Philadelphia outfielder Odubel Herrera needs to impove in 2019
Odubel Herrera opened last season in Philadelphia as a building block for the Phillies future, a high-energy player that could bat in the top of the order and play a solid center field.

Unfortunately, the 26-year-old pieced together his worst season by far at the big league level and doubled-down with several gaffes in the outfield and on the base paths.

Herrera achieved career highs in homers (22) and RBIs (71) in 2018, but that's not what the Phillies want of him. He worked 63 walks in 2016 when he was an All-Star and had a.361 on-base percentage, this in comparison to 38 walks in 2018 and a .310 on-base percentage.

So, what does Phillies manager Gabe Kapler expect of Herrera in 2019?

"He has to come to camp in the best condition of his career," Kapler said on Monday at the Winter Meetings.

Talent wise, Herrera has the tools to be an impact player. Not a superstar, but certainly a vital piece to a team looking to make a run at a postseason berth. However, mental miscues have long plagued him and his confidence, at times, seems in question.

"I think it's a work in progress," Kapler said. "How do we motivate an especially talented and gifted athlete, who, for six weeks was the best player in all of baseball? How can we get that outcome for the entirety of a season, because then you have an elite level baseball player."

Kapler said he recently spoke to Herrera and said he seems in high spirits and that he's motivated to arrive in Clearwater in peak physical condition, the opposite of how he arrived last year.

"I take responsibility for him coming into camp in better shape this year than last year - I've demanded it of him," Kapler said. "He knows that I will accept nothing less and he is suggesting he'll also accept nothing less. There is nothing more important to us than having him come to camp ready to dominate."

Its too early to know what the addition of Andrew McCutchen means for Herrera. It could mean nothing and he'll be in center field on opening day, or it could mean the Phillies are going to take a chance with Roman Quinn as the everyday starter in center with McCutchen in right, leaving Herrera as expendable.

This much we do know, 2019 will be a defining year for Herrera and potentially the rest of his career.
Follow Patrick on Twitter: @PGordonPBR

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