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    Phillies Minor Leaguers: Eduardo Tait, Bryan Rincon, and Starlyn Caba

    John Foley Avatar
    February 4, 2024

    Eduardo Tait

    “Tait has viable big league strength right now, at age 17,” writes Eric Longenhagen for Fangraphs, “which I can’t say for any other teenage hitter in the [Phillies organization].”

    Well, okay then. You have our attention.

    Born in Panama and signed by the Phillies for $90,000 in 2023, catcher Eduardo Tait played almost the entirety of his season in the Dominican Summer League as a 16-year-old. He slashed .333/.400/.517 (.917 OPS) in 44 games, hitting 3 home runs while walking in 7.2% of his plate appearances and striking out 18.8% of the time. He’s six feet tall, bats left/throws right, and depending on where you look his weight is listed as low as 175 or as high as 220.

    No matter what he weighs, the excitement for Tait (ranked sixth in the Phillies’ system by Fangraphs and ninth by Baseball America) is centered around his strength. Notes Baseball America, “The foundation of his tool set starts with a strong body, a clean swing and excellent raw power from the left side.” Both Tait’s average exit velocity (88.2 mph) and his 90th-percentile exit velocity (92.9 mph) were “considerably better than most players his age or in the DSL.”

    Defensively, the consensus seems to be that Tait has a lot of room for improvement. But that’s not surprising for such a young player, and the Phillies believe he could eventually be an average-fielding catcher with an above-average arm. And as Jamie, Renee, and Tyler discussed on the pod, there’s always the possibility that Tait moves to first base or DH and reaches the majors largely on power alone.

    Tait will play in the Florida Complex League in 2024. World Baseball Network interviewed the catcher in September 2022, when he was playing for Panama’s u18 World Cup team.

    Bryan Rincon

    Bryan Rincon, a 19-year-old switch hitting shortstop drafted out of Shaler Area High School in Pittsburgh, is listed as the Phillies’ seventh-best prospect by Baseball America. Fangraphs puts Rincon in the Phillies’ top five. He’s 5’10”, 185 lbs., and will turn 20 before the 2024 season.

    “At least three teams have approached the Phillies about packaging Tait and Rincon in trades,” reported Alex Coffey for the Philadelphia Inquirer in January, “but the Phillies haven’t budged.” That’s a surprising amount of attention for Rincon, who the Phils drafted in the 14th round in 2022. But he has always been highly regarded defensively, and he is performing better than scouts expected at the plate.

    Fangraphs notes that “Rincon tracks pitches well, rarely chases, and moves the bat around the zone from both sides of the plate.” Playing 81 games with single-A Clearwater and 18 games with high-A Jersey Shore in 2023, Rincon slashed a combined .234/.368/.361 (.729 OPS). Not particularly impressive top-line numbers, but Rincon’s plate discipline was evidenced by 68 walks and 76 strikeouts in 425 PAs.

    Most of Rincon’s value, however, stems from his defense. Phillies assistant general manager for player development Preston Mattingly told Coffey that Rincon’s defense ranks as “one of the top two or three” shortstops in the minors.

    Rincon runs well and has an above-average arm. According to Baseball America, he “has the top-end ceiling of an everyday shortstop who hits toward the bottom of the order,” but “is more likely to settle in as a super-utility player who provides plenty of defensive value.” Fangraphs, meanwhile, indicates that Rincon’s “ceiling will be dictated by how much stronger he can get.” He made progress on that front last season, raising his hard-hit rate from 16% to 25%, and his max exit velo from 99 mph to 108 mph.

    Watch the PHLY crew discuss Rincon on the pod here, watch him hit an inside-the-park home run here, and watch him crush a traditional home run here.

    Starlyn Caba

    Both Fangraphs and Baseball America are bullish on Starlyn Caba, an 18-year-old switch hitter from the Dominican Republic. Each publication rates the 5’10” 160-lb. shortstop as a top-5 prospect in the Phillies’ farm system.

    The Phils inked Caba to a hefty $3 million deal on international signing day in 2023. Sal Agostinelli, the team’s director of international scouting, said at the time that Caba was the best defensive shortstop prospect he’d ever seen in his 27 years of experience. Agostinelli compared Caba’s body type to Francisco Lindor, noting “I don’t know if he’s going to have Lindor’s power, but he can play shortstop every bit as good as Lindor right now.”

    Fangraphs projects that Caba’s defense could eventually grade out as a rare 80 on scouts’ 20-80 scale. “His footwork and actions are ridiculous, among the most deft and electric I’ve seen on a shortstop,” writes Longenhagen. Baseball America says Caba “shows elite instincts and actions at shortstop,” “has strong footwork to go with plus arm strength,” and is a natural leader with the makeup to “act like another coach on the field.”

    Elbow surgery ended Caba’s debut season in the Dominican Summer League early, but not before he slashed .301/.423/.346 in 38 games. His 2023 swinging strike rate (3%) and contact rate (90%) were exceptional. Longenhagen believes that Caba manipulates the barrel “with precocious skill for a teenage switch hitter,” and projects that Caba’s hit tool could eventually reach 70. Both Fangraphs and Baseball America peg his run tool at 60.

    Caba is simply one of the most exciting prospects in the Phillies’ organization. His shoulder surgery was described as a “cleanup,” and he’s expected to be fully healthy for a U.S. debut in 2024. Check out some footage of Caba as an amateur here, and look for Jamie, Renee, and Tyler to discuss Caba on the PHLY Phillies pod this week.

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