Phillies Sign Top Latin American Pitching Prospect as International Market Opens

The Phillies signed more than a dozen Latin American teens when baseball’s international signing period for 16-year-olds opened on Saturday.

Among the group is Francisco Morales, a 6-5 right-hander from Venezuela. He was rated as the 12th-best eligible Latin American prospect and the top pitcher by Baseball America. The Phillies signed him for $720,000, according to major-league sources.

In all, the Phillies signed four players who were rated in the top 50 by Baseball America.

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Here’s a look at the top players that Phillies signed on Saturday:

Francisco Morales, RHP, Venezuela A 6-5 right-hander with a plus slider and a fastball that ranges from 91-95 mph. Ranked the No. 1 pitcher and 12th overall prospect by Baseball America. He signed for $720,000.

Bryan Gonzalez, SS 2B, Venezuela – The strong-armed switch-hitter has a line-drive stroke and reminds some of Placido Polanco. Ranked 19th by Baseball America. He signed for $900,000.

Nicolas Torres, SS, Venezuela – Leadoff type hitter with good wheels. Ranked 45th by Baseball America. He signed for $665,000.

Juan Aparicio, C, Venezuela – He played third base in national competition, but is changing positions and projects as an offensive-type catcher. He was ranked 47th by Baseball America. He signed for $475,000.

Jose Tortolero, SS, Venezuela — He shows an average big-league arm and has excellent hitting tools. He signed for $450,000.

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