It was a scene that Andrew Pullin had to endure all too many times. As a non-roster invitee to Phillies camp, Pullin looked to make some of the big league staff and front office aware of just what he could do on a baseball field. Unfortunately, Pullin went 1-for-5 in three games and then had to sit out with a strained oblique, ruining his audition. Earlier this week, he was sent to minor league camp, where he knew he would eventually land, but had hoped to get more time in front of the Phillies decision makers than he had.
Pullin also missed playing in the Arizona Fall League last fall, just as he did the Eastern League Playoffs, because of an elbow injury. Earlier, he had missed time with a groin strain.
Thankfully, none of the injuries have been serious, but they have hit at key moments when Pullin could have looked to shine and draw attention. It also doesn't help that Pullin actually retired a year ago before coming back to the game.
The Phillies drafted Pullin out of Centralia High School in Washington state with their fifth round pick in the 2012 Draft. Initially, he was drafted as a left fielder and had decent defensive numbers in a relatively small sample size - 26 games - in the Gulf Coast League. He also played one game in center and seven at second base that season, and the Phillies were intrigued by the possibility of him playing second. In the next two seasons, Pullin played exclusively at second base and compiled a .958 fielding percentage and the Phillies decided the experiment wasn't going to work, so they put Pullin back in left field, where he has amassed a .989 fielding percentage over the past two season. He's also played some right field - 18 games last season - with decent success, but his arm lacks the strength that you would like to see from a right fielder, so he's fairly well limited to left field.
Offensively, Pullin has power, but not the impressive type power that you see from a Dylan Cozens or Rhys Hoskins type prospect. He's prone to simply looking to pull the ball to take advantage of his power and profiles as a guy who could conceivably hit somewhere around 15 home runs. He also profiles as a guy who likes to make contact and could hit anywhere from about .270 on up, depending on how he continues to develop at the plate. Those projections seem to point to him being a somewhat average outfielder on a decent major league team, if he can produce them on a regular basis.
In his first three professional seasons, Pullin struck out in the neighborhood of 18% of the time, but has lowered that to 15% over the past two seasons. Pullin would help himself if he could draw a few more walks, but he's a guy who likes to swing and since he makes a fairly high level of contact, it doesn't figure that Pullin is suddenly going to look to draw more walks.
One intriguing thing about Pullin is that while you can draw at least a little concern that guys like Cozens and Hoskins amassed much of their power numbers at hitter friendly FirstEnergy Park in Reading last season, Pullin doesn't seem to care where he's playing. His home/road splits were good, with eight of his 14 home runs last season coming at his home parks - Clearwater and Reading - and the other six coming on the road. He hit .333 at home and .310 on the road. His numbers do skew a little when you look at the righty/lefty splits, hitting 11 home runs and batting .310 against right-handers, while managing just three home runs, but a very impressive .355 average against southpaws.
|vs RHP as LHB||77||258||75||16||1||11||34||12||40||.310||.345||.521|
|vs LHP as LHB||46||101||33||5||1||3||17||6||15||.355||.406||.527|
|2 outs, RISP||48||65||16||4||0||2||12||4||12||.262||.308||.426|
|vs. Younger Pitchers||31||80||28||5||2||2||9||4||5||.378||.413||.581|
|vs. Older Pitchers||81||279||80||16||0||12||42||14||50||.307||.348||.506|
While there's a lot to like about Pullin, you have to believe that the 2017 season will be an important one for him. The recent spate of injuries needs to subside and he has to stay on the field to prove that there are no potential flukes in his numbers. Pullin has another issue to battle; the huge logjam of outfielders in the organization, most of whom are simply better than Pullin. Such logjams usually have a way of working themselves out either through players fizzling out, getting hurt or being traded. Perhaps Pullin will be one of the players included in a deal at some point down the road, but for now, he's going to have to return to Double-A Reading and show that he can replicate his numbers from that level. After that, it's just waiting for that logjam to break free, one way or another.