Unlike 2012, the Phillies enter Spring Training in 2013 with a surplus of depth in the outfield. Yet, what 2012 lacked in depth, it made up for it with talent at the top, including the now-departed Hunter Pence and Shane Victorino. The Phillies enter Spring Training with nine outfielders on their 40-man roster and two non-roster invitees competing for five spots. When the dust settles, the outfield run-off won’t be quite as exciting as last year’s battle between Juan Pierre and Scott Podsednik, which was very clearly for the 25th roster spot, but of the two names invited, one may have a chance help the Phillies out.
We talked briefly about Mitchell when his December signing went under the radar. Mitchell, now 28, was ranked eighth by Baseball America among A’s prospects headed into 2012, one ahead of former Phillies prospect Michael Taylor. He earned the superlatives of Fastest Baserunner and Best Defensive Outfielder but could not impress enough in his first extended shot in Triple-A Sacramento (.252/.345/.386) to earn a stint with the A’s in 2012. A bit old for the prospect side, Mitchell latched on with the Phillies after the A’s let him go.
Mitchell has a lot of pluses, namely defense and speed. The downfall with Mitchell, however, is that his base running instincts are poor and boasts only a 67.29% success rate on steals. Mitchell has C+ power, can hit some home runs, and would absolutely be worth giving a shot to in a reserve role in 2013, as his age and previous successes in the Minors indicate that it is time to see what he can do. This is the kind of cost-effective move that can pay off but with so many similar players, Mitchell projects best-case as a slightly better, left-handed hitting John Mayberry Jr., Mitchell will likely not get a chance to latch on with the Phils at any point this season.
Chances of Making Phils out of Spring Training: F+. It would take an insane series of breaks for Mitchell to make the team out of camp, which would have to include the Phillies sending both Darin Ruf and Domonic Brown to Lehigh Valley to start the year, shipping Ender Inciarte back to Arizona, and cutting or trading either or both Mayberry and Laynce Nix, but Mitchell has a useful skill set in a suddenly defensively-poor outfield. It’s not impossible that he breaks camp with the team, but a hot Spring from Brown, Inciarte, Mayberry, Ruf, or even Tyson Gillies puts the kabosh on this one really quick.
Chances of Seeing Time with Phils in 2013: D-. So, Mitchell could be a really solid role player for the Phillies and could be a guy who gets called up right away if there is an injury but he is too similar to Mayberry to really have a shot and Ruf is a superior left-handed hitter. Again, it is not impossible, but Mitchell sits firmly ninth on my probability scale of outfielders who will be in Spring Training with the Phillies who could see time in 2013, ahead of just Zach Collier and the next man on the list.
Mather was part of one of the most impressive string of signings and acquisitions of all-time. The Phillies became the only team in the last ten years, possibly longer, to add two players who qualified for the batting title the previous year but posted negative fWAR. Not only did the Phillies pull off this impressive feat, but the acquired a pair of players who similarly hurt their teams in 2012: Yuniesky Betancourt and Mather. Mather’s play cost his team a win and a half last year in just 243 PA, which negative or positive integer, is an impressive rate.
It doesn’t take an advanced statistic like WAR, either, to show that Mather did not help out the Cubs last year, either. Mather hit just .209/.256/.324 with five HRs and five steals in seven attempts. Mather’s plate discipline stats fit right in with recent acquisition Delmon Young, too: career 6.9 BB% and 20.9 BB%. Mather can provide some value in that he can play the corner outfield spots and first base and is a competent fake in center and third, but he does not add a lot of value.
Chances of Making Phils out of Spring Training: None. Mather ranks exactly 11 out of 11 on my “Phillies-Outfielders-Who-Will-Be-At-Spring-Training Depth Chart”. At age 30, he’s too far along to develop any further skill sets and his current skill set just doesn’t make him a viable Major Leaguer.
Chances of Seeing Time with Phils in 2013: None. Mather was statistically the least valuable player in the Major Leagues who either did or did not qualify for the batting title by FanGraphs, joining Michael Young on the Phillies roster as the player who holds that distinction for the “did qualify for the batting title” division. Mather already has done something I never will: play in the Major Leagues. Unfortunately, it does not look like he will repeat the dream in 2013 with the Phillies. Look for Mather to join Gillies and Mitchell in the IronPigs outfield in 2013.