The Phillies’ farm system is better known for developing pitchers than it is developing hitters, but they’ve made strides on the offensive side of late.
The Phillies brought in a new director of hitting, Luke Murton, who has built more swing analysis into the organization’s approach. The types of swings they value has changed.
Lefthanded-hitting catcher Caleb Ricketts is an example of that.
The 2022 seventh-rounder out of the University of San Diego has good bat speed and a simple, direct swing. It has allowed him to make a lot of hard contact, which he has shown in pro ball.
In his pro debut with Low-A Clearwater last summer, Ricketts hit .259/.362/.370 in 22 games. Back in the Florida State League this season, the 23-year-old hit .379/.402/.552 through 20 games.
“He’s a really big-bodied kid who works hard and has a really good swing,” Phillies farm director Preston Mattingly said. “He’s done nothing but have success since he got into pro baseball. He’s got a unique skill set for his size. Really good bat-to-ball skills with developing power, too.
“We’ve seen him use the whole field, which we love. I think where he can improve is really with his strike-zone awareness . . . and developing an understanding of which pitches to swing at. But we think a guy of his size, with his contact ability, will be able to develop into more and more power.”
The 6-foot-3, 225-pound Ricketts began catching when he was in college and is still getting used to the position. The Phillies are going to give him a chance to stick at the position.
“As he continues to grow in the catching position, with him being such a big frame, we’d like to continue to make his transfer (from glove to throwing hand) shorter and quicker,” Mattingly said. “We’d like to continue to build his arm strength, too.
“We see him as an offensive catcher who has the chance to add the hit and power combo.”