Phillies prospect Carlos Tocci was left off the 40-man roster last offseason, but with his strong season he’s making a case for a spot on the roster.
With a large amount of prospects needing protection from the Rule 5 draft, the Phillies had to make some tough decisions about who they would add to the 40-man roster. One player they had to leave exposed was Carlos Tocci. The team figured that Tocci, who had yet to reach Double-A, wouldn’t be picked.
The gamble paid off and Tocci went unselected in the Rule 5 Draft last year. He has been the everyday center fielder for Reading this season and has been one of several standout hitters on the team.
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In 86 games this year, Tocci has a .308/.367/.409 line with a 116 wRC+. It’s his best offensive season since his 2015 stint in Low-A Lakewood, which was his third season there. Tocci’s never jumped off the page as a hard hitter, but he is hitting more line drives this year than he has the past two years in High-A Clearwater.
One of Tocci’s better assets is his approach at the plate.
Reading’s coaching staff praise his patience and plate discipline. Hitting coach John Mizerock praised the way Tocci fights during at-bats among other things: [quote via Ryan Lawrence of Philly Voice]
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"“Some guys, when they’re fighting off those tough pitches. Bad hitters are fouling off ball two and ball three, and it’s still the same count and you end up striking out and not putting it in play. ‘Toach’ doesn’t miss it, you put the ball in the zone, he’s putting it in play…“If you hit it on the barrel, that’s the No.1 skill,” Mizerock said. “He’ll figure out how to hit it a little further a long with strength. … He just doesn’t swing at bad pitches. He looks like a professional hitter. If he had Kingery’s (power), he’d be scary.”"
Tocci doesn’t walk at an extremely high rate – just 6.6 percent of the time this year – but his strikeout rate of 13.2 percent is 11th-lowest in the Eastern League this season.
This winter, Tocci will once again be eligible for the Rule 5 draft. This time, he will have a successful season under his belt. Combined with his defensive prowess in center field, at least one team would probably take a chance on Tocci and see if he could stick in the majors as a bench outfielder.
The Phils have plenty of players they need to protect this winter from the Rule 5 draft, but if they think they have a future major-leaguer in Tocci, they will find a way to keep him in town.