Disciplined Eric Filia Surges Onto Mariners' Radar
Almost an afterthought when selected in the 20th round in 2016, right fielder Eric Filia now has the Mariners’ full attention after a breakout performance in the desert.
The 25-year-old Filia led the Arizona Fall League with a .408 average, a .483 on-base percentage and a 1.088 OPS while helping Peoria to the title. That came after he batted .326/.407/.434 with five home runs in 138 games at high Class A Modesto on the Nuts' run to the California League title. He led the league with 65 walks against just 45 strikeouts.
"He’s been awesome, really, since the day he came into the system,” general manager Jerry Dipoto said. "You look at his numbers, and it’s hard to believe he manages the strike zone as well as he does.
"He’s always hit. He hit in college. He’s really hit as a pro. He just took it to a different level in the Fall League.”
Filia’s performance in the AFL convinced club officials he wasn’t simply overmatching younger competition in the low minors.
"Next year, he’ll play at 26 years old,” Dipoto said, "and we feel it’s a chance to move two or maybe three more levels. You can do the math.”
A two-level jump would put the lefthanded-hitting Filia at Triple-A Tacoma to start 2018—and under a greater spotlight in a farm system thinned by trades.
Filia fell under the radar at UCLA when he missed the 2014 and 2015 seasons because of an injury and a suspension. He returned in 2016 and batted .295 with limited power but drew the Mariners’ attention because of his .415 OBP.
Assigned to short-season Everett after he signed, Filia blossomed immediately. He won the Northwest League batting (.362) and OBP (.450) titles as well as the circuit's MVP award.
Because he was 24 when he signed and had lost two complete college seasons, Filia failed to crack the organization’s Top 30 Prospects after the 2016 season.
That will change heading into 2018.
"He understands how to manage an at-bat as well as anybody in our organization,” Dipoto said. "He's not a huge power bat; more of a contact-to-the-gaps bat. But he has a .422 on-base percentage (over two minor league seasons).
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"Guys who do that play in the big leagues. That’s as simple as I can make it.”