Why Carlos Tocci is Amazing

The Phillies made a very aggressive move when they sent 17 year old Carlos Tocci to full season Lakewood.  There were some that assumed it came with a ticket to Williamsport midseason, but so far the team as shown no indication of moving Tocci back.

To this point Tocci is only hitting .236/.300/.288 with 12 2Bs, 4 SB, 4 CS, 18BB, 33K, but there are many reason to find his year a huge success.

He is incredibly young but has advanced instincts now.  Tocci should be either finishing up his junior or senior year of high school right now.  He has more advanced baseball instincts than any high school player in the 2013 draft.  He may not be as physcially mature as his counterparts, but he is still younger than most draftees, and with a year of full season ball.

Tocci is physically overmatched but not on baseball skills.  Tocci is not showing signs of being unable to adjust to seeing professional pitches.  While he still lacks the strength to make solid contact, he is not swinging and missing at an alarming rate.  His BB% has improved from 5.6% to 7% and his strikeout rate has dropped from 16.8% to 12.8%.  Not only is it improving for the season, he has been improving by month, in June so far he has 7BBs and 10Ks.  As he goes up the levels pitchers will throw him less balls, but he should start to make enough solid contact to compensate.

There is doubles power developing now.  There is little chance that Tocci will be slugger with huge home run power, but he makes good contact and he is starting to drive the ball better.  Tocci does not have a slash and run swing, nor does he just pound the ball into the ground, once he adds strength it should translate into balls in the gaps.  Right now he has more than doubled his ISO from 2012.

The defensive profile is for real.  Tocci is a plus plus runner, it allows him to cover large amounts of ground in CF.  His routes could use some continued work, but he works hard enough it will just take more reps for him toimprove.  His arm is a present plus tool right now which will be a weapon from CF.  His frame suggests that he should keep most of these skills as he ages, and may add some are strength.  That gives him a plus defensive profile right now and he has a chance to be an elite defender up the middle.

He is not using his speed on offense yet.  Tocci has plus plus (70) speed, but on offense he does not use it.  He does not get out of the box well and from the RH side it is not a jailbreak swing of any type.  If he can get a better jump towards first, he will start to pick up extra infield hits, additionally he will be able to stretch out some doubles.  On the base paths he does not get good jumps or reads when stealing.  This should improve with reps and while he may not be a burner he should steal 30+ bases a year in his prime.  These are both skills that should come with age and repetition.

He is really mature for his age.  I can’t speak to his off the field maturity but on the baseball field Tocci is showing maturity beyond his age.  The Phillies felt good enough about him to challenge him with the assignment to Lakewood, then even though his stats don’t look great they feel that he can handle the continued assignment and improve over the course of the year.

He is a hard worker.  Saying that a prospect works hard and has good makeup has gotten thrown around a lot.  Scouts last year were impressed by the work he was putting in on defense.  In the GCL Tocci would routinely spend BP in CF working on his routes and reads on balls.

Fun Carlos Tocci Facts:

  • Youngest player in the SAL
  • Second youngest player in full-season ball
  • Would be the 4th youngest player on the GCL Phillies (Grullon, Alezones, Pujols)
  • One day older than the youngest player in the Phillies 2013 draft class (39th round pick Brandon Wagner)
  • Tocci has twice as many XBH as Ben Revere
  • The next youngest batter in the SAL (Raul Adelberto Mondesi) has twice has many strikeouts and 2 less walks
  • Tocci has 6 OF assists this year
  • Tocci has 3 career sacrifice flies but only 2 sacrifice hits

There is a ton to dream on with Tocci, but more importantly he has the tools and instincts that give him a profile that is impressive even if the bat doesn’t become special.  He is holding his own even though he is behind both physically and developmentally of everyone he faces.

