He is Scranton/Wilkes-Barre second baseman Chase Utley- number six in your Red Baron programs and number 15, overall, in the 2000 June draft.
Utley was simply born to play baseball. Blessed with a catchy name, good looks and a silky smooth swing, Chase has all makings of a future star in the major leagues.
His swing…effortless. It's smooth and filled with raw power. It is simply one of the purest enjoyments to see at an International League ballpark.
"It's just the way I swing," said the soft-spoken Utley. "No one taught it to me, it's just something I always did... I just swing."
Utley took many memorable cuts for the Red Barons last season. A solo shot against Durham breaking a 2-2 tie in the eighth, a game-winning three-run walk-off blast against Buffalo. He hit a team record and International League best 39 doubles and tied for third in the IL with 57 extra-base hits. His first year achievements in triple-A earned him the Paul Owens Award for Best Player in the system and a second best prospect ranking in the Phillies organization.
But last year was also an adjusting period for the top prospect. Class-A Clearwater fans might have been a little flustered to see their all-star second baseman anchoring the hot corner for the Red Barons last season. Utley learned from his experiences at third but breathed a sigh of relief when he got his old position back this year.
"I learned a lot being at third," Utley said. "But second is my position. I played it in high school, played it in college, and my first two years in the pros. I'm just more comfortable at second."
With his old position locked back up, Utley continues to flourish for the Red Barons. He's blanketing balls at second and still has a knack for the dramatics. Utley blasted a game tying two-run homerun with two out in the bottom off the ninth in a tough loss to Charlotte.
But this year's team is not playing like the division champs one year ago. Finally playing well enough to hover around .500, Utley remains optimistic about his team's chances.
"For the most part it's basically the same core of guys," Utley said. "We started out slow but we are beginning to turn it around…hopefully we'll keep turning it up, starting now."
Utley has been living up to his end of the bargain, recently tearing the cover off the ball. In 17 of his last 19 games, Utley has put on an offensive display hitting .403 with six homeruns and 16 RBI.
What may be even more impressive was Utley's first hit in the majors. Promoted back to the Phillies on April 24, Utley wasted no time introducing himself to the "City of Brotherly Love." With the bases loaded and Colorado's Aaron Cook staring him down on the mound, Utley made his first big league hit a grand slam giving the Philly hopefuls a taste (maybe even better than their cheese steaks) of what is to come.
"It was an unbelievable experience," remembers Utley. "It was pretty rare and I was pretty lucky to hit a grand slam in my first at bat in the majors…I wouldn't change it for the world."
With the future looking so promising for this 25-year-old prospect the pressure must be unbearable right? Utley says not so much.
"I don't put any added pressure on myself. You should never put more on than you already have. I'm just working to refine everything, my fielding, my hitting so that I can become the best baseball player I can be."
With those soft words, Utley uttered promise to a Phillies franchise waiting for that sweet swing which will carry balls all over the creation in their new ball park in the future.