The snow on the ground indicates it is way too early to tell, but Odubel Herrera is creating a hopeful buzz among Phillies fans and throughout the organization that he may be a much-needed bright spot in 2015. The Phillies picked him up from Texas in the Rule 5 draft, and could award him a bench spot on the 25-man roster.
The Rule 5 draft will carry a special place in fans’ hearts and minds for many years, since that rule provided the Phillies with Shane Victorino in 2005. Those types of second or even third chance players tend to win over Philadelphians who immediately connect to players that aren’t afraid of working hard to come from behind. In his first game of the spring, Herrera started in centerfield and went 3 for 4 with two runs scored and three stolen bases. With Jimmy Rollins now in blue pinstripes, the Phillies could certainly use a player with an aggressive running game like Herrera has shown against the Yankees in his debut. He is able to play all three outfield positions, but also has experience playing in the middle infield. That seems especially interesting given the fact that Freddy Galvis is the short answer to play shortstop, but has yet to prove that his bat belongs in the majors. His double-play partner is already nursing a sprained ankle, which wouldn’t normally cause concern, but when that ankle is attached to the injury-prone legs of 36 year-old Chase Utley, it seems good to have several infield options.
With the Phillies’ last-place status, there are plenty of opportunities for young guys like Herrera to make a statement. According to Ryne Sandberg, he looks like a “spark-plug at the top of the lineup,” a role reminiscent of Victorino, who took over full-time center field duties in 2006. We all know what happened two years later. Now, most would not predict the Phillies will be World Series bound in 2017. But, then again, baseball is a funny game full of second or third chances. I’m off to shovel.