The Phillies added six minor leaguers last week in the series of trades they made before the July 31 trade deadline. But just as important could be the extra money the team acquired to spend on the international market.
MLB permits each team to spend only a certain amount of money per year on international free agents. The Phillies have a bonus pool allotment of $4.75 million and are able to add to that pool by acquiring other teams' slots in increments of $250,000. The team acquired "international amateur signing bonus pool space" in three of the four trades they made last week. General manager Matt Klentak said the team acquired more than $1 million of pool money through trades in July.
"It gives Sal the ability to go scout the market for the next 11 months and sign the players immediately," Klentak said of international scouting director Sal Agostinelli.
The added money needs to be spent before this signing period ends on June 15. The Phillies signed a slew of players when the period opened on July 2. This added money is for new players.
"It's a huge thing. Matt's done a fantastic job for us and I appreciate the trust he has in our department with signing players," Agostinelli said. "It's big because it's an opportunity to be able to sign someone after the fact when you already committed a lot of the money."
Agostinelli pointed to last summer when the Phillies had extra money to sign outfielder Simon Muzziotti after the Venezuelan's deal with Boston was ruled invalid. Muzziotti, 18, is currently in the Gulf Coast League.
"We held a little money back and we were able to sign Muzziotti," Agostinelli said. "The more money you have, the better. Things come up. You just sit there and wait for things to come up. During a period of the year, sometimes you have to give more money than you wanted to a particular guy. A lot of teams don't have any money left. They've run out. So it's great to have the comfort of knowing that we have this extra cash to sign a guy that's maybe a pitcher that was throwing 86, 87 but is now throwing 90, 91 and wants more money."
"Perfect example is when we signed Carlos Carrasco (in 2003)," Agostinelli said. "He signed after July 2. He was 86, 87. Then next time I saw him in the middle of the summer, he was throwing 91, 92. We had the extra money and we signed him for 300 grand. It's kind of the same ideology."
Rhys Hoskins homered twice on Wednesday night for Triple A Lehigh Valley and leads the International League with 26 home runs. All signs point to him reaching the majors this month, perhaps as early as next week when the Phillies return from a West Coast trip…Cornelius Randolph, the team's first-round pick in 2015, is quietly having a strong second half at high-A Clearwater. He entered Thursday batting .333 with a .975 OPS in his last 33 games….Kevin Gowdy, last year's second-round pick who signed for $3.5 million, is sidelined by some right elbow soreness, Klentak said. Gowdy has pitched just nine innings since being drafted because of various injuries. "With a young high-school arm like that, we're going to be conservative," Klentak said….The Phillies are hopeful that Mark Appel (strained right shoulder) can return to action before the minor-league season ends. He could return as a reliever for triple-A Lehigh Valley…Jose Gomez, the infielder acquired from Colorado in the Pat Neshek trade, has yet to play in the Phillies organization. He was hit on the hand by a pitch before the trade. The Phillies were aware of the injury, which was just a bruise and not a fracture, at the time of the trade. Gomez could play for high-A Clearwater this weekend.
Sixto Sanchez: The righthander may be baseball's best pitching prospect. He has posted back-to-back scoreless starts at single-A Lakewood and has not yielded an extra-base hit since July 5. Sanchez has 32 strikeouts in his last 33 innings.
Jhailyn Ortiz: The outfielder homered on consecutive days this week and now has seven home runs this season in 33 games at short season Class A Williamsport. He turns 19 in November and it will be interesting to see how the Phillies push him next year.