The deadline for players to be placed on the 40-man roster in order to be protected from the Rule 5 draft is today and the Phillies are making some moves.
The Phillies acquired minor league OF Hendry Mendez and INF Robert Moore today from MIL in exchange for INF Oliver Dunn.— Philadelphia Phillies (@Phillies) November 14, 2023
This is not going to set the world on fire, but it does make some sense here.
Dunn was in need of being put on the roster lest someone jump up and the team loses him for nothing. After an Arizona Fall League performance that demanded attention from the team, it became obvious that he was going to generate some interest with other teams. With roster spots somewhat tough to come by as far as position players go with the Phillies, it makes sense to get something for him.
In return for Dunn, the Phillies get some lower level prospects of interest. In Fangraphs’ evaluations of the Brewers system, Mendez and Moore ranked 14th and 15th respectively. Here is what they had to say about both players (this is from last December).
Mendez has preternatural feel for contact and is in the midst (or perhaps at the tail end) of a remarkable growth spurt that has him standing in at about 6-foot-4. He walked nearly as much as he struck out as a teenager in full-season ball in 2022, continuing an impressive early-career statistical résumé from both a bat-to-ball and plate discipline standpoint. While he appears to have special hand-eye coordination and bat control, Mendez’s quirky, downward-cutting swing generates minimal lift and impact, his groundball rates have been at least 57% at every level, and his average launch angle was -4 (!) degrees in 2022. It feels like Mendez is standing on the precipice of a breakout because he has such an exciting combination of hitting skills and physicality. He is one of the weirder hitting prospects in baseball because of his precocious feel for contact and extreme groundball tendencies. It’s difficult to project power here as Mendez’s future pop exists almost entirely in the abstract, dependent on a swing change that hasn’t been made yet. High-contact prospects are typically more stable, but there is extreme variance in this case.
A well-known prospect in high school, Moore forewent the draft at that time and matriculated to Arkansas early. At just 20.3 years old, he was the youngest three-year college player in the 2022 draft. He’s a twitchy, compact-framed middle infield prospect with sneaky power, adept at ambushing hittable fastballs on the inner half of the plate. As a 19-year-old in the SEC, he yanked out 16 homers in 2021, then had a strangely bad ’22 season and only hit .232, though it’s tough to discern why and it may just be that he’s due for a BABIP regression. Moore played second base in deference to Razorbacks shortstop Jalen Battles in college, but he probably deserves a shot to play some short upon his initial entry to pro ball just to see how it goes. He’s probably a cleaner fit at second because of arm strength limitations, but he’s rangy and athletic enough to be plus there. It’s possible the 2022 college season was a statistical anomaly and that Moore will quickly return to looking like a potential everyday up-the-middle player, but if he doesn’t, it will become imperative for him to play short as part of a utility infield package.
In this past season, neither prospect really did a whole lot of note, Moore hitting .233/.321/.361 at High A, Mendez hitting .236/.307/.326 at the same level. They’re not going to set the world aflame, but in a system that isn’t exactly flush with hitting prospects, they’ll add some solid depth.
There will be more moves to come.