Phillies: Rafael Marchan debuts as J.T. Realmuto remains out
By Matt Rappa
Rafael Marchan, the youngest Phillies starting catcher in nearly 86 years, did not take long to pick up his first career hit
With the status of perennial All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto (hip soreness) still unknown following his MRI — and backup Andrew Knapp coming off of consecutive starts during Sunday’s twin bill doubleheader — the Philadelphia Phillies had to search deeper in their depth chart for a catcher to start in their seven-game series finale Monday evening against the Miami Marlins.
As a result, manager Joe Girardi turned to recently promoted 21-year-old rookie catcher Rafael Marchan, who in his first career MLB at-bat, made a little bit of franchise history. With one out and the count 1-2 in the top of the third inning, the switch-hitter took a four-seam fastball to center field for his first career hit.
As MLB.com’s Andrew Simon notes, Marchan is just the third Phillies player since 1996 to get a hit in their MLB debut at age 21 or younger, joining franchise hits leader Jimmy Rollins (September 17, 2000) and third baseman Scott Rolen (August 1, 1996).
And, as The Athletic’s Matt Gelb shares, Marchan — at 21 years and 202 days old — is the youngest Phillies starting catcher since Joe “Socks” Holden on September 30, 1934.
Marchan finished his debut going 1-for-3, with his other two plate appearances resulting in a groundout and flyout. He also committed a pickoff throwing error in the defeat.
Prior to his Monday debut, Marchan had yet to play at the low Class-A level within the Phillies system. Spanning four professional seasons through 2019, the Venezuela native slashed .285/.342/.345 with 40 doubles, three triples, 79 RBI, 61 walks, and 79 strikeouts — albeit failing to homer even once. Last season alone, only 20 of his 82 hits, contributing to a .261 batting average, went for extra bases; all 20 were doubles. While Marchan’s power numbers are low, it is his defensive skills that have garnered the most praise.
Marchan started the game batting ninth. Meanwhile, Scott Kingery (back) was activated from the 10-day injured list prior to game and started in the lineup one spot ahead of the catcher, batting eighth as the second baseman.
The Phillies continue to fight for a postseason spot with less than two weeks remaining in the 2020 season. If Realmuto is out for an extended prior of time, all eyes will surely turn to Knapp and the rookie Marchan.