The Phillies, facing uncertainty at shortstop, added some depth to the position when they selected Kyle Holder with the 13th pick in the Rule 5 draft Thursday afternoon.
Holder, 26, was plucked from the New York Yankees organization. He was a first-round draft pick (30th overall) by the Yanks in 2015 and has not played above Double A.
Defense is Holder's strong suit and he projects as a utilityman. Though he is primarily a shortstop, he has played second and third base during his time in the minors.
Holder was one of just three position players chosen by clubs in the big-league phase of the Rule 5 draft. The other two were outfielders. In all, 18 players were chosen and 15 of them were pitchers.
The Phillies, whose farm system rates among the thinnest in baseball, did not lose any players in the big-league portion of the draft. They did lose pitcher Reggie McClain to the Yankees in the minor-league phase. McClain pitched in five games in the majors with the Phillies last season. He was designated for assignment on August 31, cleared waivers and remained in the organization. The Yankees selected him off the Phillies' Double A roster.
Holder was immediately added to the Phillies' 40-man roster, bringing the total number of players to 39. He will be in spring training with the club and, by rule, must spend the whole season in the majors with the Phillies, or another club if he goes on waivers and is claimed, or be offered back to the Yankees.
The Phillies' middle-infield situation is in flux. Didi Gregorius, who held down the shortstop position and an important spot in the batting order for the team last year, is a free agent. Jean Segura, who played mostly third and second base last season, played shortstop for the Phillies in 2019. He could return to the position in 2021, though that would not be ideal because his defense slipped in 2019. Segura's name has come up in trade rumors this offseason, which makes sense. He is owed $30 million through 2022. If the Phils could free up some of that money, it could be used in a bid to re-sign Gregorius or J.T. Realmuto, another free agent.
Scott Kingery can play shortstop, but his best position remains second base and his best role might be super-utility. After that, the Phils have some shortstop depth in Nick Maton, a minor-league prospect who was recently added to the 40-man roster, and Ronald Torreyes, a major-league veteran and Joe Girardi favorite who has agreed to return to the organization on a minor-league deal.
Holder, a left-handed hitter, batted .265 with nine homers, 40 RBIs and a .742 OPS in 112 games at Double A Trenton in 2019. He was part of the Yankees' 60-man player pool during the shortened 2020 season.
Over his minor-league career, Holder has hit .264 with 17 homers, 136 RBIs and a .667 OPS in 1,774 plate appearances.