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Checking in on Phillies Rule 5 pick Odubel Herrera

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Do you think the Rangers would like to have him back?

Odubel Herrera
Odubel Herrera
Elsa/Getty Images

The Texas Rangers currently have 87 players on the disabled list (actually the real numbers is ten including six pitchers). Sophomore Rougned Odor was just sent down to the minors after hitting .144/.252/.233 in 29 games. Carlos Corporan, Adam Rosales, Robinson Chirinos, and Carlos Peguero are all hitting less than .200 and Leonys Martin is barely over that line. The Rangers are at 15-20 and in fourth place in the American League West.

In other words, it hasn't been a great year thus far for the Texans.

Over in Philadelphia, things are even worse for the Phillies, standing at 15-23 in fifth place in the National League East. At least they haven't been hit as hard by injuries, with just three pitchers on the 60-day DL and no hitters on the shelf. One of the brighter spots for this depressing season has been the performance of rookie Odubel Herrera, who was picked out of the Rangers system in last December's Rule 5 draft. Through 35 games he's hitting .274/.302/.387, trailing only Ryan Howard and Freddy Galvis among Phillies regulars in OPS.

Herrera has some flaws; his BB/K/PA ratio is quite weak at 5/34/130 and he obviously needs some tightening with the strike zone. Still, he's held his own considering the relatively stiff jump from Double-A last year to the majors this year without any intervening Triple-A exposure. He's stolen five bases in six attempts and he's drawn good reviews for his defense in center field, winning manager Ryne Sandberg's confidence as the everyday option.

Unless something really strange happens, Herrera will stick with the Phillies all year and there's no way the Rangers will get him back. Given his minor league track record (career .294/.354/.377, including .321/.373/.402 last year in Double-A, with 128 career steals), one wonders why Herrera was left exposed to Rule 5 in the first place. He wasn't too old to be a prospect, turning 23 over the winter, and he's always hit well.

Defense was the main issue. Brought through the system as a middle infielder, Herrera was distinctly below average at shortstop and marginally acceptable at second. He did show improved reliability as he moved up, gradually lowering his error rate, but his range wasn't very good and the Rangers just had guys that they liked better. He also didn't look like a middle infielder with his 5-11, 200 pound body.

Despite the height/weight data Herrera actually runs well and has been competent in center field. He's done this with virtually no pre-existing experience, playing outfield for a grand total of 13 games (11 of those in left) in his entire minor league career.

Herrera still has weaknesses to address but it seems apparent he can be a fine role player. He was a good Rule 5 pick, he will stick, and the injury-plagued Rangers could have used him.