Kendall Simmons opened a lot of eyes in the organization when he made the short-season New York-Penn League all-star and led that league with a .520 slugging percentage in 2019.
The 20-year-old second baseman continued to impress at instructional league this fall.
“He’s a good player, man,” farm director Josh Bonifay said. “Our staff did a great job staying in contact with our guys during the Covid shutdown, and you can tell Kendall took that time very seriously. He’s come in and swung the bat extremely well.”
The Phillies drafted Simmons out of high school in the sixth round in 2018 and lured him away from a Georgia Tech commitment with an over-slot bonus of $750,000.
Athletic and strong bodied at 6 feet, 195 pounds, Simmons is a righthanded hitter who plays second base, third base and shortstop. He gets good marks for his footwork, throwing arm, knowledge of the game and up-tempo style of play.
But Simmons’ bat is what stands out most. Despite hitting just .234 in 51 games at Williamsport in 2019, Simmons ranked fifth in the NYPL with a .854 OPS and tied for second with 12 home runs. He added seven doubles and three triples in 51 games and drove in 34 runs.
“His bat speed is off the charts, and he has one of the highest average exit velocities in our system,” said Bonifay, adding that Simmons’ best exit velocity during instructional league was 110.2 mph. “We like the power and we like the bat-to-ball skills. He’s a very interesting prospect. He’s aggressive and plays with a lot of passion.”
Bonifay believes that Simmons’ elite bat speed will help him hit for average as he climbs the ladder.
“The bat speed allows him to make up time,” Bonifay said. “He can really wait on a pitch, see it deep, and make a good decision without chasing.”
Simmons will turn 21 in April. The Phillies are eager to see him play a full minor league season next year. Before then, they would love to see him get playing time this winter and were efforting a placement in the Australian Baseball League.
— Righthander Blake Brown, signed in June as a nondrafted free agent after four years at UNC Asheville, impressed with his power—he sat at 96 mph and topped out at 98—and his slider during the instructional league.
— The Phillies’ low Class A affiliate in the South Atlantic League has rebranded itself as the Jersey Shore BlueClaws. The team was founded as the Lakewood BlueClaws in 2001.