The Philadelphia Phillies have a dilemma regarding who will be their starting center fielder at the start of their very important 2021 season. With just 14 spring training games to go, no player has yet to take the “bull by the horns” and claim the position.
The Phillies have plenty of center field options to choose from.
Scott Kingery or Adam Haseley — with Roman Quinn coming in as a platoon option for left-handed pitching — seemed to be the most feasible center field scenario entering spring training. Well, Kingery has looked as lost at the plate, as he was last year. And while both Haseley and Quinn have looked like plausible options, unexpected production from other names in camp are beginning to gain traction as playing time competition.
A former No. 1 overall pick out of high school, Mickey Moniak was touted highly by scouts as a five-tool outfielder who would eventually be a perennial 20-25 homer guy — with all the speed and hitting ability to become a star. Well, it hasn’t happened yet, and fans that follow the minor league system are well aware of Moniak’s struggles at the plate, specifically the piling of strikeouts and weak contact. That being said, he still fared okay as one of the youngest players at each stage of his career.
This spring, we’ve seen a filled-out version of Moniak that is putting the club on notice, launching a pair of homers early, and going 6-for-14 in spring training. He looks comfortable, confident, and powerful early on — and all the other tools are still there. I love that the guy is reminding everyone of the player he can be, and all signs point to future success. I’d put him ahead of a few of the other options the Phillies have, based on pedigree and ability to make adjustments.
Odubel Herrera is another surprise. He continues to flash All-Star abilities he showed during a rebuilding era of Phillies baseball. There have been talks about simply allowing Herrera to play his way on the team, or into a trade, but it’s hard to cut a guy when he’s showing this kind of promise. Launching balls into the stratosphere and playing a solid center field usually gets a guy a job, but Herrera has more to prove than his ballplaying ability to stick around.
Herrera might be better suited to getting a fresh start somewhere else, but at the very least, “El Torito” is putting pressure on others to outperform him. Among those include Kingery, who has work to do to justify even having a spot on the 26-man roster. Going 3-for-22 with 10 strikeouts is not a good way to be in the front office’s good graces. What’s more, the Phillies have a significant investment in a guy like Moniak, so they may be willing to give him a go at some point during the season — if not to open it.
It’s just nice to see some serious competition at a position that’s been missing a legitimate star in center field since the Shane Victorino days.