Tocci Gives Phillies Two-Way Threat




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Take everyone who has played in pro ball this year—down to the Dominican Summer League and the Venezuelan Summer League—and there are just three players younger than Phillies center fielder Carlos Tocci.

Even Jose Pujols, the power-hitting Dominican outfielder the Phillies signed for $540,000 on July 2, was born one month after Tocci.

So it's even more incredible that Tocci, Philadelphia's big-ticket international signing last year for $759,000 out of Venezuela, is already one of the best hitters in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League at age 16.

Tocci, who turns 17 on Aug. 23, earned strong reviews from international scouts last year as a potential two-way threat. Packed into an ultra-skinny 6-foot-2, 160-pound frame, Tocci showed terrific instincts at the plate and in the field, with plus-plus speed and an advanced approach to hitting from the right side. After missing time early in the year when his neck/upper back was bothering him, Tocci has hit .320/.386/.340 in 57 plate appearances with four walks and eight strikeouts.

"He uses the whole field," GCL Phillies manager Roly De Armas said. "He's just learning the game, but he puts the ball in play a lot. He's facing some good pitching, but for a 16-year-old, what he's doing is amazing."

He's used his speed and basestealing savvy to swipe five bases in six attempts. As for the defense . . .

"Awww, forget about it," De Armas said. "He could play center field in Citizens Bank Park right now. You probably think I'm crazy. Just like Freddy Galvis was at shortstop, this guy is like that in the outfield."

Tocci hasn't shown any power—his only extra-base hit so far is a double—but that was exactly what scouts expected given his youth and light build. Yet even without much pop, Tocci still manages to stand out in batting practice in another way—only it's not with a bat in his hands.

"During BP he's out there working on jumps," De Armas said. "It's amazing to see him during BP. We teach all the kids, that's where you get the jumps on balls, but it's just a pleasure to see him running balls down with ease. He just glides and he knows where it's going to be."