Herrera named Phillies' lone All-Star

Herrera named Phillies' lone All-Star

PHILADELPHIA -- Long before Phillies fans began to know Odubel Herrera as "El Torito," the energetic, perpetually smiling, always-clapping-after-a-walk, sometimes-flipping-his-bat-after-a-sac-fly Phillies center fielder, the organization used a couple scouting reports and a strong recommendation from one of their own to make him one of the best Rule 5 Draft picks in franchise history.

"We feel like we're taking a shot on a prospect," Phillies professional scouting director Mike Ondo said after selecting Herrera with the eighth pick in the 2014 Rule 5 Draft.

The Phillies got much more than that. They got an All-Star and a key piece to their future. Major League Baseball announced on Tuesday that Herrera is the Phillies' lone representative at the All-Star Game presented by MasterCard at Petco Park at 7:30 p.m. ET on July 12 in San Diego. Herrera entered Tuesday's 5-2 win over the Braves ranked fourth among National League outfielders in on-base percentage (.389) and hits (92), seventh in batting average (.302) and 14th in OPS (.832).

Interactive All-Star Game rosters

"He's a special guy," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. "I call him a hit collector. I don't know how he does it sometimes. He looks so bad at one at-bat and then the next three gets hits."

Herrera joins Dave Hollins and Shane Victorino as Phillies' Rule 5 Draft picks to make an All-Star team.

"It feels great," Herrera said through the Phillies' interpreter. "To me, it is an honor to represent the Phillies, Venezuela and people in Latin America in the All-Star Game. I feel very proud of this moment because I want to show what I'm about and what the Phils are about."

But before Herrera made the NL squad, the Phillies needed to sort through countless scouting reports of potential Rule 5 picks before settling on Herrera. They had seen him in the past as the Phillies combed through the Rangers' farm system for potential trades that involved Cole Hamels, as well as their scouts' normal runs through the Texas League, where Herrera won a batting title in 2014.

Herrera continued to hit that winter in Venezuela.

"There was some concern on our part that he wouldn't get to eight," Ondo said.

But the Phillies got a little lucky that special assistant of player personnel Jorge Velandia managed Herrera's winter ball team. He got to know Herrera as a person, while watching him hit and play in the outfield.

A look at Herrera in the outfield was huge because nobody else with the Phillies had seen him play there before. He came up through the Rangers' system as a second baseman, but his potential in the outfield immediately made him more attractive to the Phillies' front office.

It is safe to say the Phillies might not have picked Herrera without Velandia's strong recommendation.

"I'll be honest, we liked the player," Ondo said, "but a lot had to do with the outfield and knowing the person, knowing what you were getting in the player. That was a huge assist. We were real fortunate that Jorge was there to give us that information."

Fans can vote for the 2016 Esurance MLB All-Star Game Final Vote until 4 p.m. ET on Friday. The winners, as chosen exclusively by online fan voting totals, will be announced during a Final Vote-themed telecast of "MLB Now" featuring commentary from political analyst Jeff Greenfield, live on MLB Network and MLB.com from 4-5 p.m. ET. MLB Network will provide extensive coverage across all of its studio programming during the Final Vote, including interviews with the candidates, frequent updates, heat maps indicating the cities where votes are being cast for each candidate, news on player and club campaigns and a running countdown clock leading up to the announcement.

Baseball fans have cast nearly 600 million online votes for Final Vote candidates since the program's inception in 2002. In addition to MLB.com and the official club websites, fans can use their mobile devices to cast votes at MLB.com/vote or via text message. To receive the ballot, text the word "VOTE" to 89269. To vote for a specific player, fans can text their choice to 89269. EXAMPLE: Text "A3" to vote for AL Player 3 or "N3" to vote for NL Player 3. Message and data rates may apply. Text "STOP" to end and "HELP" for information. Mobile voting in Canada also is available and fans should text their choices to 101010.

For the fifth consecutive year, the Final Vote will include social balloting, as Twitter support for the 10 candidates over the last six hours of balloting will count toward their vote totals. From 10 a.m.-4 p.m. ET on Friday, any tweet that includes a designated player hashtag will be tabulated as part of the official vote total used to determine the winners.

On Tuesday, July 12, watch the 2016 All-Star Game presented by MasterCard live on FOX, and during the game visit MLB.com to submit your choice for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet via the 2016 MLB All-Star Game MVP Vote. The 87th All-Star Game, in San Diego, will be televised nationally by FOX, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 160 countries via MLB International's independent feed. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB.com, MLB Network and SiriusXM will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com.

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Read his Phillies blog The Zo Zone, follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.