The Philadelphia Phillies have signed another 2nd tier free agent to help improve their outfield depth.
Former Kansas City Royals and Baltimore Orioles outfielder David Lough, who turned 30 years old just last week, has been signed to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.
Lough was the Royals 11th round selection in the 2007 MLB Amateur Draft out of Division II Mercyhurst College in Easton, Pennsylvania. The Akron, Ohio native advanced incrementally through the minors, finally reaching the big leagues with Kansas City for the first time in September of 2012.
In his official rookie year of 2013, Lough had the best of his four seasons in Major League Baseball. He hit for a .286/.311/.413 slash line with five homers, 33 RBI, 35 runs scored, and 26 total extra-base hits in 335 plate appearances.
On June 30th, 2013 in a 9-8 win over the Minnesota Twins at Target Field , Lough became just the fifth Royals player in their franchise history to record four extra-base hits in one game. At the conclusion of the season, Lough finished 8th in the American League Rookie of the Year balloting.
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Despite, or perhaps because of, his nice freshman campaign, Lough was dealt by the Royals to the Orioles on December 18th, 2013 in exchange for a same aged infielder, Danny Valencia.
Over the past two years, Lough has served as a backup in the Orioles outfield, primarily in left field, but also playing some in center. In 341 plate appearances with Baltimore over those two seasons, Lough hit for a cumulative .227/.280/.354 slash line with 8 home runs, 28 RBI, 45 runs scored, and 10 stolen bases.
The Orioles DFA’d Lough on August 14th, 2015. He passed through waivers unclaimed, went to the minor leagues, and was recalled by Baltimore in September. He became a free agent following the season, and the Phillies have added him simply to give the organization more experienced, inexpensive depth.
Entering spring training, the Phillies outfield depth chart shows Odubel Herrera in center field and Aaron Altherr in left. The starting job in right field appears up for grabs, with Peter Bourjos and Rule 5 draftee Tyler Goeddel the leading contenders. Cody Asche and Darin Ruf could each see some time in left field as well.
The Phillies have a few exciting outfield prospects coming in their minor leagues, but none will be ready early in the 2016 campaign. Nick Williams is the closest to helping, and the most talented. The outfielder who came from the Texas Rangers in the Cole Hamels trade appears to be the right fielder of the future, and could push for the Majors at some point this summer.
As for the left field future, current catching prospect Jorge Alfaro is a possibility, as is 2015 top draftee Cornelius Randolph. Both of those players are still a couple of years away from Citizens Bank Park.
Assuming he produces in spring training, and barring any injuries, it is likely that Lough will find himself starting the season with AAA Lehigh Valley. In the past, scouting reports have called him a prototypical 4th outfielder, but I don’t see even that level. He is more an “emergency” outfielder to me.
Despite having some speed and being a plus outfield defender, Lough simply doesn’t have the bat to stay in the big leagues for any length of time.