Looking to add some outfield depth, the Phillies took a chance and plucked Odubel Herrera, an infielder turned outfielder, out of the Texas Rangers’ system in the Rule 5 draft at the 2014 winter meetings.
The Phillies had good reports on Herrera’s athleticism and ability to swing the bat, but as with any Rule 5 player, they weren’t really sure what they were getting.
Eighteen months later, the Phillies know exactly what they have in Herrera.
The 24-year-old from Venezuela was selected to the National League All-Star team on Tuesday night. Herrera was the only Phillie selected to the team. The game will be played next Tuesday night in San Diego.
"To me, it is an honor to represent the Phillies, Venezuela and people in Latin America in the All-Star Game," Herrera said after Tuesday night's 5-1 win over Atlanta (see Instant Replay). "It feels great.
"I feel very proud of this moment because I want to show what I’m about and what the Phillies are about."
Earlier in the day, Phillies manager Pete Mackanin offered the opinion that Herrera deserved to be an All-Star.
“I’d be surprised if he does not make it,” Mackanin said. “He’s a natural hitter, a born hitter. He could swing any way he wants and I think he’d get hits.”
Herrera saw some time in the outfield in the Texas system in 2014, but made the conversion full-time later that year during the Venezuelan winter league season. He was that league’s batting champion and rookie of the year and caught the eye of Phillies scouts and officials.
The Phils selected Herrera with the eighth pick in the Rule 5 draft that December. Not only did he make the team, he became the opening day centerfielder and established himself as a foundation piece on the team by hitting .324 with a .832 OPS over 97 games after June 1.
Herrera has continued to improve this season. Entering Tuesday night’s game, he was hitting .303 with 10 homers and 32 RBIs. He ranked in the top 10 in the NL in walks (43), hits (93), batting average with runners in scoring position (.365) and outfield assists (7).
Herrera's teammates were happy for him.
"A couple of guys have talked to me and told me to take advantage of the moment and enjoy it because it is wonderful," Herrera said.