DOB: August 23, 1995 in Maracay, Aragua, Venezuela (Age 18)
Height: 6′ 2″ Weight: 160 lbs. Frankly, he doesn’t look an ounce over 150.
Position: CF Bats: RH
How Acquired: Signed in 2011 as an international free agent at 16 years old with a signing bonus of $750,000. Several teams were in on Tocci but the Phillies won out.
“Great instincts” is a phrase used by almost everyone who has watched Carlos Tocci play.
At just 18 years old, Tocci would be a senior in high school this year if he were born in the USA. After debuting in the Gulf Coast League as a 16-year-old in 2012, where he earned the ranking of the GCL’s 6th best prospect, the Phillies continued to move him aggressively by assigning him to Lakewood the following season.
That Tocci managed to stick in Lakewood for the full season as a seventeen year-old is truly amazing. He was the youngest player in the league, and though his stats are nothing to gush over, the simple fact that he held his own playing against 23- and 24-year-olds shows how advanced he is for his age and physical development.
Some project Tocci to be a five-tool player once his body fills out, but for now, let’s review them as they are.
Tocci is rated as anywhere from plus to plus-plus in the speed department. I think plus-plus is a bit on the rosy side. Speed hasn’t translated onto the base paths for Carlos in pro ball yet, but much of that has to do with a lack of experience. He does run like a gazelle in the outfield, though, with long, easy strides, and while he continues to work on improving on his routes, his speed in the outfield translates very well. He’s not a speed demon but it’s definitely a plus.
Hitting for Average
Tocci has a sweet swing and sprays line drives to all fields. While the ball doesn’t travel very deep, he makes decent contact and shows an advanced eye at the dish for such a young Jedi. As he gains strength, he’ll be better able to reach the gaps without any drastic changes in his mechanics.
Already scouts gush over Tocci’s arm, which is typically rated as a plus. With added strength he should eventually feature an elite arm.
Already a plus defender, Tocci received rave reviews from his coaches and teammates. Willie Carmona has this to say about him last season:
He’s the most advanced 17-year-old I’ve seen in a long, long time. It’s amazing. He’s almost already a big-league outfielder. To me, he’s close to that. He makes every play. Great arm. He gets great jumps. You can’t ask more of a 17-year-old in this league.
Hitting for Power
It’s tough to tell what a 17-year-old is going to look like in 10 years. Tocci is the poster child for projection but calling him a five-tool player is a prediction worthy of Nostradamus. There isn’t wisp of power to be found.
Tocci’s biggest weakness is his weakness. To call him rail thin is perhaps unfair to rails. His uniform flaps off his limbs like a flag on a yacht. If he sucked too hard on a milkshake he’d get pulled into the straw.
Get the picture? Not if he turns sideways you don’t.
No wonder he wore down as the season wore on, which is totally understandable for a kid his age in pro ball. A full season is a real grind, and he simply wore down physically and perhaps mentally as well. The experience, however, was invaluable.
Consider that most 17-year-olds are still watching cartoons and playing video games all day on their parent’s TV. Carlos was sweating every day in pro ball thousands of miles from his family and friends in a foreign culture, and you begin to understand the magnitude of his accomplishments. This is why a purely stats based view of his performance is wholly inadequate.
There’s a reason Baseball America has Tocci rated at the 6th best prospect in the Phillies system: he’s incredibly young and holding his own against much older and stronger guys. He’s like that 14-year-old in Harvard Grad School who passed every course. Lakewood is best viewed as a Pass/Fail experience; stats don’t really matter and Tocci definitely passed.
Said Lakewood skipper Mickey Morandini:
For us, he just needs to grow. A lot of the balls he’s hitting now that are being caught will be doubles, triples, home runs in a few years.
2014 Assignment: Lakewood
Tocci is still young for the A- level, so there is absolutely no reason to push him to A+ ball in Clearwater. I’m guessing the Phillies will do the sensible thing and let him finish 2014 at Lakewood running through the tape rather than huffing and puffing at the finish line. Still, the Phillies have been aggressive with Tocci so far because he has the work habits and defense to rise up to the challenge.
He gets it. He listens. He doesn’t make the same mistake twice.
Physically he’s only getting stronger, so there’s still a slim chance Tocci will wear a Threshers jersey before 2015. And maybe he won’t even disappear in it.
We try to feed him as much as we can.
Cheeseburger, cheeseburger, cheeseburger!
Careful with that milkshake, though…