Ender Inciarte has finished the long path from long-shot Rule V Draft Pick to the Major Leagues, as the Philadelphia Phillies have announced that Inciarte will open the 2013 season on the club's 25-man roster.
That makes Inciarte, who does not have any prior experience beyond the Class A Advanced level - the 40th former Missoula Osprey player to earn a Major League roster spot, and the first to make his debut with the 2013 season. The Phillies open their season on Monday at Atlanta.
Inciarte - who was hitting .286 with a double and a RBI in 24 Grapefruit League games after going 2-for-4 on Wednesday, including a RBI single off of Detroit ace Justin Verlander - will likely be used as a late-inning defensive replacement and a pinch-runner. Those two tasks highlight the reasons which Inciarte is heading North with the Phillies.
As a Rule V Major League draft pick, Inciarte will have to stay on the 25-man roster for the entire season, or be offered back to the Arizona Diamondbacks for $25,000, or the two teams will work out a trade, at which time Inciarte can be sent to the minors.
Inciarte carries a .283 career batting average in the minors, spanning 456 games over five seasons. Last season, Inciarte started his summer at South Bend, where he hit .293, before earning a promotion midway through the season the Class A Advanced Visalia. The left-handed hitting outfielder hit .319 after his call-up, with 18 extra-base hits and 17 RBIs. For the 2012 campaign, Inciarte finished with a .307 batting average and a .797 OPS, with 28 doubles, 10 triples, two home runs and 34 RBIs, while stealing 46 bases in 58 attempts.
The Phillies put Inciarte on their radar during the Venezuelan Winter League season, impressed by his range in the outfield and his arm, as well as his baserunning ability. The Phils then picked Inciarte in the Major League portion of the Rule V Draft during the Winter Meetings in December.
The impressions left by Inciarte did not stop there. Inciarte has surprised everyone in Philadelphia's camp with his defense and a solid approach at the plate, posting a .375 on-base percentage in his first 28 at-bats. An injury to veteran outfielder Delmon Young, who will be out of action until May, opened the door for Inciarte to make the Opening Day roster.
Inciarte will be among several former Osprey who are likely to make an Opening Day roster in 2013, including four from the D-backs - Paul Goldschmidt (2009), Miguel Montero (2002-03 Osprey), Gerardo Parra (2006) and Adam Eaton (2010, will open the season on the 15-day DL). Other former Osprey who will likely break camp with Major League clubs are Colorado's Carlos Gonzalez (2003) and Jorge De La Rosa (1999), Cleveland's Bryan Shaw (2008), Scott Hairston (2001) of the Chicago Cubs, Hector Ambriz (2006) of the Houston Astros, Emilio Bonifacio (2003) and Sergio Santos (2002) of the Toronto Blue Jays, Pedro Ciriaco (2005) of the Boston Red Sox, Evan Scribner (2007) and Jarrod Parker (2007) of the Oakland A's, and Lyle Overbay (1999) of the Yankees.
The 2013 version of the Osprey opens their season at home against the Helena Brewers on June 20. Season tickets and mini-plans are now on sale by calling the Osprey at (406) 543-3300, by visiting the Osprey Box Office at 140 N. Higgins or on the web at MissoulaOsprey.com.