Former Missoula Osprey outfielder Ender Inciarte has been selected by the Philadelphia Phillies with the 10th pick in the Major League portion of the 2012 Rule 5 Draft at the Baseball Winter Meetings in Nashville, Tennessee.
Inciarte, who split the 2012 season between Class A South Bend and Class A Advanced Visalia, has been added to the Phillies' 40-man roster, and will have a chance to make the Major League roster out of Spring Training.
"We like the defensive ability," Phillies pro scouting director Mike Ondo said in a story posted on the Phillies website. "We think he's an above-average defender in center field, and an above-average runner. The reports we get are that he has the instincts to play the game and is a guy we can trust to run out there to play defense late."
The Phillies will have to either keep Inciarte on the 25-man Major League roster for the entire 2013 season, or offer him back to the Diamondbacks for half of the $50,000 fee they will play for selecting him.
"Is it realistic?" Ondo said. "I think there's a chance. We've seen this guy. We've seen him during the year at two different spots. We saw him in Venezuela [in winter ball]. Just on the defense, our guys think he has instincts to play the outfield. With his tools, we think he's a guy, at least initially, that could fill in defensively as a late-inning replacement, pinch-run. There's still some prospect value in him. But we think he is an advanced outfielder."
Inciarte had a solid 2012 campaign, hitting a combined .307 between South Bend and Visalia, with two home runs, 47 RBIs and 46 stolen bases, but has not played above Class A Advanced Visalia in his five professional seasons, including his debut season stateside in Missoula in 2009. In his career, Inciarte has a .283 batting average with 81 doubles, 23 triples, five home runs, 163 RBIs and 111 stolen bases.
Inciarte is currently playing for Aguilas del Zulia in the Venezuelan Winter League, and in 35 games, is hitting .225 with three doubles, a triple, five RBIs and a pair of stolen bases.
Inciarte's best season average-wise still stands as his summer is Missoula, with a .325 batting average, 16 extra-base hits, 22 RBI and 10 stolen bases in 66 games while helping the Osprey win the Pioneer League North Division Series and advance to the Championship Series. His catch in deep center field in Game 1 of the Championship Series saved a run and helped preserve a 7-6 win for the Osprey at Orem.
A total of 42 players were selected in the Rule 5 Draft, 15 of which were in the Major League portion, and the rest were taken during the Triple-A portion of the draft.
The 2013 version of the Osprey will open the season on Thursday, June 20, against the Helena Brewers. Season tickets are now on sale at the MSO Hub Box Office at 140 N. Higgins, by phone at (406) 543-3300 or online at MissoulaOsprey.com.