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Phillies Rafael Marchan the star of spring training so far

Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)
Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images) /

An unlikely Phillies prospect is getting a lot of hype in spring training

Going into spring training the prospects Phillies fans knew the most about were, rightfully so, Alec Bohm and Spencer Howard.

On Monday, catching prospect Rafael Marchan made a name for himself with a couple of big plays and praise from big league manager, and former catcher, Joe Girardi.

“He’s the block master,” Girardi said after the Phillies second win of the spring. “The master. That might have been the best exhibition of blocking I’ve ever seen in one game.”

Marchan made a nice block in the sixth inning and nearly caught a runner, which would have been his second of the day. Last year he caught 31 runners and has a career 36% caught stealing.

While he’s a career .285 hitter in 210 minor league games, he hit just .261 in Single and Advanced-A last year and hasn’t hit a home run since he started in the Phillies organization as a 17-year-old out of Venezuela.

With J.T. Realmuto already settled in as the Phillies starting catcher, there hasn’t been a lot of attention on the other catchers in camp. However, Andrew Knapp is recovering from a sore rib cage, Deivy Grullon has an infected tooth, and Christian Bethancourt got clubbed with a backswing on Sunday.

Marchan has never played above A+ ball and turns 21 on Feb. 25, so it’s not as if he’s competing for the big league backup job in camp. He’s simply going out and balling with the big league coaching staff’s eyes on him.

The Phillies hope to have Realmuto locked in with a long-term deal, but (God forbid) there’s any issues with that, the Phillies have catching depth way down in their system. Along with Marchan the Phillies have Rodolfo Duran, Andrick Nava, Deivy Grullon, Logan O’Hoppe, and Abrahan Gutierrez all on their Baseball America top-30 prospect list (subscription required).

Hopefully some of those catchers turn into trade bait when the Phillies get Realmuto locked in. Many of them are years away from ever potentially making an impact on the big league team, but for Marchan, the path could be shorter with the way he’s played in spring training.