About Matt Winkelman

Matt is originally from Mt. Holly, NJ, but after a 4 year side track to Cleveland for college he now resides in Madison, WI. His work has previously appeared on Phuture Phillies and The Good Phight. You can read his work at Phillies Minor Thoughts

72 thoughts on “Why Carlos Tocci is Amazing

  1. Where would he be drafted if he were coming out of high school right now with his current skills and projection?

    1. Given the knowledge that he can handle low-A right now I think he would go in the top 15 somewhere. I really messed up with ranking him a week ago, looking at it as I wrote this piece he probably should have been 3, when you look at the defensive profile and level it is hard to put Quinn above him right now.

      It is going to be really difficult to rank him vs Crawford.

  2. So who does he compare to? I know scouts hate ML comparisons, but fans love them. Im hoping ideally he becomes Shane Victorino.

      1. It’s knit-picking, but I don’t think he’s as fast as you think he is. I know he was advertised as a ‘plus-plus’ guy early one, but if you watch him I don’t think it will wow you. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a plus runner- but not a 40-50 steals kind of speed (Bradley gets on base so much I think he’ll get that some day)

          1. Yeah, I take that back – I thought Bradley was putting up better steal numbers.

    1. A right handed Luis Gonzalez (the version off steroids). His swing reminds me a little of Carlos Gonzalez- good load, plate coverage, the barrel seems to stay in the zone for a while. Of course it would be pretty unreasonable to expect him to mature into the same kind of power production.

      1. I think it is tough to “shoot” at all with Tocci with so much being projection at this point. My best guess (and that’s all it is) for upside is a CF that does everything well, and perhaps some things very well, except hit for power. If he ever develops average power the upside is super star.

  3. Sorry clicked submit too quickly. An example of his instincts, last year in a GCL game (or maybe it was an XST scrimmage, can’t remember) he was in CF and the other team had runners at the corners with two outs and the guy hits a soft humpback line drive single to CF. Tocci charges it, guy on third trots home, the guy from first is heading to third. Tocci turns his body almost ridiculously towards 3rd base for the throw, which I didn’t understand watching it live. As he does this the guy that hit the ball sees he’s going to third and takes a huge turn around first and is halfway to second. Tocci throws back across his body to 2B and the guys is dead to rights, but he would have been out by so much he turned and went safely back to first since the 1B was out of position (on the pitchers mound to cut off a throw to the plate from CF). That’s when it hit me, he duped the hitter to thinking he was going to throw to third just so he could throw him out at 2B. So it didn’t work but for a 16 year old to make that play on the fly like that was very impressive to me. To me it showed just how alert and aware he is out there, and I can’t say he processed that there were two outs and the runner getting to third wasn’t a big deal, but I wouldn’t doubt it. I remember after he did it looking over at some of the instructors / coaches and one of them was just laughing and shaking his head like “wow did he really just do that”

  4. Ive seen tocci in person. He is an Avg runner not plus plus. He does have plus plus instincts and can be a gold glove caliber CF in the mold of Jim Edmonds(on Def)but he will do it on instinct not on raw speed. His Speed will improve with strength gains but i dont think he will ever be a burner. Best 17 year old CF ive seen since Ken Griffey Jr(on Def). Has a very advanced aproach @ Plate and barrals balls up. Should be A MLB Reguler in his prime.Endy Chavez is his Floor with Steve Finnley being Ceiling.Top 5
    1Franco 6Watson
    2Biddle 7Joseph
    3Crawford 8 Pujols
    4Quinn 9 Asche
    5Tocci 10 Altheir

    1. A) I think that’s 10 not 5, and B) I’m not sure if he was hurt when you saw him, but I’ve seen him play quite a bit and I’m with Matt on the speed of 70.

      1. Boy, a little too giddy over a guy that has done nothing but survive. Hope you big brains are right

    2. Wow, that’s a very aggressive placement for Pujols. Is this based on the scouting reports, or have you been watching him play?

