We continue our countdown of top prospects here at The Good Phight, counting backwards from 20 to our top prospect.
Jordan Viars, L/L, 18 years old
Viars is a young, big-framed Texas high school outfielder who is likely headed to a corner in pro ball. He’s short to the ball despite his size, and currently peppers both gaps with doubles contact. He was an athletic two-way high schooler who will be a right field dev project in pro ball.
Jay: 20th, Ethan: 20th, Alex: NR
The Phillies drafted Viars in the third round as sort of a cheaper signing since his name didn’t show up much prior to the draft as someone who might go that high. According to the draft tracker on MLB, he wasn’t even ranked among the 248 names they had ranked prior to the draft. Nevertheless, the Phillies took him and even gave him a smidge over the bonus slot to sign him.
Last year, he ended up getting into 22 Rookie ball games in Florida, slashing .255/.406/.468 with an 18:11 K/BB rate, solid for a player fresh out of high school and one that looks like he can do some damage as he fills out. He’s probably already a corner outfielder guy and that’s ok! Every system needs guys who can fill a corner. Of course, banishing him to the corner so early isn’t exactly ideal, but we’ll take what we can get.
The bat is the thing here. As mentioned, he’s still young, so he has time to add some power to his game, but the swing looks nice, smooth and balanced. Whenever someone mentions “Phillies” and “short stroke” in the same breath, comparisons to Chase Utley begin to emerge, but this swing doesn’t really remind me of that. It’s altogether different. So while it’s fine to talk about his being “short to the ball”, just don’t try and compare him to the team’s all-time best second baseman.
Viars is a hitting prospect that looks like he can turn into something decent. The caveat is that we’ve seen a lot decent hitting high schoolers enter the void that is the Phillies’ minor league development system only to be swallowed whole. Perhaps the new structure the team has put into place regarding how they develop bats will benefit someone like Viars as he matures as a professional. For now, he’s a young hitter with a solid base that looks like he could turn into something good.