And with Cole Hamels checking in with a 0.69 ERA over the last seven days, it may be a perfect time for Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. to move his prized left-hander.
According to a report in the Philadelphia Daily News, former Phillies manager Charlie Manuel, now in the team’s front office, is heading to Salem, Virginia this week to scout the Red Sox High-A affiliate in the Carolina league where 20-year-old five-tool outfielder Manuel Margot has been crushing the ball this season.
Margot is currently batting .323/.361/.523, going 21-for-65 in 17 games this season. In 2014, Margot hit .293/.356/.462 with 12 homers and 42 stolen bases in the minors. Salem manager Carlos Febles recently compared Margot to Yankees outfielder Carlos Beltran.
While the Phillies have reportedly been asking for center fielder Mookie Betts or catching prospect Blake Swihart, the Red Sox have indicated that both young players are off limits.
Carlos Febles knows what a potential five-tool star looks like. Febles, the manager of the Red Sox’ high Single A minor league club, spent nearly a decade playing with emerging star Carlos Beltran, first in the Kansas City Royals’ farm system and then in the big leagues.
Febles knows what Beltran looked like as a 20-year-old in the Carolina League. And now Febles knows he has a talent with a skill set similar to Beltran’s in 20-year-old center fielder Manuel Margot.
“I told my hitting coach that he reminds me a lot of Carlos Beltran. I feel like they’re the same type of ballplayers,” said Febles. “Margot’s a bit better offensively at his age . . . Margot is not a guy who’s going to hit 35-40 homers, because their bodies aren’t the same. Carlos was taller and stronger. But ability, they’re right there.”
The tool-by-tool checklist for Margot is impressive.
Last year, Margot had a .286/.355/.449 slash line, with 10 homers and 39 steals in Single A Greenville before an electrifying 16-game run in Salem, where he hit .340/.364/.560 with two homers and three steals. He was the youngest of five minor leaguers with at least 10 homers and 40 steals.
This year he’s hitting .353/.389/.706 with a homer, two steals, and perhaps most amazing, no strikeouts in five games (entering Thursday). Febles sees someone who can be a complete player:
Power: “I think he’s a guy that can hit 15-20 homers in the big leagues. He’s got a quick bat. He has the power to hit it out. To me, he can put on maybe another 15 pounds and still be OK. He definitely has some pop because of the bat speed.”
Base running: “He’s a true base stealer right now. He’s fast. He’s working on jumps, when to go and when not to go, but he’s definitely a guy who could steal 50 bags in the big leagues or at any level. He has baseball instincts. He knows how to run the bases. He’s always looking for something to happen, to take an extra base.”
Defense: “You remember Andruw Jones? I tell you what, [Margot] can play in the big leagues defensively right now. He’s that good. That first step he has is amazing. He will get to the baseball. He reminds me a lot of Carlos Beltran. He’s smooth going to the baseball, like he’s never going to get to it, and then he’s there. It’s fun to watch. And he has a great arm.”
That’s the portrait of a player with a high ceiling. Player evaluators believe Margot has a chance to become a player like Shane Victorino or Rusney Castillo , particularly given some of the physical similarities of strong players are under 6 feet.
Margot still requires offensive refinement. His aggressiveness could make him vulnerable against more advanced pitching.
“To be able to play in the big leagues and be a top hitter, a good player in the big leagues, you have to be consistent in what you do,” said Febles. “Offensively, you have to be consistent in your approach. He’s working on that right now.”
Still, the upside of a multidimensional game-changer is apparent. Febles knows what such players look like.
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Alex Speier Boston Globe Staff
Steve Silva @stevesilva Boston.com Staff