Just a year and a half after the Phillies selected him in the Rule 5 Draft, outfielder Odubel Herrera found himself lined up among the Major Leagues' best players in the 2016 All-Star Game presented by MasterCard on Tuesday night at Petco Park.Herrera entered as a pinch-hitter for the National
Just a year and a half after the Phillies selected him in the Rule 5 Draft, outfielder Odubel Herrera found himself lined up among the Major Leagues' best players in the 2016 All-Star Game presented by MasterCard on Tuesday night at Petco Park.
Herrera entered as a pinch-hitter for the National League in the sixth inning of a 4-2 loss to the American League, facing the Royals' Kelvin Herrera with one out. After taking the first two pitches for balls, Herrera put a good swing on a 94-mph fastball and lined the pitch to center, right into the glove of the Rangers' Ian Desmond. Herrera said he was looking to hit, not walk, after getting ahead in the count.
:: Complete All-Star Game coverage ::After playing two innings in center field, Herrera was lifted for pinch-hitter Starling Marte in the eighth, ending his All-Star debut.
Asked what he'll remember most about his first Midsummer Classic, Herrera said, "Everything. Especially when the manager told me that I was going to go onto the field."
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The 24-year-old Herrera has enjoyed an impressive follow-up to his breakout rookie campaign, batting .294/.378/.427 in 2016 with 10 home runs and 12 stolen bases. That performance earned him the Phillies' lone All-Star spot.
Thanks in part to the play of their center fielder, the Phillies are 42-48 on the season and on pace to win 75 games, a dramatic improvement over their 63-99 finish in 2015. Herrera said in the second half he hopes "to do a better job, to help the team as much as I can and to make adjustments, keep making adjustments."
Much of Herrera's success can be ascribed to his improved plate discipline, as he's walked at an impressive 11.6 percent clip following a meager 5.2 rate as a rookie.
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"Last year, I was striking out a lot. During the offseason, it was a goal that I put to myself to improve [my plate discipline]. And I think that's what we've seen," he said.
"He's a special guy," said Phillies manager Pete Mackanin. "I call him a hit collector. I don't know how he does it sometimes."
Odubel Herrera Sr. agreed with the skipper's sentiments.
"Basically, [when he reached] the age of 12, I started to realize he could be a great player, possibly a professional player," Herrera's father said at MLB's media day on Monday. Both of Herrera's parents are visiting the United States, carefully following Phillies games.
Alex Putterman is a reporter for MLB.com.