As time goes by, I am becoming more and more impressed with recent draft pick Austin Filiere (pronounced fill-air). The 8th Round pick out of MIT got in a few games at Mesa before arriving in the Northwest League, and has mostly been playing third base at short-season Eugene since signing his contract. He has shown two strengths in his 45 games: power and the ability to work an at-bat.
21 years old
6-1, 190 lbs.
Home run power
Hitting with two outs, men on base
Areas of Concern
A little pull-happy
When Filiere was drafted, more was made of his college affiliation than his abilities. The esteemed Peter Gammons called him a third baseman who could one day be a GM. Putting his educational pedigree aside, it became clear that there was something there and it all revolved around Filiere’s ability to hit the longball.
A model of consistency, Filiere hit 13 home runs each year at MIT. However, it was the summer of 2016 in the Cape Cod League where he impressed the most. In the wooden-bat league, Filiere hit seven dingers in 117 at-bats for Harwich while batting .248 with a .338 OBP.
Those same numbers have continued at Eugene, where he is hitting .247 with an outstanding .375 OBP. Eugene is not the most homer-friendly environment, but Filiere has cranked out five homers in 42 games. He’s also driven in 24 runs, which isn’t bad at this level.
The 28.8 percent strikeout rate is higher than you’d maybe like to see, but when you look at that .802 OPS, you tend to lose all thoughts of anything else. Filiere gets plenty of elevation, as 64 percent of his batted balls are either line drives or flies, a profile that makes you think his .340 BABIP might be somewhat sustainable. All that leads to a wRC+ of 129, very solid.
One concern I have about his production this year is that he does not use the whole field. He’s pulling 54 percent of balls in play, with only 17 percent to center and 28 percent to right. That can be easily fixed, but I don’t know if it needs to be at this stage in his career.
There’s a lot to like about Filiere. Everything about his power and approach points in the right direction and I have come away impressed a lot by the latter in particular. He has walked 28 times in 193 plate appearances (14.5 percent), which would be good by major league standards. He has also hits better with men on base, boasting an OBP north of .500 in those situations, and has a .298 average with two outs.
Filiere has batted fifth or sixth on occasion, but has hit cleanup for the better part of the summer with the Emeralds. Manager Jesus Feliciano keeps him in the four spot because Filiere has succeeded best there with a .287 average and a .412 OBP.
Barring some unforeseen developments, he will be at South Bend to begin the 2018 season. The Midwest League will be more conducive to his power stroke once May arrives and the chill of early spring departs Northern Indiana. I would like to see his K-rate get down closer to that walk rate, but this young man is going to be fun to watch either way.