|C. Tocci, image- Jay Floyd|
Right from the start of his career, the Venezuelan born outfielder was tasked with very challenging assignments. Tocci says that one of the things that resulted in him choosing to sign with the Phillies was that they pledged to allow him to begin his pro career in the United States instead of playing at home in the Venezuelan Summer League.
After participating in the Phillies’ fall instructional league in 2011, Tocci debuted in the minors with the rookie level Gulf Coast League Phillies in 2012, batting .278 with two doubles, nine RBI and nine stolen bases in 38 games. The following year, as a 17-year-old, he played the entire season with the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws. Struggling against more experienced pitching, Tocci posted a .209/.261/.249 slash line in 118 games.
The unimpressive numbers didn’t sour the Phillies on his ceiling, though, as the organization maintained its opinion of the young righty batter as a very promising prospect. Tocci is a guy that has always been praised for his maturity, which coaches like a lot.
In a repeat campaign with Lakewood in 2014, Tocci, who grew up admiring MLB slugger and fellow Venezuelan Miguel Cabrera, continued to adapt to the elder competition, seeing some improvement at the plate with a .242/.297/.324 slash line in 125 games.
He entered his age 19 season in 2015 with plenty left to prove in the Class A South Atlantic League, so Tocci returned to Lakewood and posted impressive offensive numbers, at long last. Earning a nod as an All-Star while posting a .321 batting average with two homers, 25 RBI and 14 steals in 16 opportunities.
At mid-season, Tocci was promoted to Class A Advanced Clearwater, where he sported a .258 average with a pair of home runs and 18 RBI in 68 games.
The 2016 season was a notable one for Tocci, who spent an entire season with Clearwater, tallying a .284 average with 26 doubles, two triples, three homers and 50 RBI.
This off-season Tocci had a solid campaign with the Tigres in Venezuela. In 59 games the 21-year-old posted .323 average with a homer and 28 RBI.
A lack of raw power for the six-foot-two 160-pounder is evidenced by the fact that it took 862 professional at bats before Tocci launched his first round-tripper, but he has begun to display a greater ability to drive the ball in recent season. The Phils have long wanted for Tocci to add strength to his thin six-foot-two 160-pound frame. He worked on that for four straight off-seasons, with a team-mandated workout plan and in-person training at the organization’s facilities in Florida. Touted as a contact hitter that has made loads of improvements at recognizing pitches, if Tocci can add the muscle, his offensive game will be much better off.
Featuring above average speed, Tocci certainly can become a threat to steal bases. He was successful in 13 of 19 attempts last season for the Threshers, which leaves room for improvement at getting reads on the opposition and better first steps.
Described as a glider, Tocci has excellent range in the outfield and shines defensively with his glove. He’s already a plus defender that can amaze on that side of the game.
With plenty of outfield depth in the Phils organization, Tocci could become a trade chip for the club that originally signed him, as players such as Odubel Herrera, Aaron Altherr, Tyler Goeddel, Nick Williams, Dylan Cozens, Roman Quinn and others may block Tocci’s path to the big leagues.
Expect Tocci to make his Double-A debut in 2017, likely opening the season on the Reading Fightin Phils roster. His efforts in the Eastern League this year should be telling for his future.
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