When Tony Gwynn Jr. went on bereavement leave after the death of his father, the Philadelphia Phillies looked around the farm system for an available outfield replacement.
The best they could come up with was Aaron Altherr. Never heard of him? No worries. No one else had before he was recalled from Double A Reading (Pa.). Heck, even some Reading fans might have never heard of him.
Altherr certainly did not earn his major league cup of coffee as he was hitting .245 and that was no typo — a guy hitting .245 in Double A baseball was promoted to the major leagues, and the promotion illustrated more than anything else how far the Phillies’ farm system has fallen and how much it needs to be restocked by the MLB trade deadline. Altherr is gone now because he was optioned back to Reading today, but his call-up should serve as a wake-up call for the entire organization.
Before the call-up, Altherr’s major claim to fame was that he played for the German National Team (pictured) in the World Baseball Classic. He was eligible for that squad because he was born in Germany. Altherr certainly has done little to warrant confidence so far, hitting .214 for the Phillies’ rookie league team in Clearwater in 2009 and following that up with a .211 season in Single A Lakewood (N.J.). A second year in Lakewood produced a .252 average before he was promoted to the Clearwater Single A team (the Phils have two minor league teams in Clearwater).
Altherr’s stint in the majors was short-lived, but his shocking appearance in Philadelphia should help the organization decide to hit the reset button on its minor-league system.