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The New Look Phillies: Andrew Pullin

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Clinton Riddle looks at another interesting Philadelphia farmhand

MLB: Spring Training-New York Yankees at Philadelphia Phillies
Andrew Pullin
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Here’s another Philadelphia Phillies prospect to keep track of: Andrew Pullin, LF (.272/.327/.488, 20 HR, 69 RBI, 43 doubles in 134 games evenly split between Double-A Reading and Triple-A Lehigh Valley)

Depending on who you ask, Pullin is either a future 4th outfielder in the big leagues, or he could become an everyday player with potential for above-average contact rates.

Drafted in the 5th round in 2012 out of Centralia High School in Washington state, Pullin was actually a switch-pitcher (you read that right) before he garnered notice as a standout hitter. He was originally worked out at second base, though he has moved to left field since joining the pro ranks. Second base didn’t work out so well for him (26 errors in 123 games at Class-A Lakewood in 2014), but he has since taken to left with relative ease.

Pullin began his pro career with the GCL Phillies in 2012, batting .321 in 41 games. He posted an .838 OPS, though almost half of that was accounted for by a .403 OBP (.436 SLG). He did smack ten doubles, however.

In 2013, Pullin advanced to short-season Williamsport, where his power increased slightly but his slash line dropped across the board (.261/.283/.412) over 51 games. He ended up with 21 XBH (13 doubles, five triples, three homers), but pressed a bit against older competition (seven walks, 37 strikeouts in 219 PA).

2014 was his first, true test, as he headed to Class-A Lakewood. At age 20, Pullin was still 1.5 years younger than the average South Atlantic League player, but he acquitted himself reasonably well (.270 BA, 30 XBH, 61 RBI in 129 games). The power hadn’t truly manifested itself, but he more than held his own. He bumped up his walks total considerably, drawing 41 over 544 PA against 95 strikeouts.

Advancing once more in 2015, this time to High-A Clearwater, Pullin’s power numbers increased only slightly (18 doubles, 14 homers in 123 games). Still, at age 21 in his first exposure to the Florida State League, while not setting the house on fire, at least he didn’t crash and burn.

The 2016 season was a considerable improvement for Pullin, and a pivotal year for reasons that involved more than on-field performance. After stepping away from the game altogether, returning home to Centralia, Washington, Pullin came back to High-A Clearwater once more. It seemed to be more of a chance for him to step back from the game, to take a moment to exhale, than a “retirement”, as it was labeled on the MiLB website.

While he spent 36 games back at Clearwater to begin the year (17 XBH, .796 OPS), his bat took off on his advancement to Double-A Reading (10 doubles, 10 homers, .952 OPS in 46 games). After a painfully-slow start to the year in May, shaking off the rust (.221 BA, .653 OPS in 19 games), he posted a .954 OPS from June 1st to June 22nd (17 games), prompting his advancement to the Eastern League. In 21 games with the Fightin’ Phils in July, Pullin batted .337 and slugged .512 in the process. Twenty-two games in August brought more of the same (.326 BA, .926 OPS).

When Pullin slugged 22 doubles and 14 homers in his first 67 games of 2017 at Reading, he stepped up to Triple-A and the Lehigh Valley IronPigs. While the power remained (21 doubles in 67 Triple-A games), Pullin’s slash line dropped considerably (.231/.280/.412), due at least in part to Reading’s favorable HR/FB% experienced by most power hitters.

For Pullin, his percentage went from 18.9% in Double-A in 2016 and 16.1% in 2017, to 8.8% in Triple-A. Indeed, FirstEnergy Stadium, home of the Fightin’ Phils, ranked 1st in the Eastern League in home runs per game (1.482), a factor that plays into the analysis of any Phillies prospect who spends considerable time there.

Pullin’s best tool is his hitting ability, already average-or-above and likely to climb enough to make him a dependable, high-average hitter. He will probably produce doubles/gap power at his peak, but players who make frequent contact often run into a few fastballs over the course of a season and Pullin will be no exception.

He should produce at least slightly-below-average home run totals, but his value as a run-producing bat would increase considerably if he can start driving the ball the other way with regularity (27.3 oppo % in 2017; 28.2 in 2016). He’s roughly average, speed-wise, but he will cover enough ground to play in left field or move back to second base in the event the Phillies give that another try.

Depending on his offensive peak, he could end up getting time at first base in the future; think circa 1992 Mark Grace (as a hitter) with less glove value, more homers, and more strikeouts, if he hits his peak. Pullin’s ability to shorten up on his swing will obviously help him as he advances to the big leagues, but he’ll have to back off the pull-happy tendency he has fallen into at times over the past few years.

At present, Pullin is a line-drive hitter with some game-time power who will continue to improve and adjust over the next two-three seasons. Barring collapse in 2018 at Triple-A, where he is likely to begin the year, Pullin will make his MLB debut perhaps as soon as the mid-season mark. The Phillies aren’t going to be pushing for a playoff appearance, anytime soon, so there’s no reason to rush him along.