Odubel Herrera was one of two players the Phillies selected during the Rule 5 draft over the winter (from the Texas Rangers) along with pitcher Andy Oliver (Pittsburgh Pirates).
The Phillies are certainly no strangers to that part of the off-season — they nabbed Shane Victorino in 2004’s Rule 5 draft from the Los Angeles Dodgers — but in recent years, they’ve been inconsequential. In December 2012, the Phillies took outfielder Ender Inciarte from the Arizona Diamondbacks, but returned him shortly after the start of the 2013 season. A stipulation for keeping a player from the Rule 5 draft is that the acquiring team has to keep him on the 25-man roster all season. Inciarte turned in a decent year with the D-Backs last season, posting a .303 weighted on-base average with 19 stolen bases.
This year, Herrera is the big gamble and he stands a much better chance of remaining on the Phillies’ roster as they’re now officially in a rebuild mode. In 2012, they fancied themselves contenders still. Herrera, 23, led the Texas League (Double-A) in batting average last season at .321 in 408 plate appearances. He didn’t show much in the way of power (only two home runs plus 16 doubles and four triples with Double-A Frisco) but showcased decent speed (21 stolen bases in 31 attempts) and was voted the best defensive second baseman in Baseball America’s Best Tools survey. The Phillies are using him in the outfield, given their current needs. At worst, the Phillies will have attempted to turn him into a more versatile player.