Phils see plenty of potential in 16-year-old Ortiz

DR native already 6-foot-3, 240 pounds; Alfaro off to winter ball this week

PHILADELPHIA -- In the future, the Phillies imagine a hulking corner outfielder in the middle of their lineup, hitting home runs like Ryan Howard in his prime. But Jhailyn Ortiz is a long way away from the Majors.

The Phillies signed Ortiz to a $4 million signing bonus in July. He is 6-foot-3, 240 pounds and strong. But Ortiz also is just 16, which means he is several years away from reaching Philadelphia. Phils player development director Joe Jordan recently visited the Dominican Republic and got another look at Ortiz, who MLB.com ranked as the eighth-best prospect in this year's international free-agent class.

"I believe we saw a lot of what our scouts saw and liked," Jordan said. "He had a really good week. I really believe that the kid has a chance to be a good hitter. He's 16 years old, but he did some things that I thought were a little advanced. He had a good two-strike approach. He really hit some balls hard.

"Balls just come off his bat differently than almost all of the kids down there. It was a very impressive week, but we've got a lot of work to do."

Of course, handing a $4 million signing bonus to a 16-year-old kid is a considerable risk. But former Phillies president and general manager Pat Gillick frequently said teams cannot be afraid to take such risks.

Can't win big without occasionally betting big.

"We just need some time with him," Jordan said about Ortiz. "He can really throw. He's got an above-average arm. He's going to have accuracy. He's athletic for his size. Over the next couple years, we're going to reshape him a little bit, reshape his body. He's just a young kid that we've got to firm up, but he is athletic for his size. I saw a lot of good things."

Alfaro ready to go

Catcher Jorge Alfaro is scheduled to leave Clearwater, Fla., this week and head home to Colombia for a few days before heading to Venezuela to play winter ball.

The Phillies acquired Alfaro, 22, in July in the Cole Hamels trade. He is considered the Phils' No. 4 prospect and the No. 59 prospect in baseball, according to MLBPipeline.com. Alfaro spent most of the season recovering from surgery on his left ankle, but he is ready to play.

"He looks good," Jordan said. "He is ready to go. We need to get him on the field. He needs to play for a while and knock off some rust. Physically, he has everything you're looking for, but we need to see him play."

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his Phillies blog The Zo Zone, follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.