Phillies

Phillies to sign Dominican pitching prospect Starlyn Castillo and others as international market opens

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Phillies to sign Dominican pitching prospect Starlyn Castillo and others as international market opens

The calendar has turned to July and in the baseball world, that means scorching heat, postgame fireworks shows, the All-Star Game, the trade deadline and the start of the international signing period for 16-year-old prospects from Latin America.

Players from Latin America are not subject to the draft like players from the United States and Canada so this is an important date for clubs that invest years into scouting a young player in hopes of getting him to sign when the market opens on July 2.

In many cases, teams have had handshake agreements with players for months, but contracts don't become official until Monday morning.

Teams are guided by MLB's international signing bonus regulations. The Phillies had a budget of just over $3.9 million for this summer's international class.

The Phillies are expected to sign a dozen or so Latin American prospects in the coming weeks and a number of them will become official Monday.

Word in baseball circles is that the team has agreements with several highly regarded prospects, including Starlyn Castillo, a 16-year-old pitcher from the Dominican Republic. Castillo is a strong-bodied right-hander who has been up to 97 mph with his fastball. Word is the Phillies will sign him for $1.6 million.

In addition to Castillo, the team is said to have agreements with Fernando Ortega, a right-handed pitcher from the Dominican Republic; Andrick Nava, a left-handed hitting catcher from Venezuela; and Alexeis Azuaje, a middle infielder Venezuela with top of the chart foot speed.

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James Paxton trade affects Phillies in several ways

James Paxton trade affects Phillies in several ways

The Yankees are getting James Paxton from the Mariners, as first reported by Jon Heyman of Fancred. It's a move that has a few ramifications for the Phillies.

The Mariners are acquiring pitching prospect Justus Sheffield, OF Don Thompson-Williams and RHP Erik Swanson for Paxton, who is 30 years old and perpetually hurt but so good when he's on the mound. Paxton has a 3.42 career ERA with even better earned run estimators — he limits the homers, strikes out more than a batter per inning, all that good stuff.

The move potentially crosses Patrick Corbin off of the Yankees' list, ridding the marketplace of a top bidder for the top free-agent pitcher.

That's not a certainty, though. The Yankees could still look to sign Corbin to a lucrative deal, putting together a rotation of Corbin, Paxton, Luis Severino and Masahiro Tanaka.

Paxton was a name that teammate Jim Salisbury mentioned a few weeks ago in reference to the Phillies' search for a top-of-the-rotation lefty starter (see story). Robbie Ray was the other, and with the D-backs potentially exploring Paul Goldschmidt and Zack Greinke trades, them moving Ray is a good bet this offseason.

As for Corbin, it just doesn't seem the Phillies will be the team that outbids all others. As the top pitcher on the market, he's still in line for nine figures. While free agency has been reined in the last few years, there have still been eight starting pitchers since 2015 to get contracts of at least $100 million: Yu Darvish, David Price, Stephen Strasburg, Zack Greinke, Jon Lester, Max Scherzer, Johnny Cueto and Jordan Zimmermann.

Perhaps if the market comes back to the Phillies with Corbin as it did with Jake Arrieta, they'd pounce. But it's unlikely with every team always in the mix for pitching.

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Phillies face Braves in national spotlight to kick off 2019 season

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Phillies face Braves in national spotlight to kick off 2019 season

With the Phillies expected to spend this offseason, there will be more national attention on them next season than in nearly a decade.

And that’s reflected in the schedule. On March 31, 2019, it’s the Phillies and Braves on the first ESPN Sunday Night Baseball telecast of the season. The 7 p.m. game is their third of 162. 

It’s the Phillies’ first time leading off Sunday Night Baseball since 2009, when they also hosted the Braves. They lost 4-1 that night behind Brett Myers. Jumpin’ Jack Taschner was the first man out of the ‘pen. Time flies. 

The big question is who will be hitting in the heart of the Phillies’ order to provide run support for Aaron Nola that night. The Braves could also make a splash this offseason. They’re not ordinarily a big spender, but their young talent is the envy of much of the league. Atlanta could lose free agent Nick Markakis this offseason, which would thrill the Phils.

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