Phillies Find CF Help in Rule 5 Draft

inciarteThe Phillies found at least one potential centerfielder this morning at the Winter Meetings.

They selected Ender Inciarte from the Arizona Diamondbacks in the Rule 5 Draft.

Inciarte, 22, is not expected to be the Phillies’ Opening Day centerfielder, but he provides depth at a position that sorely needs it. He split last season with Class A South Bend and Visalia, where he hit a combined .307 with 28 doubles, 10 triples, 47 RBIs, 82 runs scored and 46 stolen bases.

“We like the defensive ability,” Phillies pro scouting director Mike Ondo said. “We think he’s an above average defender in center field, and an above average runner. The reports we get are that he has the instincts to play the game and a guy we can trust to run out there to play defense late.”

Inciarte has little power, but he has plenty of speed.

“From everything we’ve seen, that’s the type of game he tries to play,” Ondo said.

Of course, the trick is making the jump from Class A to the big leagues. Inciarte would have to remain with the Phillies’ 25-man roster the entire season. If he does not, the Phillies have to offer him back to the Diamondbacks.

“Is it realistic?” Ondo said. “I think there’s a chance. We’ve seen this guy. We’ve seen him during the year at two different spots. We saw him in Venezuela (in Winter Ball). Just on the defense, our guys think he has instincts to play the outfield. With his tools we think he’s a guy, at least initially, that could fill in defensively as a late-inning replacement, pinch-run.

“There’s still some prospect value in him. But we think he is an advanced outfielder.”

The Phillies also selected left-hander Brendan Lafferty from the Kansas City Royals in the Minor League portion of the draft. Lafferty, 26, went 1-1 with a 4.77 ERA in 43 relief appearances with Double-A Northwest Arkansas. He struck out 71 batters in 60 1/3 innings. He held left-handed hitters to a .143 average. He hits 95 mph on the radar gun, although his fastball sits in the 92 mph range.

The Phillies selected him in the 47th round of the 2004 First-Year Player Draft, but he did not sign.

The Phillies lost no players in any phase of the Rule 5 Draft.

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