Phils sign Venezuelan OF Muzziotti

17-year-old takes unusual route to international signing

Phils sign Venezuelan OF Muzziotti

DENVER -- The Phillies will have one heck of a story if Simon Muzziotti makes the big leagues.

They signed the 17-year-old outfielder from Venezuela to a $750,000 bonus Friday. Muzziotti comes to the Phillies in a very unusual way. He was a free agent, despite the fact the Red Sox paid him a $300,000 bonus last summer and despite the fact he hit .317 in 17 games this summer for the Red Sox in the Dominican Summer League.

Muzziotti became a free agent again recently only because Major League Baseball penalized the Red Sox for trying to circumvent the rules during the previous international signing period. The Red Sox were not permitted to sign players for more than $300,000 during the 2015-16 signing period because they exceeded their bonus pool in the 2014-15 signing period.

But the Red Sox instead made package deals, essentially paying a group of players $300,000 each only to have a few of those players funnel much of their bonus to the most valuable player in the group.

Major League Baseball penalized the Red Sox for their actions, which included making the players they signed free agents.

Only $450,000 of Muzziotti's bonus counted against the Phillies' signing pool of $5,610,800. They had purposely not spent their entire signing pool just in the event something unexpected came their way.

Muzziotti did.

One scout told MLB.com last summer that Muzziotti compared to a young Jacoby Ellsbury. Muzziotti had been clocked at 6.5 seconds in the 60-yard dash.

The Phillies previously agreed to terms with five other international players: right-hander Francisco Morales ($720,000 signing bonus), shortstop Brayan Gonzalez ($900,000), shortstop Nicolas Torres ($665,000), catcher Juan Aparicio ($475,000) and shortstop Jose Tortolero ($450,000).

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. 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.