CLEARWATER, FL — “Before any great storm is struggle.”
That bungled quote from Philadelphia Phillies prospect Anthony Hewitt might perfectly encapsulate his coming season.
The Clearwater Threshers outfielder was the 24th overall pick in the 2008 draft. Originally playing shortstop, he was moved to third base; now, in 2013, he’s been reinvented as an outfielder.
“I was open-minded to it; it’s part of the game,” Hewitt said, on switching positions. “When I started playing, my natural position was outfield.”
Hewitt’s batting average hasn’t topped .241 over his five-year professional career. His last two seasons were consistent (.240 and .241) but not remotely close to the high benchmark he set for himself coming out of high school in Connecticut.
His atrocious batting out of the gate (.197 in his first year) led to the switch from shortstop to third base, but the move within the infield prompted his hitting to drop drastically.
Settling into the outfield has stabilized his contact numbers from brutal to almost mediocre, and his power has been entirely lacking ever since being drafted.
In 2011, after the move from third base to the outfield, the Brooklyn native maxed out at 14 home runs over 119 games.
“Those previous seasons were just building blocks, learning curves,” Hewitt said.
He acknowledged that his slight improvement in hitting was a positive sign of things to come, and he’s looking forward to playing this season to prove himself.
The Phillies have not promoted the first-round pick to double-A yet, and without a surge of offence from Hewitt the 23 year old’s days may be numbered.
Outfielders Darin Ruff and Carlos Tocci round out Baseball America’s top 10 Phillies prospect rankings, bumping Hewitt further down in the conversation of potential big-leaguers.
Despite the dwindling chances of making the big club, Hewitt remains positive in his outlook.
“Phillies are a top notch organization, one of a kind. I’ve run into a lot of guys in different organizations and they come here and have nothing but good things to say,” he said.
“I’m blessed to be in this position.”
That position may be in jeopardy, based on subsequent signings of the Phillies climbing the ranks and leap-frogging Hewitt.
The pressure is on Hewitt to perform in 2013, but he maintains that a love of the game will carry him through his career-long rough patch.
“No pressure at all. Just go out there and play my game and have fun,” he said.
Hewitt’s struggles have come to a head, and his performance this season will determine if a storm will disturb the clear waters of Clearwater.
“I want big things,” he said. And he needs them.