In the lobby of the Philadelphia Phillies spring training complex, a skinny, fresh-faced teenager sits with his eyes glued to the game on the television.
It may be just another exhibition game for the big team, but this is not just another kid — he's Carlos Tocci, a 17-year-old outfielder from Venezuela who is one of Philadelphia's top prospects.
Tocci was one of the most highly regarded international free agents last year and thus met instant pressure. Last summer he signed one of the largest deals the Phillies have ever given to an international player, a reported $750,000.
"Of course, you know you feel really well when you get that money," said Tocci, through translator and coach Nelson Prada. "But they expect to get something for the money from me."
The Phillies won a bidding war over Texas, Cleveland and Baltimore for his services, a battle that was prolonged as everyone waited for him to reach Major League Baseball's minimum signing age of 16.
It was two years ago, while 15, that Tocci began to realize he could turn the game he loved into a career and dedicated his life to accelerate his development.
"I know now the baseball world, how it works, the scouts and academies and all that, so I started getting involved [more]," said Tocci. "I knew then [at 15] I could sign and I really started to work hard."
Phillies' teen phenom has passion for the game
Allentown Morning Call | Mar 9