A 30-year-old rookie, Joey Meneses shined as a Phillies prospect in 2018.
Joey Meneses appears to be one that got away for the Philadelphia Phillies.
After playing 10 seasons in Minor League Baseball for four different organizations — including 130 games for the Phillies’ Triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs affiliate in 2018 — the Mexico native made his long-awaited Major League debut with the Washington Nationals on August 2.
The 30-year-old rookie replaced Josh Bell on the Nationals roster and has done nothing but impressed for the otherwise struggling National League East club.
Considering Meneses was named the 2018 International League MVP and nearly won the league’s triple crown as a Phillies prospect — slashing .311/.360/.510 with 27 doubles, 23 home runs, and 82 RBI — it is hard to accept that the first baseman and corner outfielder is not wearing red pinstripes four years later.
Facing the division-leading New York Mets in his Major League debut last month, Meneses helped the Nationals to a 5-1 win with a home run. He went on to homer five more times in August — while producing six doubles and 10 RBI — en route to a .333/.367/.591 overall slash line.
Meneses started September off on a strong note on Thursday — producing a career-best four hits, including his first walk-off home run in the bottom of the 10th against the Oakland Athletics. The three-run blast lifted the Nationals to a 7-5 win and improved his rookie season totals to seven home runs,15 RBI, and a 1.011 OPS across more than 100 plate appearances.
Meneses produced not only his first walk-off moment, but the first for the entire Nationals team overall in 2022.
The Phillies had a chance to promote Meneses to their big-league roster in their first year under manager Gabe Kapler in 2018 — but instead chose other options before ultimately collapsing that September. The Phillies released him after the season so he can pursue an opportunity with Japan’s Orix Buffaloes of Nippon Professional Baseball.
Meneses returned to the U.S. last year to play in the minors for the Boston Red Sox, before joining the Nationals organization this past January. He began his professional career playing seven seasons in the Atlanta Braves organization — reaching as high as Double-A in 2016 and 2017.
After hitting 20 home runs and 64 RBI earlier this year at Triple-A Rochester, the Nationals made the smart decision to give their roster a spark of energy with Meneses — considering since they had traded away sluggers Bell and Juan Soto to the San Diego Padres.
So far, it seems like the Nationals made the overwhelmingly right decision. The Phillies, meanwhile, seem to have made a huge mistake letting Meneses leave for Japan.