      1. Saw a few games in extended and he is a more athletic domingo Santana. Will strike out but has a chance to be special

    3. My only question on your top ten is number eight-Pujols. I see him in the teens, between 14 and 17.

    4. I really don’t know about his speed also. Baseball Prospectus gave him a 70, but with a comment about “one scout” saying that. Looking at the SB stats and the trouble getting out of the box I think he is more than a 60 runner. When Matt in his writeup says he is not a burner but should steal 30 bases, that is more of a 60 runner description. I do worry he loses a little speed as well as he matures. I am not down on him – just 70 speed is special and if he is not using it in games it could be a problem for a player whose speed and defensive value are his best calling cards.

      It is also a little misleading to talk about his isolated power doubling. It is still awful at .051. I know he is super young and can add power, but we should not really rank him too much higher until he does that. He is not going to be a first division starter if he has an ISO under .100.

      1. Perspective:

        Ca Tocci, 17, SAL, iso .051, K 13.0%, Bb 6.9%, ops .629

        MFranco, 17, GCL, iso .098, K 21.2%, Bb 7.4% ops .601

        Franco’s ISO has nearly tripled in the 3 years since he turned pro. Tocci is producing more in Full-season than Franco did in GCL.

        1. The difference is we did not start thinking of Franco as a top prospect until he started showing that power. Tocci clearly has good coordination and is not being overwhelmed at the plate. He is holding his own which is great. But until he learns to use his speed or develops any sort of power he can’t be a top 100 prospect IMO. He is somewhere in the 6-10 range for me at the moment, depending in part on how well this year’s class develops.

          1. So, it is too much of a stretch, to project that a 17 year old Tocci will gain more power as he grows into an adult? Projection is part of prospect ranking.
            Tocci is much better at age 17, than our current #1 prospect, but he isn’t worthy of top 5 prospect status?

            1. No, it is not a stretch. His scouting report, however, suggests he does not have the power tool now and may not ever have it if he does not fill out. Franco had that tool. Tocci does not. On the other hand Tocci is a much better hitter. He’ll just have to be really good if his power does not develop to be seen as a top prospect.

              Rankings need to consider the probability of a tool’s projection. It is not simply age versus level. His polish can almost be held against him in future prospects because it limits how much better he could get with projection. I like Tocci as a prospect. Just trying to be realistic here though.

            2. “His polish can almost be held against him in future prospects because it limits how much better he could get with projection.”

              Not sure I buy that Andy. His baseball skill set is an advantage and this skill is not static. His starting point is years ahead of competition that is already 2-3 years older than him. I don’t see any way that his advanced skill set can be considered a detriment

            3. Since he is already polished there is just less room for improvement in some areas of the game. His hit tool and defense already benefit from that. He can certainly get better in those areas. Just the level of improvement will be a little less than his potential in other areas.

              My concern is still with the power and speed though. Unless he develops some power and shows that he can use his speed, he is simply not a top 100 prospect (or even top 5 for us). Hard to rank a guy there who is all projection even if he is really young.

            4. It’s not all projection. Tocci is showing results, but you’re missing them because you are focusing only on ISO, SLG and BA. You’re not considering the other peripherals.
              Tocci has shown better results than Franco and Santana at the same age.

            5. Franco was a year behind so it is hard to compare. But throwing Santana in the equation is valid on the age spectrum because he was at Lakewood at age 17. He hit .182 there and was considered a failure and was sent down to Williamsport. But that was a louder .182 than Tocci is capable of with a .619 OPS. He had 5 SB (same as Tocci), more power and 29 BB. Tocci for all the talk about results has a .574 OPS while hitting .231. His OBP is less than Santana (.293 vs .322).

              Tocci may be a little better on defense (his range factor is good but really about average for other Lakewood CF in recent years), but Santana was clearly better on offense. Since Santana was less polished he also had more room to grow his on base skills than Tocci does. IMO Tocci is not really better than what Santana was doing at that time. Until he gains some power or shows he can use his speed, it is hard to call him a top prospect. I actually think you are focusing your argument a little too much on BA. I realize you are considering the scouting reports about his instincts, but remember also that instincts have not yet made Freddy Galvis a good major league hitter yet. Instincts are nice, but actual production is nicer.

