Over the last three days we have watched Clearwater Threshers outfielder Aaron Altherr go deep twice. On Sunday he broke open a scoreless seven inning game with a two run home run in the bottom of the sixth for the win against the Dunedin Blue Jays. Last night he showed a quick bat and lined one out to left just below the “F” in Frenchy’s on the Tiki bar roof at Brighthouse. See below as he returns to the dugout after his long ball:
Altherr has played 30 games in left field and 22 games in center for the Threshers this season but has been bumped around more recently by the return of left-handed hitting Pete Lavin in left. Altherr has been used as a DH and in right field in a few games this season as well.
The Phillies are reluctant to give up on Kyrell Hudson in center even though he can’t the curve. Hudson started the season off as the leadoff hitter in the Threshers lineup but could not get on base. Last night, now batting ninth in the order with the tying runs on base with two out in the tenth inning, he struck out to end the game which resulted in a 4-2 St. Lucie Mets win.
It would seem the best move would be to put Altherr back to center-field full-time where he has played slightly more than in left in his five years in the Phillies system. Altherr is hitting .309 this season and his seven home runs are just one short of his career high of eight which he hit last year in Lakewood. They always say that power is the last tool to develop and for the tall 6′ 5″, 22-year-old Altherr, it is starting to develop quickly.
The problem is he hits right-handed pitching better than lefties. He is batting .331 against right-handed pitchers and only .241 against left-handed pitching. The Phillies need a right-handed bat in their major league lineup for balance against left-handed pitching. Current Phillies center-fielder Ben Revere has been less than impressive there and has never hit a major league home run. In Altherr they have a five tool outfielder developing with the Threshers but he needs to hit left-handed pitching for a higher average to go to the next level.
Altherr, in addition to showing good power numbers, he has stolen 14 bases in 15 attempts. Defensively he has six outfield assists and has been charged with only one error. His only shortcoming this season is that he is third in the Florida State League in strikeouts. He has fanned 71 times in 220 at bats this season.
Last night Phillies G.M. Ruben Amaro Jr. was in the stands behind home plate sitting next to his assistant and former Phillies G.M. Ed Wade. They had to be impressed with the right-handed bat of Florida State League All-Star Aaron Altherr, especially after he hit one off the roof of the Tiki Bar for his second home run of the season against a left-handed pitcher. Perhaps they were projecting a Phillies major league outfield some day of Domonic Brown in left, Aaron Altherr in center and Kelly Dugan in right. That was the Phillies outfield I was projecting last night at Brighthouse as Altherr was circling the bases and heading back to the dugout.