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Matt Vierling Finds His Hitting Identity



With his high exit velocities, Matt Vierling seemed like a good candidate to add launch to his swing. He was 22 years old and playing at High-A Clearwater in his first full professional season in 2019.

The 6-foot-3 righthanded hitter started crouching a little bit and working under the ball. He hit just .232 with five home runs in 118 games that season.

“It was a big learning experience for me,” said Vierling, who started with Double-A Reading and worked his way to the big leagues in 2021. “I was a little bent over thinking it would help my angles, help me lift the ball. I was trying to hit pull-side home runs.

“I realized it didn’t work for me, so I went back to being more upright, more athletic, trusting my hands, trying to hit the ball up the middle.

"As a player, you see guys hitting home runs and you know if you hit home runs it can help you get to the big leagues. But I guess I was trying to be something I wasn’t. It’s really kind of counterintuitive because when I went back to who I was, I started hitting more home runs than when I was trying to.”

Vierling was an eye-opener in Philadelphia in September. He played in 27 games and had 16 hits, including two doubles, a triple and two homers, in 59 at-bats. He saw time in center field and at first base, where he filled in for injured Rhys Hoskins during a playoff chase.

During the season, Vierling played all three outfield positions and both corner infield spots. He has above-average speed and throws well. With his athleticism, versatility and improving bat, the 25-year-old will be in the mix for a spot on the 26-man roster in 2022.

Vierling, a 2018 fifth-rounder out of Notre Dame, has long impressed the Phillies with his exit velocities—even if it resulted in just 23 home runs in 958 career minor league at-bats.

That is beginning to change as Vierling learns more about himself as a hitter.

PHIL-UPS

— The Phillies hired Preston Mattingly as their new farm director. The former Dodgers prospect had spent the previous five years working for the Padres, first as manager of scouting and then as coordinator of major league advance scouting and game-planning. He is the son of Marlins manager Don Mattingly.

— Logan O'Hoppe, the 21-year-old catcher who worked his way from High-A to Triple-A in 2021, continued to shine in the Arizona Fall League. He hit .310/.455/.534 over his first 16 games for Peoria.

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