  5. Promising stuff. Sure would like to see him put on 20 lbs over the next year or two. Only then IMO would all of his talents thrive. And, it seems he’d (at that weight and muscled up) be able to add enough power to get to 15 HRs/season with the doubles, by stretch or alleys, and triples thrown in. The added weight-strength may give us a CFer surpassing most in Phils recent years. Give him 4 more seasons…

  6. He will develop some pop. At his age, its amazing that he can hold his own against such relatively advanced pitching. Profar is the top prospect in baseball because he can hold his own against competition several years ahead in development. Tocci will be fascinating to watch next year, but it’ll be important not to expect too much from him after he breaks into the back end of top 100 prospect lists.

  7. I was one who thought Tocci was warming in the SAL and would end up in Wmsprt. For most guys that young and hitting like he is, they’d be at Wmsprt now to boost confidence. It looks like the kid doesn’t need any confidence. He just needs to play. He’s listed at 6’2″ but looks like a bean pole. I think he can pack on some pounds of muscle and then use some of his height leverage to smack some XBHs.

    1. Listed at 160 lbs. I assume his weight was taken while in his uni, holding a bat, grove, his helmet and Roman Quinn. I keed, I keed. Still, he’s got plenty of growing to do the next few years and he could end up playing somewhere in the 180-190 lbs. range with a bit of pop.

  8. So who is the youngest player in full season? Last year I compared Tocci to Griffey Jr, and Andruw Jones, not on skill set so much as baseball instincts for such a young player. I’ve been trying to find other 17 year olds in full season to compare him to. The other one I came up with is Beltre, but Beltre had much more advanced skills at 17 and ended the season at A+ (also if I recall correctly the Dodgers were fined for signing Beltre too young).

    1. Domingo Santana played half a season in Lakewood as a 17-year-old. Mondesi in the Royals system, who is mentioned in the article, is also 17 in A ball.

    2. Julio Urias is a 16 year old pitcher for the Dodgers in the Midwest League. Lefty with 90+ mph fastball, 3.74 ERA, 9.6 K/9

  9. OK, so let’s imagine Tocci continues his modest improvement at the plate and finishes the season in Lakewood in the neighborhood of .250/.325/.350. Does he repeat Lakewood next season? Or do you promote to Clearwater, based on the notion that his baseball skills would benefit from the challenge?

    1. I think that his physical development is going to be a factor into how quickly he rises. I love that he’s getting noticed as a few of us saw enough of him last season to see his extraordinary talent. Matt touched on the same talking point I’ve used quite frequently in casual conversations with friends. Normally, he’d be graduating high school right now. Pause to contemplate that for a moment and then consider that he is far from a physical specimen or freak of nature. He’s at an extreme disadvantage physically when compared with his competition.

      Obviously I’m high on the kid but I’m not sure he’s a guy we’ll see in the majors as a 20 yr old (aside from a Sept call-up). All said, I think he starts at Lakewood next season with opportunity for a mid-season promotion. At some stage in his development they’ll need to let him dominate a level so if he stayed at Lakewood the entire year (next), I would see no harm.

      1. I agree with this. The way he’s adjusted to Low-A pitching as the season has progressed suggests that he could be an advanced hitter at the same level next year.

      2. I agree Steve. Barring some sort of crazy offensive tear in the second half I’d keep him in Lakewood. You can’t just continually have him young at each level for the sake of it. At some point you are going to want to see what he can do against more age appopriate competition.

          1. I am not sure what “Freddy Galvis” is meant in response to my post. If it refers to age appropriateness, Galvis was a full year older than Tocci at LWD, so keeping Tocci in LWD next year would match even Galvis’ greatly accelerated pace. And for what it’s worth, I think Galvis was rushed on account of his glove and should have been given more time to develop his bat.

      3. He’s actually an August birthday, too (Still 17). He would be one of the youngest players in this draft class. If he went to school in the US, he could be just finishing his Junior year depending on whether his parents kept him back at a younger age. It’s a scary thought of how much time he has to progress.

