For the second straight year the International signing period opened on January 15 because of the COVID pandemic and lasts until December 15th. Prior to last year, the signings started on July 2nd which gave its nickname – J2. With uncertainties regarding the next Collective Bargaining Agreement, it remains to be seen if the signing date will revert back to July or even how the International Free Agent market will look. That’s a whole other article with the ending to be determined once MLB and the MLBPA come to terms. For our purposes, let’s take a look at what the Phillies did during this signing period.
Philadelphia had a hard cap of $5,179,000 to spend on players. Bonuses of $10,000 or less are exempt from this pool amount. Team were previously allowed to trade draft cap space in previous years but, as with the signing date, that changed with the pandemic. Players eligible to be signed must have turned 16 before the agreement.
As a reminder, most of these kids are just that – kids. Some of them may not even come stateside to play and some may be out of baseball in a few years. It’s so difficult to project what they will or will not become but that’s what makes this fun – hitting on a late round pick. To put this into perspective – in 2015, the top rated international free agent outfielder was Eddy Julio Martinez, signed by the Chicago Cubs for $3,000,000. The 25th ranked outfielder was Juan Soto signed by the Nationals for half that cost.
Will any of these guys be the next Soto? Hey, you never know.
William Bergolla, Jr., SS, Venezuela
Bergolla’s father played briefly for the Cincinnati Reds in 2005 getting in 17 games during his major league career. Bergolla, Jr. currently has line-drive power and plays well defensively. He’s expected to grow into more power as he matures. The team thought so highly of Bergolla that they spent almost half of their cap allotment on him alone. He is the only player here that I’ve seen selected in the six recent FYPD drafts that I’ve been in, going as early as pick 34 in one league and as high as 98 in another. Bergolla is the only player the team signed that was in the top 50 on MLB.com’s International list coming in at the 4 spot.
— Ben Badler (@BenBadler) January 15, 2022
Aroon Escobar, 2B, Venezuela
So the Phillies (and 28 other teams) may have missed out on Ronald Acuna when he was a free agent but they were able to sign his cousin in Escobar. He is presently listed as a second baseman but the organization’s International Scouting Director, Sal Agostinelli, also mentioned he could move to shortstop or third base in the future.
Neify Rosario, OF, Dominican Republic
Rosario is a 17 year old signed out of Mata De Palma Baseball Academy in the Dominican Republic.
Nikau Pouaka-Grego, SS, Australia
A strong shortstop with power potential and also pitches. Could he be the next Shohei Ohtani?
Lou Helmig, OF, Germany
An 18 year old third generation ballplayer from Germany where his father, uncle and grandfather are all members of the German Baseball Hall of Fame. If I had to select a player not named Bergolla in a FYPD, Helmig would be my choice. He has a good feel for hitting with some power to him.
— WBSC ⚾🥎 (@WBSC) September 24, 2021
Angel Mata, C, Venezuela
The organization has had success in the past with developing catchers they signed during this period, such as Rafael Marchan, Abrahan Gutierrez and Andrick Nava, which bodes well for Mata’s future.
Romel Mendez, OF, Venezuela
Leny Carela, SS, Dominican Republic
Nolan Beltran, SS, Colombia
Manolfi Jimeneze, OF, Dominican Republic
Eduar Chirinos, LHP, Venezuela
Luis Gonzalez, LHP, Venezuela
Juan Villavicencio, SS, Venezuela
Kilwer Colmenares, OF, Venezuela
Andres Hernandez, SS, Venezuela
Enrique Segura, RHP, Dominican Republic
John Sosa, LHP, Dominican Republic
Miguelangel Rodriguez, RHP, Dominican Republic
Tony Bps Spina is a lifelong baseball fan hailing from the City of Brotherly Love - Philadelphia! Tony has loved baseball since 1980 and has followed the Phillies through good and bad times. Tony is married with 3 kids and works for a financial institution but has enough free time to play in 20 fantasy baseball leagues with 75% of them being Dynasty Leagues. He lives a few blocks away from Citizens Bank Park and attends many Phillies games per year in addition to their minor league teams in Lehigh Valley and Reading. He can be reached on Twitter at @TonyBps1.