It’s, as they say, a good problem to have.
According to the Phillies’ director of player development Joe Jordan the collection of talent at a key position is something the Phillies’ brass has discussed considerably.
|Cesar Hernandez, image- Jay Floyd|
Through 21 games this season, heading into action on Saturday, Hernandez has tallied a .318 batting average with four doubles, a triple, four home runs, 10 RBI and three stolen bases. Hernandez mashed just six homers last season in 155 games played with the Phillies. His surge in power and a solid ability to drive the ball has been attributed to a quality workout program last off-season, which reportedly saw the talented Venezuelan add 15 pounds of muscle to his typical middle infielder frame, as well as a refined swing following a benching last summer.
Jordan describes Hernandez as “a guy who's really morphed into a terrific looking major league player”.
Behind Hernandez, though, is a crop of excellent prospects that are garnering a lot of attention throughout the Phils’ developmental ranks.
In Triple-A, Jesmuel Valentin, who had a terrific exhibition campaign in the Grapefruit League, continues to impress. The 22-year-old is batting .271 with three doubles, a homer and six RBI through 18 games for the Lehigh Valley IronPigs. Versatile in the field, the son of former big leaguer Jose Valentin can also play shortstop and third base along with the outfield as well.
“Valentin's a hell of a good baseball player and I think that, he's a switch-hitter, he had a really good (spring training) and was under strong consideration to make the big league club out of spring training,” Jordan said.
Valentin tallied a .366 batting average with six doubles and four RBI in 21 spring games with the big league team this spring. He was acquired from the Dodgers in 2014 as part of the Roberto Hernandez trade after he had been a supplementary 1st round draft choice of Los Angeles in 2012.
|Scott Kingery, image- Jay Floyd|
In spring training, the righty hitter batted .286 with a double, two homers and three RBI with a steal in 10 games.
“I think that Kingery showed very well (in spring training also),” Jordan stated. “He's got catalyst potential, a hard-nosed player, you know, maybe a 70 runner, premium defense.”
That assessment is gleaming. But the organization and Jordan aren’t done yet. High hopes surround one more second base prospect at a lower level.
With Lakewood in the Class A South Atlantic League, Daniel Brito, a 19-year-old Venezuelan, has swiftly become that team’s offensive jewel. From the lead-off spot, the young lefty batter sports a .333 average with two doubles, three home runs and five stolen bases through 22 games.
“Brito, you know, honestly, five years from now, he might be the best hitter of the bunch,” Jordan suggested.
All of this depth translates to wealth for the Phillies. An abundance of valuable players at a critical position up the middle can help the organization in more ways than one.
With a crowded scene, the Phils could potentially use some of these options to fill some other essential spots.
“I think those decisions are made, you know, at the appropriate time,” Jordan explained. “If we have players playing good they're either going to help us or help get something we need. That's reality. That's professional baseball.”
Jordan stressed, however, that his job is player development and that entails maximizing the abilities of everyone and getting each of them ready for what’s ahead.
Maximize away, Mr. Jordan and staff. Maximize away.