Herrera named Phillies' lone All-Star

July 5th, 2016

PHILADELPHIA -- Long before Phillies fans began to know Odubel Herrera as "El Torito," the energetic, perpetually smiling, always-clapping-after-a-walk, sometimes-flipping-his-bat-after-a-sac-fly Phillies center fielder, the organization used a couple scouting reports and a strong recommendation from one of their own to make him one of the best Rule 5 Draft picks in franchise history.
"We feel like we're taking a shot on a prospect," Phillies professional scouting director Mike Ondo said after selecting Herrera with the eighth pick in the 2014 Rule 5 Draft.
The Phillies got much more than that. They got an All-Star and a key piece to their future. Major League Baseball announced on Tuesday that Herrera is the Phillies' lone representative at the All-Star Game presented by MasterCard at Petco Park at 7:30 p.m. ET on July 12 in San Diego. Herrera entered Tuesday's 5-2 win over the Braves ranked fourth among National League outfielders in on-base percentage (.389) and hits (92), seventh in batting average (.302) and 14th in OPS (.832).
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"He's a special guy," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. "I call him a hit collector. I don't know how he does it sometimes. He looks so bad at one at-bat and then the next three gets hits."
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Herrera joins Dave Hollins and Shane Victorino as Phillies' Rule 5 Draft picks to make an All-Star team.
"It feels great," Herrera said through the Phillies' interpreter. "To me, it is an honor to represent the Phillies, Venezuela and people in Latin America in the All-Star Game. I feel very proud of this moment because I want to show what I'm about and what the Phils are about."
But before Herrera made the NL squad, the Phillies needed to sort through countless scouting reports of potential Rule 5 picks before settling on Herrera. They had seen him in the past as the Phillies combed through the Rangers' farm system for potential trades that involved Cole Hamels, as well as their scouts' normal runs through the Texas League, where Herrera won a batting title in 2014.
Herrera continued to hit that winter in Venezuela.
"There was some concern on our part that he wouldn't get to eight," Ondo said.
But the Phillies got a little lucky that special assistant of player personnel Jorge Velandia managed Herrera's winter ball team. He got to know Herrera as a person, while watching him hit and play in the outfield.
A look at Herrera in the outfield was huge because nobody else with the Phillies had seen him play there before. He came up through the Rangers' system as a second baseman, but his potential in the outfield immediately made him more attractive to the Phillies' front office.
It is safe to say the Phillies might not have picked Herrera without Velandia's strong recommendation.
"I'll be honest, we liked the player," Ondo said, "but a lot had to do with the outfield and knowing the person, knowing what you were getting in the player. That was a huge assist. We were real fortunate that Jorge was there to give us that information."
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