Inciarte impresses, but not a roster lock

Phillies' Ender Inciarte throws the ball in during the 7th inning. Phillies win 2-1 over the Pittsburgh Pirates in Clearwater, Fl. on March 14, 2013. ( DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff Photographer )

Ender Inciarte might not have a name that rolls of the tongue, but he’s been a favorite of Charlie Manuel in his postgame briefings with the press this spring.

The Rule 5 pick continued that trend on Thursday.

Enciarte, who started in center field, went 1-for-3 with a double and also threw out a runner a runner at home to end the second inning. Manuel called it a “tremendous throw,” and it was pretty impressive.

Inciarte is hitting .294 (5-for-17) in 13 games this spring.

But even with Delmon Young slated to begin the season on the DL, Inciarte is surely no slam dunk to make the Opening Day roster. The 22-year-old Inciarte never played above Class A while in the Diamondbacks organization, and thus, has some developing to do as a young player.

“You’re asking a kid a whole lot to be a utility player at 21, 22 years old,” Manuel said following Thursday’s 2-1 win over the Pirates. “I know we’ll discuss it, but when you stop and think about it, you’re trying to make a utility guy out a guy 21, 22 years old.

“By being realistic about it, that can set him back in his development. But also too, if we take him, if something happens and he does make our team, he’d be getting in the game for defense but how many at-bats he could get would come into play, too.”

As a Rule 5 pick, Inciarte has to stay on the major league roster all season. In order to send him to the minor leagues, the Phillies would first have to offer him back to Arizona.

The two teams could also work out a trade.