Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the Phillies trade for Detroit Tigers All-Star reliever Gregory Soto and utility infielder Kody Clemens wasn’t in what they received. It was in what they let go of. In acquiring Soto – the main piece of the deal with the potential to be an incredible asset to the ‘pen – the Phillies gave up fan-favorites Matt Vierling and Nick Maton, along with catcher Donny Sands who served as organizational depth. Not a massive price to pay for one of the highest-upside left-handed relievers in the game.
The player for whom the deal has the largest implications for however, isn’t Vierling, Maton or even Soto – but rather the Phillies 25 year-old centerfield Brandon Marsh. By shipping off right-handed hitting Vierling, who was expected to platoon with Marsh when facing left-handed pitching (Marsh hits from the left side but throws from the right), the Phillies have paved the way for Marsh to start full-time against both lefties and righties. Phillies President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski has stated that the organization does not view Marsh as a platoon player and that they believe has the capability to grow against left-handed pitching.
What makes the team’s decision such an exciting one is that for the first time in what feels like forever, they finally have a viable center-field prospect, one that is not only under team control, but possesses enough potential to play capable, above average center field for years to come. What the Phillies have done with Marsh, who was acquired from the Los Angeles Angels at last year’s trade deadline for top catching prospect Logan O’Hoppe, is a prospect swap – not with O’Hoppe, but with maligned former 2016 first overall pick Mickey Moniak, who was traded in a deal for Noah Syndergaard. Marsh, who was also selected out of high school in the 2016 MLB Amatuer draft, albeit one round later, bears a striking similarity to Moniak in nearly every category except Major League production. Both are larger, speedy outfielders – Moniak at 6’2 and Marsh at 6’4 – who hit from the left-side and possess untapped power potential. The only difference is that Moniak has hit .157 with 4 home runs throughout his MLB career and Marsh has hit .248 with 13 home runs over parts of two seasons with the Angels and Phillies.
If Marsh’s numbers don’t wow you, look a little deeper. Since joining the Phillies in 2022, Marsh has slashed .288/.319/.455 with 3 home runs in 41 games – up from .226/.284/.353 with the Angels. Much of Marsh’s turnaround has happened under the watchful eye of hitting coach/offensive guru Kevin Long, simplifying his mechanics, cutting down on strikeouts and increasing contact. In 2023, the Phillies may have just found their next center fielder of the future. He just has a different name than what many fans might’ve expected.