Phillies Former Manager Charlie Manuel Likes Young Hitters

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Feb 19, 2015; Clearwater, FL, USA; Philadelphia Phillies hitting coach Steve Henderson (left) and Charlie Manuel during spring training workouts at Bright House Field. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 19, 2015; Clearwater, FL, USA; Philadelphia Phillies hitting coach Steve Henderson (left) and Charlie Manuel during spring training workouts at Bright House Field. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports /
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Former Phillies manager and current senior adviser Charlie Manuel gave positive reviews about numerous young hitters in the organization.

Charlie Manuel steered the Phillies to a World Series in 2008 as well as five straight NL East titles during his tenure as manager. For that, he was inducted into the Philly Sports Hall of Fame this week.

Before the induction ceremony at Hilton City Avenue, Manuel spoke and shared his thoughts on the hitters in the organization. The former Indians hitting coach certainly knows a thing or two about spotting talented hitters.

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Manuel thinks third baseman Maikel Franco can be a solid producer in the middle of the order, telling MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki Franco “has a chance to be a high talented hitter.” Manuel did note Franco can lose his focus hitting. He told Zolecki, “I think Franco gets caught up in what he’s doing. He gets real happy and then he loses focus on what he’s trying to do at the plate”

Manuel compared Franco to his former pupil in Cleveland and Philadelphia, first baseman Jim Thome. Manuel said Thome would crush balls in batting practice, then “overswing” in-game and strikeout. He feels that Franco will really benefit from new hitting coach Matt Stairs.

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The former manager also had plenty to say about the club’s hitting prospects. Any discussion of the team’s hitting prospects these days starts with Double-A Reading sluggers Dylan Cozens and Rhys Hoskins. Manuel said they are both “good hitters” and that he likes them “a lot more than I hear people talk about them.” He did note that Cozens still “has to cut his strikeouts.”

Meanwhile, two hitters that struggled in the minors this year were No. 1 prospect J.P. Crawford and consensus top-five prospect Nick Williams. Manuel told Zolecki:

"“Nick Williams has all the talent in the world,” Manuel said. “But when I saw him, his talent was just getting him by. He needs to be more selective at the plate and work the count and get into good counts to hit. He’s got as much talent as any of them. The bottom line, when I look at Crawford, he’s got to improve.”"

Manuel compared the Phillies top draft pick, outfielder Mickey Moniak, to Nationals center fielder Trea Turner. If it wasn’t for Corey Seager, Turner would be a frontrunner for the National League Rookie of the Year. In 73 games, he posted a .342/.370/.567 line with 13 home runs and 33 stolen bases. The club would be ecstatic if Moniak could produce even just a portion of that amount.

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With all this hitting talent, Manuel likes where the Phils are headed. He said, “I’ll say definitely, within the next two or three years, we’ve got a chance to have a real good hitting ballclub in the Major Leagues.”

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