Since he was signed by the Phillies for a reported signing bonus of $759,000 in the summer of 2011 on his 16th birthday, Carlos Tocci has been followed by a tremendous reputation that he seemed to finally be living up to during his 2015 season.
Right from the start of his career, the Venezuelan was tasked with very challenging assignments. Tocci says that one of the things that resulted in him choosing to sign with the Phillies was that they pledged to allow him to begin his pro career in the United States instead of playing at home in the Venezuelan Summer League.
After participating in the Phillies’ fall instructional league in 2011, Tocci debuted in the minors with the rookie level Gulf Coast League Phillies in 2012, batting .278 with two doubles, nine RBI and nine stolen bases in 38 games. The following year, as a 17-year-old, he played the entire season with the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws. Struggling against more experienced pitching, Tocci posted a .209/.261/.249 slash line in 118 games.
The unimpressive numbers didn’t sour the Phillies on his ceiling, though, as the organization maintained its opinion of the young righty batter as a very promising prospect. Tocci is a guy that has always been praised for his maturity, which his coaches love.
In a repeat campaign with Lakewood in 2014, Tocci, who grew up admiring MLB slugger and fellow Venezuelan Miguel Cabrera, continued to adapt to the elder competition, seeing some improvement at the plate with a .242/.297/.324 slash line in 125 games.
He entered his age 19 season last year with plenty left to prove in the Class A South Atlantic League, so Tocci returned to Lakewood and posted impressive offensive numbers, at long last. Earning a nod as an All-Star while posting a .321 batting average with two homers, 25 RBI and 14 steals in 16 opportunities.
At mid-season, Tocci was promoted to Class A Advanced Clearwater, where he sported a .258 average with a pair of home runs and 18 RBI.
It took 862 professional at bats before Tocci launched his first round tripper, but with four homers in his 2015 season, he’s clearly beginning to hit with more power. The Phils have long wanted for Tocci to add strength to his thin six-foot-two 160-pound frame. He’s been working on that for four straight years now. Touted as a contact hitter that has made loads of improvements at recognizing pitches, if Tocci can add the muscle, his offensive game will be much better off.
Featuring above average speed, Tocci certainly can be a threat on the base paths. He’ll look to improve on his abilities at reading pitchers after getting caught in nine of his 12 steal attempts with Clearwater after his promotion last season.
Described as a glider, Tocci has excellent range in the outfield and sparkles defensively with his glove. He’s a already a plus defender.
With plenty of outfield depth in the Phils organization, Tocci could become a trade chip for the club that originally signed him, as players such as Odubel Herrera, Aaron Altherr, Tyler Goeddel, Nick Williams, Roman Quinn and others block Tocci’s path to the big leagues.
Expect Tocci to be back with the Threshers to open 2016. A full season there would be beneficial to his progress.
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Image by Jay Floyd