Phillies May Have Found a Keeper with Odubel Herrera
Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said Thursday that Herrera could bat second in the Phillies lineup this season. He was primarily a second baseman while hitting .321 in Double-A last season but the Phillies moved him to centerfield this spring and he responded by winning the opening day spot.
"It's incredible to have a Rule 5 pick become your opening day centerfielder," ESPN.com Sr. baseball writer Jayson Stark said. "That doesn't happen a lot in the major leagues."
Pretty big spot for a guy you've never heard of until this year.
Herrera won the centerfield job by hitting .355 with two home runs and seven RBI this spring. He added six stolen bases and scored nine runs in 62 grapefruit league at-bats.
"When he relaxes offensively and controls his at-bats better, he is really going to be fun offensively," Stark explained.
The Phillies may have found a keeper in Herrera, he'll provide energy at the top of the lineup that this team really lacks. While there will be some rough times, the guy rarely walks, fans are just going to have to sit back and see if he can grow.
"Scouts and executives who were in Venezuela last winner love this guy," Stark said about Herrera. "The day of the Rule 5 draft, I was standing in the back of the room, I had an executive run to come talk to me and said that was the best pick in the whole rule 5 draft - this guy can hit and he can win a batting title."
He's just 23 and has yet to play above Double-A, so he is going to make mistakes, but Herrera's speed gives him a chance to make an impact on some nights, but the Phillies are going to have to live with the growing pains.
"The defense is a little crude, especially in centerfield," Stark said. "But he can play it if you're willing to live with the growing pains, he has worked his butt off to learn the nuances of playing the outfield, there is going to be some rough times."
But in the end, does it really matter?
The results on the field this year are virtually inconsequential - it's where they go from here that matters and Herrera could be a piece to help get them where they want to return - a team like the Phillies searching with young talent and energy have no reason not to give Herrera a shot.
(Listen to ESPN Sr. baseball writer Jayson Stark discuss the Phillies 2015 season)