      1. I believe he will start repeating at high levels if need be. I would naturally progress him to AA before i thought about repeating unless he really bombs the rest of this year or in CLR

    2. I guess I’d look at how the Phils handled Galvis. He was 17 in Wmsprt and 18 at Lakewood. That puts Galvis a level behind but ended his 19th year in Reading. Galvis was not ready physically to hit in Reading but he was ready with the glove. If Tocci can play CF really well, they may use a similar approach by keeping him moving up the ladder. Hudson was a guy who could play CF in the majors when he was with Lakewood (according to his manager at the time) but he couldn’t hit a lick. His problem was contact. Tocci makes a good amount of contact so I’d keep him moving to CLW. With that said, there’s still a half a season to play and that will determine if my approach will work. If he regresses, all bets are off. If he stays as he is or progresses, I’d start him in CLW. Lots of risk but there is a pot of gold at the other side as a reward.

    3. Since we’re roughly halfway through the season, Tocci would have to put up around a .265/.355/.415 for the rest of the year to make that slashline. There is no way he stays in Lakewood next year if he shows a .770 OPS with good CF defense in the second half.

  10. Great post, but please proofread next time. It was really hard to read in some spots.

  11. Nice article Matt.I would be interested in seeing what his family looks like physically to get an idea on how much he will fill out. From 17 to 19 i grew 2.5 inches and put on 50 lbs of muscle naturally no steroids. And lets remember the Dom Brown progression and even coming into this year he looked more powerful in ST. Without seeing his family and looking at his current build i would say he is 50/50 at developing 30 HR power. Just being 6’2″ and having good extension gets him 15 HR power. I would feel pretty confident in saying he is a 20/20 guy in the waiting. It sounds like he is a 17 year old Galvis in CF, as far as instincts are concerned. But i am right there with you that there is A LOT to get excited about here.

    1. Looking at family is a great point actually. Over on Crashburn Alley Eric had a post about JP Crawford and how you have to look at prospects families to get a sense of how bodies will develop and whether they can add on muscle.

      1. That was an interesting post, and very encouraging for a Phillies fan.

        I do think that the genetics of the kid is the great unknown that can make or break him as a prospect. If he never fills out much, he can still have a major league career. But if he fills out some, he could be a monster. Doesn’t have to hit 30+ home runs for that, but if he’s going to be an impact player IMO he needs mid range power.

        1. I mean if his body never develops his upside is basically Ben Revere. Revere to me is basically the least amount of power you can have and still be a major leaguer. If the body develops though, with his skills and understanding of the game, he could really be something.

      2. Yeah it was. I should of added that to my smart-a**** remark about wanting pictures of him mom.

  12. It’s a little thing, but one thing I noticed when I was down at Spring Training watching Tocci is how much he seemed to be watching and concentrating in the dugout. They were doing a simulated game, and he just sat there, crouching, with his bat between his knees watching the pitcher for batter after batter. By contrast, Gillies was there and he was goofing around, slap-fighting with people, what have you. A real contrast–definitely wouldn’t have guessed which one of them was the teenager. (Except by physical appearance, obviously, Tocci is a beanpole.)

    So, I guess that’s a small data point for the “maturity” thing.

    Second, I’m just curious: how do they handle school for guys like Tocci. He should be a high school junior–how does he get out of going to high school? Do they send him to some special school in the offseason? As a fan, I’d feel icky if he wasn’t getting some kind of education.

    1. Screw his education, we need players. Jk. Your take on Gillies is spot on – he is the class clown that sits in the back of the room, shooting spitballs at his classmates. They all love him cuz he’s fun, and he takes any and all heat when the teacher gets mad. It’s one of the Phils big concerns with him, how do they make sure his behavior doesn’t negatively influence hard working, professional guys like Biddle, Franco, etc

    1. That’s the whole point. Hardly anybody would be talking about Biddle if he were 23 doing what he is instead of 21, or Franco if he were 22 instead of 20, either.

        1. Totally. The only one. Guy got a $500k + bonus last year and was 15 or 16 in BA Intl rankings. He had great reports from instructs in the fall. We all see it coming.

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