8/20/2014 5:29 P.M. ET
Phillies could be in market for Cuban talent
Outfielders Castillo, Tomas among defected players potentially on radar
By Todd Zolecki / MLB.com
PHILADELPHIA -- General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said last week the Phillies need to make serious upgrades to their offense.
He could start in the outfield.
Despite the fact Marlon Byrd is fourth in the National League in home runs and sixth in RBIs and Ben Revere has the highest batting average in baseball since June 25, Phillies outfielders entered Wednesday's series finale against the Mariners at Citizens Bank Park with a combined .706 OPS, which ranked 19th in baseball.
Domonic Brown's .622 OPS ranked 56th out of 60 qualifying outfielders. Brown is on pace to have the lowest OPS of any left fielder since Chuck Knoblauch (.582) in 2002.
Multiple sources said recently the Phillies will take a shot at Cuban free agent Rusney Castillo, but they are not expected to sign him. Castillo established residency in Haiti and was cleared by the U.S. government to sign with a team in July.
The Phillies could be more aggressive with other international free agents in the coming months. Cuban outfielder Yasmani Tomas has big-time power, but the 23-year-old is not believed to be at the level of White Sox slugger Jose Abreu. Tomas could hit the market in the next couple of months.
Yozzen Cuesta is a corner infielder, which would require the Phillies to shuffle several pieces if they plan to pursue him.
Cuesta will not help offensively, but left-hander Misael Siverio, who defected to the United States before an exhibition game in Iowa, also could be on the Phillies' radar.
Tomas, Cuesta and Siverio have established residency outside the United States and Cuba. They need to be cleared by the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), then declared free agents by Major League Baseball before they sign. But action on those players could pick up once Castillo signs with a team.
Taney Little Leaguers have fans in Phillies
PHILADELPHIA -- Manager Ryne Sandberg entered the Phillies' media room Wednesday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park wearing an unfamiliar blue T-shirt and blue cap.
"Well, obviously a big day here in Philadelphia," Sandberg explained following the Phillies' 4-3 victory over the Mariners.
Sandberg was representing the Taney Little League team from the Graduate Hospital neighborhood in Philadelphia. It was scheduled to play Las Vegas on Wednesday night in the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa.
A thirteen-year-old girl, Mo'ne Davis, who appeared on the latest cover of Sports Illustrated, was scheduled to pitch.
"I feel like we did our part winning Game 1 here," Sandberg said. "A big game tonight for Taney. We're all pulling for them."
The Phillies hung a Taney T-shirt in their dugout during the game, another sign of support for a team that has caught nationwide attention.
"It was the team's idea to put something up," Sandberg said. "It's fun. We all enjoy the games. We all played Little League, so we can relate. It's back to the basics of baseball and having fun and jumping around and doing all the things that they do. So to have somebody to cheer for and pull for, that doesn't happen every year. We have somebody to pull for, so I know that we're all going to be watching tonight."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.