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Rule 5 Profile: Ender Inciarte

The Phillies made a Rule 5 pick today, selecting left-handed hitting and throwing outfielder, Ender Inciarte, from the Arizona Diamondbacks. I had no idea who the hell that was. Alas, I promised to write up whomever the Phillies were to select. So, I have for you a little diddy on Inciarte based on the opinions of a few sources (some public, some private) and a little derived from what I could surmise via video I found online.

Ender Inciarte is a 21 year-old Venezuelan outfielder with some interesting tools but potentially crippling deficiencies. ┬áMostly, at just 5’11” and 160lbs, he’s limited by a small frame that doesn’t produce any power. He is not strong with that bat at all. It often looks as though a good fastball will knock the bat out of his hands. This is not only an issue for power but also creates problems with making strong, line drive contact that, you know, produces base hits. Whether or not there’s projection left in the body (the ability to add strength may help him overcome that stuff) remains to be seen. I’ve got to see Inciarte in person to evaluate that to my liking. His lack of physicality also plays a role in his ability to get on base at the highest of stage of competition. Sure, Inciarte posted an impressive .376 OBP between two levels last year, but he’s now thrust into the Major Leagues. Big league arms aren’t going to pitch around the guy with 20 raw power. They’re going to attack him with strikes. Less balls to take means less walks and more putting the ball in play, weakly, which means more outs.

Defensively is where Inciarte shines. He covers a ton of ground thanks to plus legs and reports I’m getting say he’s got enough raw ability with the glove to stick in CF. I got conflicting reports about the refinement of his skills out there, however. Those legs will come in handy on the bases, too. I don’t like minor league numbers at all, especially at the low levels where Inciarte spent 2012, but he stole 46 bases in 58 tries last year. That’s about an 80% success rate.

Now the question is, “will he stick?” Remember, Rule 5 rules state that the player has to be placed on your 25 man roster for the duration of the season, lest he be returned to his original club. There are ways to circumvent that rule. Inciarte could “get hurt” at some point and have nice, long periods of rehab in the minors like Lendy Castillo did last year. If the Phillies have room to stash Inciarte on the active roster as a defensive replacement for the entire 2013 season, then send him back to the minors to see if the bat develops, that’s just fine. With the news that just broke regarding Ben Revere, I’m not sure it’ll happen. There are tools with which to work. I’ll be watching.