File this under "huh?"
Tonight, the Phillies most-ready prospect at AAA, Cesar Hernandez, made a position change. Despite being a sharp defensive second baseman, he manned a position up the middle other than his usual position: center field. Hernandez started there Thursday and Friday.
Jeff Schuler, who covers the AAA Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs had an explanation from Iron Pigs Manager Dave Brundage:
Brundage said the move is to give Hernandez and the Phillies options for the future.
"If he continues to swing the bat the way he is and continues improving, you want to make sure that somewhere down the road you can find a spot," Brundage said.
The timing of the experiment could lead to at least two potential future scenarios:
* It could be a sign that free-agent-to-be Chase Utley will remain in the Phillies plans beyond this season; or ...
* With third baseman Maikel Franco off to a spectacular start of his Double-A career at Reading, second base could be a possible landing spot if the Phillies decide to move Cody Asche, a Triple-A all-star third baseman this season.
This is quite the interesting turn of events. Hernandez, a switch-hitting leadoff or second-type hitter has value at both second base and center field. But the Phillies have the now-productive Ben Revere, whose batting average finally hit the .300 plateau today. The type of hitter that Hernandez is might not profile best at a corner outfield position.
A more practical reason that Hernandez was in center? Freddy Galvis is starting at shortstop. So, Michael Martinez has to play second base if he's going to play, but Pete Orr also needs at bats. With Darin Ruf's departure, they need another outfielder. Instead of throwing Orr in the outfield, like they have plenty this season, Brundage is being creative.
However, a week ago Cliff Lee trade return Tyson Gillies was promoted to AAA Lehigh Valley and has been making the bulk of starts in center.
I would advocate that Asche gets some work at second base. Indeed, Maikel Franco is the Phillies' top third base prospect; Asche at second base gives him a shot at being a utility man in the majors, or at least, somewhere to play at AAA once Franco forces the Phillies' hand.