Before a pitch was thrown in a Grapefruit League game last March, an NL scout raved about Odubel Herrera. He said that Herrera would be the Phillies leadoff hitter and leftfielder. The 23-year old Venezuelan, who never played outfield, became the Phillies starting centerfielder and has hit leadoff at times. Not bad for a Rule 5 acquisition.
Give the scout for credit for judging talent.
“I love Herrera,” the scout said. “I can’t believe Texas left him unprotected. A great job by Ruben [Amaro].”
Amaro is no longer the general manager but Herrera, who has been one of the silver linings in a stormy season, figures to be in the Phillies plans for years to come.
There were some pundits, who wondered if Herrera, who skipped Triple-A, might have trouble sticking with the Phillies for the entire season. If Rule 5’s fail to stay, they must be offered back to the franchise, which exposed them.
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However, that was no such issue for Herrera, who entered Saturday’s game hitting .288 with eight homers and 40 RBI. El Torito (the little bull) has some pop and he works pitchers.
“I like what I see of him,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon. “He has a lot of energy and he battles when he gets in the box. He also looks like he can flat out hit.”
Herrera, who won a Texas League and a Venezuelan Winter League batting title, has impressed at the plate.
“I love to hit,” Herrera said. “I love baseball.”
“For him to be able to play center as well as he plays it with on the job training this season, at this level, is impressive,” Maddon said. “He’s certainly an athlete.”
Herrera is versatile and his speed creates havoc on the base paths.
However, Herrera is hitting a wall, which isn’t surprising since he has over 500 plate appearances, which is much more than he ever had in a season.
“For a long stretch he has played every inning of every game as well,” Pete Mackanin said. “He has to be tired toward the end of a long season and that’s just fine. It makes sense. This will help him prepare for next season.”
It’s just the beginning of a long run for the easy-going Herrera, who almost smiles as much as Jeff Francoeur.
“I love playing in Philly,” Herrera said. “It’s been great.”