Selected by the Phillies last month in the big league portion of the annual MLB Rule 5 draft, muti-positional prospect Odubel Herrera is primed to make the team’s opening day big league roster.
The 23-year-old Venezuelan spent this off-season proving the Phils were right when they plucked him from the Rangers’ system. With a league-leading .372 average, six homers, 27 RBI and eight stolen bases in 58 games for La Guaira, Herrera was named the Venezuelan Winter League Most Valuable Player as well as the league’s Rookie of the Year.
In the summer of 2008, Herrera signed for a reported bonus of $160,00 at the age of 16. He would begin his pro career the follow year in the Dominican Summer League. Herrera moved at a steady pace in the Texas developmental ranks, but was behind some of the Rangers’ other top young infielders (Hanser Alberto, Rougned Odor and Jurickson Profar) on their depth chart, making him expendable to that club.
Splitting his 2014 campaign between Double-A Frisco and Class A Advanced Myrtle Beach, Herrera posted a .315 average with two home runs, 59 RBI and 21 steals in 125 combined games. He was also named an All-Star last year in the Double-A Texas League where he won that league’s batting title with a .321 mark.
Overall in his minor league career, the lefty batting Herrera sports a .294/.354/.377 offensive line in 610 games.
His size seems to limit his power potential, but the five-foot-eleven 200-pounder, having logged two batting titles in the past half-year, has proven that he can be an offensive threat. The main concern would be Herrera’s effort against left-handed pitchers. He batted just .207 with a .489 OPS against lefties at Double-A, while his numbers facing right-handers were much better with a .353 average and an .855 OPS.
On defense, Herrera is a quality fielder with much versatility. He has played the majority of his affiliated pro career in the infield, notching 411 games at second base and 135 at shortstop. He’s touted as a slick fielder with strong range and a good arm. Also in the minors, Herrera has played 13 games in the outfield. His primary position with La Guaira in the VWL this off-season was center field. The Phillies are said to see his future in the outfield.
Speed is certainly part of Herrera’s tool set. Having been successful in 72% (128 steals in 178 attempts) of the time swiping bags, he can definitely be a contributor on the bases with some effort focused on getting smarter in that aspect of his game.
A team in rebuild mode like the Phillies have claimed to be should give serious consideration to carrying Herrera for the duration of next season to avoid the risk of losing him back to Texas, as per the Rule 5 pick criteria.
Look for the youngster to get boat loads of playing time all throughout spring training in order to give him every opportunity to impress Phils brass and coaches.
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