It’s safe to say that Odubel Herrera has made a pretty favorable impression at Phillies spring training thus far. The Rule 5 draft pick selected from the Texas Rangers back in December started off with about a 50/50 chance of making the Phillies roster for Opening Day. Showing his plus speed and a knack for hitting in games, Herrera has begun to grow the odds in his favor.
Primarily an infielder in the Rangers organization, Herrera has seen most of his time in the outfield with the Phillies. But he has the versatility to play just about anywhere on the field, and thanks to the ankle injury that has slowed Chase Utley to this point, Herrera has been given chances at 2nd base as well.
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Promoted to AA ball after playing 29 games where he hit .297, Herrera proceeded to take the Texas League by storm in 2014, winning the batting title. In his final 96 games, Herrera hit .321 and finished the season off having played in 125 games, and having hit a combined .315 with 59 RBI’s and 21 stolen bases.
Herrera has always been able to hit the ball well. His defense is the facet of his game that has needed the most work. This switch to the outfield could be just what he needs.
A prototypical #8 hitter in the National League, Herrera isn’t going to fool anyone into thinking he’s gonna hit for power, despite his stocky frame. If Herrera keeps hitting the ball well and is able to keep making good contact, Sandberg will certainly find a spot for the 23-year old.
Watch below as TBOH’s own Baseball Betsy (@BaseballBetsy) was on hand to capture Odubel’s first hit with his new club.
Herrera has been a breath of fresh air this spring, and could possibly play his way into a regular role this season, as did another Phillies Rule 5 draftee by the name of Shane Victorino. As Phillies fans well know, Victorino, one of the more successful Rule 5 draftees in recent memory, was selected by the Phillies in the 2004 Rule 5 draft with the 7th selection overall from the San Diego Padres.
I would temper any enthusiasm before predicting a career like Victorino’s for Herrera. But with plus speed and a solid approach to hitting, he just needs the rest of his game to develop. If he continues to have a solid spring, he has a chance to stay in Philadelphia as part of the 25-man roster. From that point, anything can happen.