Jul 242010

July 24 Philadelphia Inquirer

“Catcher Carlos Ruiz, a native of Panama, is currently the only member of the Phillies’ major-league roster who was an international signing.

That does not mean the Phillies’ international scouting department has been a failure, but a baseball source indicated that the organization has not pumped as much money into its international program in recent years. The source said that could eventually hurt the Phillies at the big-league level.

“They’re probably in the bottom third,” the source said. “I think things started to change when they put more money into the big-league payroll. I think that took some of the money away from the international program. I believe they’ve been working with less the last three years.”

The Phillies’ two most recent international signings of note have been Venezuelan shortstop Francisco Silva and Dominican pitcher Miguel Nunez. Silva received a $180,000 signing bonus earlier this month and Nunez received a $225,000 signing bonus in January.

Unlike some teams, the Phillies have not been inclined to give million-dollar signing bonuses on the international market, choosing instead to pay in the range they gave to Silva and Nunez.

“You have to continue to sign good players and stay aggressive,” the baseball source said. “That team was built through its farm system, and international scouting is all about talking to the buscones [talent hunters]. If you don’t pay for some players, they’ll stop showing you the top players.”

The source said the type of bonuses the Phillies gave to Silva and Nunez are enough to keep them in the game.

It is believed the Phillies’ only international player to receive more than a $1 million signing bonus was South Korean pitcher Seung Lee, who signed for $1.2 million in 2001. The Phillies also signed South Korean Il Kim for $800,000 that year. Neither of them made it to the big leagues.

Still, there have been plenty of success stories for an international program that two decades ago was on the verge of extinction.

Venezuelan native Carlos Carrasco was part of the trade package last July when the Phillies acquired Cliff Lee from the Cleveland Indians, and Dominican Republic native Ezequiel Astacio was used to get Billy Wagner from Houston in 2004.”

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