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Former 1st-round draft pick, NL All-Star David Dahl makes big first impression with Phillies

 The Associated Press  |    Jun 4th, 2024 8:39pm EDT

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Rob Thomson had a quick reply as to what would keep David Dahl — a former first-round draft pick and NL All-Star since banished to the minors — in the lineup after he went deep in his Philadelphia Phillies’ debut.

“If he keeps hitting home runs,” quipped Thomson, the third-year manager.

In his first at bat in Game 2 of his Phillies’ career, Dahl knocked one high, deep and was going, going, well, just off the top of the left field wall that forced him to settle Tuesday for a stand-up double.

Dahl impressed Monday in his first game with a single in his first at bat, and he hit his first big league homer since April 3, 2023 to help the Phillies beat the Milwaukee Brewers. Dahl started in left field for the second straight game Tuesday in place of Brandon Marsh, who is on the 10-day injured list with a left hamstring strain.

“He can hit, no doubt about it,” Thomson said.

A 6-foot-1, left-handed hitter, Dahl once seemed like a no-doubt-about-it prospect when Colorado made him the 10th over pick of the 2012 draft.

He never made much of an impact with the Rockies except for a solid first half of 2019 for a 91-loss team that earned him an All-Star berth. He only played 100 games in 2019 and Colorado let him go after 2020, leaving him essentially a career journeyman. His career derailed by injuries, Dahl made quick stops with five other teams (playing in just 67 big league games) before he signed a minor league deal in February with the Phillies.

Dahl’s quick start in Philly let him pick up where he left off at Triple-A Lehigh Valley, where he was leading the team in batting average (.340), hits (50) and home runs (12).

“I was just trying to be where my feet were there and just try to play hard and play the right way and hopefully an opportunity would work itself out,” Dahl said at his locker before Tuesday’s game.

Marsh, batting .265 with six homers and 26 RBIs in 52 games, was hurt running the bases Sunday night.

Dahl arrived at the ballpark Monday a couple of hours before the first pitch for his first major league game since April 4, 2023, with San Diego. He lined a full-count fastball from Bryse Wilson into the right-field seats for a solo shot that made it 3-1, giving him his first multi-hit game in the majors since July 25, 2021, with Texas.

“A lot of people were excited to see me back,” Dahl said. “It took a while to go to sleep. Just kind of up watching the homer a few times.”

There is no guarantee he will stick around once Marsh returns to the lineup — the Phillies told Dahl when they demoted him at the end of spring training to stay ready in case an opportunity popped up. With Marsh, Nick Castellanos, Johan Rojas, Cristian Pache and Whit Merrifield, the Phillies have outfield depth to spare as they chase their first World Series title since 2008.

But another season in the minors for an outfielder who hit 31 homers over the 2018 and 2019 seasons was tough to accept, even with no other real option to return to the majors.

“It’s really hard. Really hard,” he said. “Just tried to show up every day and play hard.”

He roomed with Phillies teammate Jeff Hoffman in the Rockies organization and it was the reliever who sold Dahl in the offseason about signing with Philadelphia.

“Just talked about how it’s a family here and how well they treat us,” Dahl said. “He was raving about the Phillies.”

And over two nights in Philly, fans had every reason to rave about David Dahl.


AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb

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The Associated Press