The old saying is ” you get only one chance to make a first impression”. And wow! Few players have ever made better stunning debuts with a new organization than Elvis Araujo and Odubel Herrera have done with the Phillies this week.
In Araujo’s first two appearances, five of his six outs have been by strikeouts. He has been particularly dominate against left handed hitters. Four of his strikeouts have been against left-handed bats. In Sunday’s game against the University of Tampa Spartans he pitched an inning and started the hitters off with his mid-90’s fastball to get ahead in the count and then dropped in his devastating mid-80’s slider to freeze the two left-handed hitters he faced for called strike threes.
Yesterday in Kissimmee against the Astros, Araujo got two more strikeouts against left-handed bats, one called and one swinging. All I can compare him to is RHP Ken Giles last year in the spring training who came up from high A to dominate with a similar pitch selection.
What’s impressive has been Araujo’s control in his first two innings this spring. The 23-year old, 6’6″, Venezuelan was signed by the Phillies in November after being taken off the 40 man roster by the Cleveland Indians. He had control problems with them pitching no higher than AA after six season in their organization.
Araujo seemed to find a groove in the Venezuelan Winter League in the offseason after the Phillies signed him. He played on the same team with Freddy Galvis and in relief went 4-1 and struck out 20 and walked 8 in 21.1 innings. Equally impressive were his 1.27 ERA, 1.03 WHIP and five holds. See Here
Just as impressive has been left handed hitting Odubel Herrera. Just converted to centerfield after he played second base most of career, he has been the one to watch. On Tuesday against the Yankees at Bright House Field, he had three hits, three steals and scored two runs. One of Herrera’s hits was off the newly acquired, high price, Yankee left handed relief pitcher Andrew Miller.
The Phillies picked up Herrera in the Rule Five draft in December out of the Texas Rangers organization. Like Araujo he is a 23- year old Venezuelan but he is only 5’11” with a strong looking lower body. He was one of few players ever to win two league batting championships in one year when last year he hit .321 in the Texas League and .372 in the VWL. See Here
I have never seen anywhere in baseball where two, 23- year olds, who have never before this week appeared in the same team’s uniform at any level, be so impressive and dominate. They definitely have given the Phillies a head start on its much ballyhooed rebuilding process. And in the process have given themselves jump starts on making its opening day 25-man roster roster.