TAMPA, Fla. -- Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg liked what he saw Wednesday afternoon from Rule 5 Draft pick Odubel Herrera, who went 3-for-4 with three stolen bases and two runs scored in a 3-1 victory over the Yankees at George M. Steinbrenner Field.
"A lot stood out," Sandberg said. "A spark plug at the top [of the lineup]. Great job with the stolen bases, getting in scoring position, which was big in a 3-1 game. He did a good job of squaring balls up and staying on top of the ball, hard grounders, line drives. Real heads up play with the stolen bases."
Herrera has the inside track for one of five available bench jobs, because the Phillies are thinking beyond 2015. Having him on the 25-man roster the entire season to keep him in the organization beyond this year makes sense, especially if he continues to hit. Herrera batted .321 with 16 doubles, four triples, two home runs, 48 RBIs, 12 stolen bases and a .775 OPS in Double-A Frisco (Texas), where he won the league batting title. His OPS ranked 10th among Texas League hitters with 300 or more plate appearances.
Herrera then hit .372 with 14 doubles, three triples, six home runs, 27 RBIs, eight stolen bases and a .988 OPS in Venezuelan winter ball, where he also won the batting title.
Herrera is expected to play all three outfield positions this spring, but he has played second base and shortstop in the past, so he has versatility defensively.
Herrera, 23, has some speed. He succeeded in 128 of 178 stolen-base attempts (71.9 percent) in his career. He went 8-for-8 in winter ball.
Sandberg said Herrera was given the green light to steal in certain situations, and he took advantage.
"It was an on-and-off green," Sandberg said. "There were some reds in there, because there were left-handed pitchers in there. There were some reasons. He was running really well. He seems to be real fluid in center field. He seems to go to the right spot."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, The Zo Zone, and follow him on Twitter ToddZolecki. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.