Typically at this point in the offseason, teams in the MLB would be meeting in a city somewhere across the country for the annual Winter Meetings. While COVID-19 has forced the league to cancel the festivities of that event, the Rule 5 Draft that takes place there still went on without a hitch.
With the 13th pick of the draft, the Phillies selected SS Kyle Holder from the New York Yankees. It makes a lot of sense that they chose someone from the Yankees’ system, as one of the high profile members of the scouting department, Amateur Scouting Director Brian Barber spent 18 seasons with New York prior to taking his current position with the Phillies in 2019.
While many people figured that the Rule 5 would be the perfect place for the Phillies to take a flier on a bullpen arm, the team decided to address another area of need here. With Didi Gregorius likely not returning, Jean Segura is the only ‘shortstop’ on the Major League roster (it’s in quotes because I don’t think he is a shortstop anymore). Scott Kingery has experience playing the position, but it takes away from his value, or the little he has left. Nick Maton, the Phillies’ No. 13 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, was added to the 40 man roster earlier this offseason, but he has no experience above Double-A and seems to fit better into that utility role in the Bigs, as opposed to an everyday shortstop. And Bryson Stott is a few years away from making an impact in the MLB, so depth was needed.
Kyle Holder was taken in the first round of the 2015 MLB Draft out of the University of San Diego. While he does have some feel for contact, what got him drafted that high was really his glove. He was a plus defender at shortstop coming out of college, and he has shown an ability to play plus defense at both second base and third base. He spent most of 2020 at the Yankees satellite camp, but had a nice season in Double-A in 2019. That season, his bat sort of turned a corner as he slashed .265/.336/.405 with 9 HRs and 40 RBIs in 112 games (472 PAs).
As part of the rules for Rule 5 draft picks, the Phillies will have to keep Holder on the roster for the entire 2021 season. With the uncertainty surround the pandemic, having similar roster rules as 2020 will make it easier to keep Holder if they so choose. A bench infielder was one of the many holes this team had, especially one that could handle playing shortstop. Holder will never be a star in this league, but he could develop into the type of glue guy that teams with World Series aspirations need.
While it is not the type of move that Phillies fans have been clamoring for, it seems the free agent market is slowly beginning to take shape. It is a step in the right direction for a team that has had their sense of direction placed under the microscope by many fans and those in the media.
Now that we have leadership coming in the form of Dave Dombrowksi, maybe this offseason will begin to pick up steam. I know the fans would certainly like to see that happen