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Eric Filia Scouting Report, Seattle Mariners — January, 2018

Full Name: Eric Robert Filia
DOB: July 6, 1992 (25)
Birthplace: Huntington Beach, CA
School: UCLA
Acquired: 20th Round, 2016 MLB Draft
Height, Weight: 6’0”, 189 lbs.
Position: OF, 1B
Bats/Throws: L/R
Dates Observed: 2017 — May 4-7; June 16-17; July 31-August 1; September 12-15; October 18-November 15
Affiliate(s): Modesto Nuts; Peoria Javelinas (High-A, Seattle Mariners; Arizona Fall League)
Previous Coverage: October 2017 — Click Here; June 2017 — Click Here; June 2018 — Click Here

Tool (PV/FV)
Notes & Comments
Hit (70/75)
Flat out best prospect hit tool I’ve seen entering my fourth year of covering minor leaguers. Very unique stance and approach with remarkable penchant for contact; mechanics are a mix of Craig Counsell and Tony Batista, to say the least. Very, very wide open stance with low crouch before stride; hands extremely high — literally up and over the top of his head — but remarkably consistent to get into a hitting position at load with enough bat speed and top-level pitch recognition to track pitches deep and still fire off in time. Preternatural contact ability; absurd feel for putting the barrel on the ball and making solid line drive contact gap to gap with a predominantly back-up-the-middle orientation. Remarkable strike zone discipline and pitch recognition unique to my now three years of covering minor league baseball players. After seeing Eric Filia play a lot this summer, I toyed with grading him out as an 8 here, before ultimately deciding to temper it slightly accounting for smaller, but legitimate, concerns (hitter’s league in 2017, his age vs. the competition, etc.). Regardless, the hit tool is for real and will carry him everywhere he goes.

Power (30/40)
As certain as his hit tool may be, Filia lacks raw and projectable power despite having a strong, muscular frame and decent enough size to drive the ball. Orientation is to contact, and he’s more liable to go up the middle and the other way before pulling the ball in the air with authority. That’s fine, were it not for the fact that he’s a corner outfielder with an expectation of power projection in his role moving forward. Filia shows little ability to tap into over-the-fence pop even as an older prospect in a very hitter-friendly league. Furthermore, he’s physically maxed out right now with very little — if any — room to grow into his already muscular (top half) physique. To that end, he’ll have to really hit for average and get on base with little margin for error there to overcompensate for lack of expected power, and his well below-average grade-out here may ultimately limit his ceiling towards a more utility/platoon-based role.

Glove (45/45)
Unremarkable defender both with his glove and his arm; the Seattle Mariners experimented with him at first base some during AFL play and he hung in there well enough, though he looked pretty green. Gets good reads on balls hit in the air in the outfield, and has good-enough foot speed to back it up as a potential corner outfielder who will hold his own in time; for me, not at or above big league average with the glove, but far from a defensive liability.

Arm (45/45)
Unremarkable defender both with his glove and his arm; probably good enough to play right field long-term but certainly not notable in velocity, carry, strength, accuracy. Big, strong upper body limiting some arm action and ideal mechanics, but he’s not overly bulky or inflexible. May be best suited towards left field full-time in the future, or a utility role incorporating both corner outfield spots and first base, where his arm is less likely to be consistently tested. For me, not at or above big league average with the arm, but far from a defensive liability.

Speed (40/45)
Large range of times home to first from 4.18 - 4.36, but main cluster clocks him out of the LHH box to first base at around 4.28 seconds; slightly below average runner by times, but far from a bad athlete overall. Moves fairly well physically with good first step out of the box when necessary. Shot to improve speed slightly in time considering his flirtation with sub-4.20 times on occasion; won’t be a steal threat, but enough speed to play up his outfield defense some.

Enjoyed a truly remarkable 2017 season with Modesto, and capped it off with an eye-opening performance as the best hitter wire-to-wire at the Arizona Fall League in October and November. Proceeded to screw it all up with a failed drug test (drug of abuse) over the winter, for which he’ll sit out for the first portion of the 2018 regular season on the suspended list. Makeup questions abound, unfortunately; extremely nice, polite, respectful kid who nevertheless was booted off his UCLA baseball team for a full year for plagiarism issues before being reinstated (hence his one-year-older age at entry into pro ball), and now must deal with consequences of his actions here, too. Father to children at home; had twins that were born prematurely during the 2017 season. Very little margin of error in baseball already considering his age and the level at which he excelled in 2017; he erased some of those questions by dominating at the Arizona Fall League, and then put all those questions right back on the table with his failed drug test afterwards. Tough to watch happen; exceedingly easy guy to root for, very easy-going personality, truly one of the nicest guys in the Cal League in 2017, with a good family and good support system that you’d hope will have his back through this very untimely suspension. Now must re-prove himself to the Seattle Mariners all over again.

OFP (50 FV)
Enigmatic prospect to follow considering his particular set of tools and the context surrounding his age and placement in 2017. Easy for some to write him off on account of age (or, now, the drug test failure), but that’s unwise; his hit tool can play with the best of them and it should carry him to the big leagues. For my money, I think it’s unlikely he ever develops average power (unless he completely abandons his approach, which would be a mistake), and so you’re left with a unique corner outfielder who barrels everything and walks a ton, yet just doesn’t produce pop. At absolute ceiling, and depending on the roster constructed around him, that’s enough to get Eric Filia a shot as an everyday regular, whether in one spot or rotating around between the outfield corners and first base in some type of consistent platoon. If he falls short of that, it’s likely he’ll carve out a niche as a utility/bench option who could provide significant value as a pinch hitter and fill-in. Above all, though, after a full year successfully proving himself against a backdrop of age and makeup questions, Eric Filia must do it all over again in 2018. He has the hit tool to make that happen. Expect him to see Double-A Arkansas when the suspension is lifted, and likely some time with Triple-A Tacoma before the year is out. MLB ETA: 2019.

Eric Filia Scouting Report, Seattle Mariners — Game Video

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Bobby DeMuro

Bobby DeMuro is the founder of Baseball Census. A former college and independent league baseball player, he now watches more than 200 games a year working full time for the site. You can follow him on Twitter @BobbyDeMuro for more.

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One Comment

  1. Recently-acquired Red Sox prospect Eric Filia is worth watching - Red Sox Unfiltered

    June 13, 2018 at 7:36 am

    […] offensive abilities, read this glowing review coming into this season about the left-handed hitter courtesy of Baseball Census, which was preceded by a 70/75 Hit […]

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