Tocci they should soon be able to field a good teener league team.
Baseball Betsy and I were up early Saturday morning to catch another GCL game. Roly de Armas’s guys took on the GCL Tigers. The light hitting Phillies lost again 1-0. They fell to 2-8, the worst record in the 14 team league. Most of the Latin players have yet to adapt to the GCL pitching. Of them only catcher and Chooch look-a-like Willians Astudillo has mastered the GCL pitching hitting .423. The rest of them are struggling to square up the ball. For example Aruban centerfielder Jiandido Throp has started off 2 for 25 with 12 strike outs. But it is still early in the season. As one more experienced player told me some of these teenagers are just seeing good off speed pitching for the first time.
Of the American players high draft pick Dylan Cozens is hitting .300 and has hit for the cycle over eight games with a double, triple and a home run. He likes the high heat as he struck out swinging in one of his at bats on a fastball around his eyes in the game on Saturday. In today’s game he hit his second GCL home run. Got my first looks at Zach Green who player third in a game on Thursday and William Carmona who played first on Saturday. Liked their size and the way they were swinging the bat. Green did not seem quick in fielding at third and already leads the team in errors with three in his first three games. Of the pitchers starter Manaure Martinez is the ace of the staff averaging a strike out an inning while Keivi Rojas is the best reliever striking out 11 and walking only one in eight innings.
Watching GCL games give you a good prospective of the young international players in the organization. The Phillies have players from Aruba, Columbia, Mexico, Venezuela, the Dominican Republic, Australia and Canada on the GCL roster. In Saturday’s game five of the 10 in the starting lineup were from the USA.
Also on Saturday morning we saw two rehabbing Phillies prospects at the Complex, pitcher Justin DeFratus and Lehigh Valley outfielder Derrick Mitchell. Both are battling back from injuries after having breakout years. DeFratus was a September call up with Phillies last year. In Mitchell’s last weekend with AAA Lehigh Valley several weeks back, he had a break out day hitting a grand slam and driving in eight runs in a doubleheader only to go down the next day with a hit by pitch broken hand. Let’s hope both of them can finish strong in the last month or so of the season. It’s frustrating that all three of the top young Phillies outfield prospects, Tyson Gillies, Domonic Brown and Mitchell are currently on the Disabled List.
To me the highlight of Saturday’s baseball in Clearwater was Saturday night at Bright House watching Jesse Biddle and Tyler Knigge pitch. No, the Threshers did not win but that’s many times not the point of development minor league baseball. Biddle struggled early on but settled down and dominate the last two innings with his off speed pitches. Though he left with the lead he was not involved in the decision but did earn one of my favorite pitcher’s stat, a quality start. To earn a quality start a pitcher must go at least six innings and give up no more than three runs which was Jesse’s line. Knigge came on in the ninth with the Treshers trailing and while facing his final batter, set him up with a mid 90’s strike two fastball and struck out the batter swinging with a slider that broke down in the dirt just after crossing the plate at the knees. Reminded me of a Brad Lidge strike out circa 2008.
This Saturday’s baseball in Clearwater taught us a lot about the future of the Phillies but the big unknown is just who is this 16 year old Pujols guy and can he grow in to his 6’4″ 175 lbs. body to be a major league corner outfielder someday. We will see.