Where Does Matt Vierling Fit into the Phillies’ Plans?

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PHILADELPHIA, PA – SEPTEMBER 19: Philadelphia Phillies batting helmets sit on the wall during the MLB game between the New York Mets and the Philadelphia Phillies on September 19, 2018, at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire)

It’s not often in this day and age that a prospect surprises everyone upon his debut. That’s just what Matt Vierling did for the Phillies. Before the 2021 season, Vierling’s name would fall in the 20’s on Phillies’ prospect lists. MLB.com still ranks him the Phillies’ 24th best prospect despite his 2021 season.

In 2021, Vierling jumped through 3 levels of the Phillies system. He dominated in his Double-A Reading debut to start the season. He hit a speed bump at Triple-A Lehigh Valley. Once he reached the majors, there was no looking back.

All told, Vierling slashed .324/.364/.479 in 77 major league plate appearances. Vierling is mostly known as a line-drive-hitter, but those line drives came hard and fast.

Being only 1/9 players to do something, carries some weight. Outside of Aaron Altherr, all 7 other players have been quality major leaguers. Not only is Vierling the Viceroy of Exit Velo, but he showed versatility as well. In his limited playing time, he started 6 games at first, 6 in centerfield, 2 in left, and 1 in right. He also started 8 games at 3rd base in Triple-A.

At the very least, Matt Vierling can be a valuable bench piece for the Phillies in 2022. He’s on a rookie contract, so he’ll be an affordable utilityman.

Now, it’s no secret that the Phillies need both a left and centerfielder. Vierling probably won’t put up enough offensive numbers to justify him starting in left. He could be a fit for center, however. He played 200.1 innings at that position in total in 2021. He recorded 2 assists and committed no errors. According to Statcast, Vierling is in the 95th percentile in sprint speed in the majors. Covering ground would be no problem for him.

Outside of Starling Marte, the free-agent market for center fielders is noticeably weak. So unless the Phillies can pull a trade for Byron Buxton (unlikely) or Bryan Reynolds (extremely unlikely), then Vierling might be the best option for the Phillies.

Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire