Vierling offers boost when Phils need it most

September 4th, 2021

MIAMI -- is making the most of his opportunities, and that’s just what the Phillies need as they bear down on the Atlanta Braves for the National League East lead.

The Phils' 2018 fifth-round Draft pick, Vierling is doing all he can to help himself and the ballclub, and that includes learning new positions in the field. An outfielder by trade, Vierling is learning on the job at both first and third base. He had never played infield professionally prior to this season, but with Triple-A Lehigh Valley, the 24-year-old played six games at first base and another 11 games at third base.

Recalled by the Phillies on Aug. 31, this is Vierling’s third stint this season with the big league club.

Manager Joe Girardi got his first look at the club’s No. 25 prospect in instructional ball last year.

“I knew he played left, they really liked him, that he had been working at third base, played a little bit at first base,” Girardi said.

Still in the Minors and looking for any and all avenues of making his way to the big leagues, the 6-foot-3, 205-pound Vierling inquired about playing the infield.

“It’s great because it just increases your value as a player,” Girardi said. “You can put him anywhere in the outfield. You can put him at first. With more work maybe you can put him at third, that sort of thing. It’s just great to have that versatility.”

Still in the infancy stages of playing the infield, Vierling has only helped his chances of seeing his name on the lineup card.

“There might be situations that come up that he may not be exactly sure [of], and you might have to position him a little bit just because playing six games at first is not going to help you understand every situation that comes up,” Girardi said. “But he did a good job of catching the ball and everything else.”

Vierling has certainly exceeded expectations at the plate in his first nine games. He singled in his first Major League at-bat on June 19 at San Francisco and has been on fire ever since.

On Aug. 31, he joined Juan Soto, Paul Goldschmidt, Byron Buxton, Rafael Devers, Nelson Cruz, Max Kepler, Ryan McMahon and Aaron Altherr as the only players in the Statcast era (since 2015) with 5 batted balls 102+ mph in a game. He had a career-high four hits in that game, and he became the first Phillies rookie with a four-hit game since Scott Kingery accomplished the feat on July 6, 2018, at Pittsburgh.

Over his first 10 plate appearances since being called up that day, Vierling has put seven balls in play. Only one has produced an out. Six had triple-digit exit velocities: 108.6 mph (single), 106.3 mph (double), 105.6 mph (single), 104.5 mph (ground out), 102.7 mph (single) and 104.6 mph (triple).

Vierling is a product of a Minor League system that has given the Phillies a lift during this stretch run.

“For teams to survive and to thrive, your Minor League players have to come up and help you when there’s injuries, and now we have COVID, and they need to be able to perform,” Girardi said. “I always consider the Minor Leagues your life blood. You need that to be successful.”