Unlike the fertile ground being laid for young pitchers in the Phillies organization, infielders are a bit harder to find at Spring Training. Howard, Utley, Rollins, and now Polanco fill out an infield squad that has only gotten better, and with Ryan learning how to play defense in 2009, they’re predatory on either side of the ball.
Oh, hello, SS Freddy Galvis. Didn’t, uh… didn’t see you there.
J-Roll just got himself optioned through 2011, which (barring a deluge of atrocities) puts a strictly background roll on most developing shortstops. Galvis, now 20, is going to Clearwater for Spring Training this year to put what got him a ticket to Reading this past season: silky smooth defending.
July 2, 2006: Freddy packs up and departs from Punto Vijo, Venezuela to eventually make his American baseball debut in Williamsport, PA in 2007.
Then, without really putting together a tremendous batting average, again, Galvis was bounced up to Lakewood for 2008, then burned through a fling with the Gulf Coast League Phillies and spent most of 2009 in Clearwater. However, by late August, Galvis was a teenager playing AA baseball in Reading.
And so, his ability to adapt was called on once again as he traveled from Clearwater, FL to Reading, PA.
“!” and “?” went the internet. In a shocking move, a few fans went with “?!” They didn’t like his offense. They didn’t like his size. They didn’t like his stance. “He looked like a baby out there,” they said. They definitely didn’t like the less than dominant batting average (.251 in Clearwater, .197 in Reading)
But boy… this baby could field.
A .969 fielding percentage while in Clearwater before his promotion; Baseball America called him the Phillies’ “Best Defensive Infielder” and “Best Infield Arm” of 2008.
“Smooth as glass,” people called him. “Confident and taking charge out there.” He is a defensive shortstop; not one of these lead-off, walk off double-smashing, earthquake-evading, National League MVP’s we may have become used to seeing between second and third base in Philadelphia.
He was only the 11th teenager to play baseball for Reading at age 19; the first since 2000. At the very least, he wasn’t shoplifting hair products or trying to smoke pot out of an aluminum foil pipe or whatever the devil teens were doing at the time.
And he even had a five-game hit streak going just before he caught his red eye to the Keystone State. Some ripples of offense are better than a dead, stagnant pond. Right, Eric Bruntlett? Enjoy scenic Washington. If you make the team.
Like I said, Jimmy Rollins just had his option exercised through 2011, with 8.5 million exclamation points after it. As the former Rookie of the Year runner-up enters, or continues, his veteran years as the longest tenured Phillie, how anxious would the organization be to cultivate somewhat of a one-sided replacement for a SS who does everything with talent and a winning smile?
Let’s say Galvis scampers into the weight room and comes back with a frame that robs him of the ability to slide through doggy doors (he’s currently 5′ 10″, 168 lbs). Suddenly, his .197 BA (in a significantly higher amount of games) becomes… significantly higher. It doesn’t flip on like a light switch, but let’s say he’s got an unbridled sense of dedication and really wails on himself.
Okay, great. Now he’s a little closer to Jason Donald (6′ 1″, 190 lbs). Which is who he’s really replacing. Time is what Galvis needs, though time alone won’t put the ball through the gap. To attempt and round himself out, and become more than a glove, Galvis needs to develop offensively at the level he’s on.
Time, we’ve got. For now.