Monday, January 17, 2011

ProspectNation 2011: #19 Aaron Altherr

After splitting his second season of professional baseball with the Gulf Coast League Phillies and the Williamsport Crosscutters, outfielder Aaron Altherr is already turning heads and moving up the Phillies prospect rankings at a fast pace. A 9th round selection in the 2009 draft, the 20-year-old Altherr is known to be a contact hitter.

The righty hitting Altherr debuted with the Gulf Coast League Phillies after signing his first professional contract in 2009 and batted .214 with 1 HR, 11 RBI and 6 steals in 28 games. In 1 less game played in the GCL this past season, Altherr showed improvement and posted a .304 batting average with 1 HR, 15 RBI and 10 steals. He was promoted to Williamsport on July 22nd.

With the short season Class A Crosscutters of the New York-Penn League, Altherr continued a strong season with a .287 average, 7 doubles, 3 triples, 10 RBI and 2 steals in 28 games. Altherr made such a strong impression that he was named one of the NYPL's top 20 prospects by Baseball America. Additionally, Baseball America listed him among the top 10 prospects in the Gulf Coast League following his near even split for the season between the two leagues. Altherr began his year in extended spring training.

As a young hitter, Altherr struggled with pitch recognition and focused greatly, in 2010, on his need to hit opposing pitchers' change ups. His improvements were clear in his statistics, as the season went on. In the GCL, Altherr struck out 22 times and reached via walk only 3 times. After his promotion, Altherr struck out just 13 times and increased his walks to 8.

At 6'5", 180 pounds, Altherr is regarded as one of several raw, but extremely athletic, outfielders that the Phillies have collected in the annual amateur draft over the past few years. A key to Altherr's game, much like the other unseasoned talent, is that he has athleticism that can not be taught.

Altherr, who was born in Germany, played shortstop and was a premiere pitcher at Agua Fria High School in Arizona, but was moved to the outfield once he began his career in the Phillies organization.

Expect to see the man with the projected high ceiling, Altherr, suit up for A Level Lakewood in the coming season, as he will attempt to help the BlueClaws chase a third straight South Atlantic League championship.

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