NEW YORK - Sal Agostinelli has been scouting internationally for the Phillies since 1997, so he knows all too well how dangerous it is to dream about a 16-year-old's potential.
But that will not stop him from gushing about an outfielder from the Dominican Republic named Jose Pujols, whom he signed Monday for $540,000.
"He's got more power than I've ever seen out of a 16-year-old kid," Agostinelli said. "It's amazing. He has tremendous wall power. In games, he learns how to adjust. He's a great kid with a big body."
Pujols was one of the 16-year-olds the Phillies signed Monday, the first day of the international signing period. The Phillies traditionally have been in the bottom third of teams in spending internationally, but Agostinelli said the front office had made a decision in January to invest more.
The result was about $2 million spent Monday, about a $500,000 increase over a season ago, when Baseball America ranked the Phils 21st in international spending. It's still not among the top figures in baseball, but it allowed Agostinelli to be more active.
"We spend a lot of money at the big-league level," Agostinelli said. "Now that our guys are getting up in older age, we have to regroup and get more prospects in the system. This is the way we're going to do it. We've been in on all the Cuban guys. We're really active right now. We're trying to make things happen."
Pujols (no relation to the Angels slugger) was ranked the 20th-best international prospect by Baseball America. Agostinelli also signed Deivi Grullon, rated as the 15th best, for $575,000. The 16-year-old Dominican catcher has "a plus major-league arm right now," Agostinelli said.
"The tools are all there," he said. "He's a strong, strong kid. His swing needs revamping."
Agostinelli was also high on a Venezuelan shortstop named Willerker Isava, who signed for $200,000. Agostinelli said the 16-year-old could have signed for more than $1 million if his bat was stronger.
"He's that good defensively," Agostinelli said.
As for Pujols, Agostinelli said he reminds him of Domingo Santana, a former Phillies prospect used in the package to acquire Hunter Pence. He is 6-foot-4 and has yet to fill out.
"Obviously, we're dreaming a lot," Agostinelli said. "But, boy, he can really put a charge on a ball. He took one of the most impressive batting practices I've ever seen."