Phillies' Freddy Galvis making case for roster spot

YONG KIM / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Freddy Galvis shows signs of improving with the bat.
YONG KIM / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Freddy Galvis shows signs of improving with the bat.
Posted: March 12, 2013

KISSIMMEE, Fla. - Charlie Manuel has been adamant all spring about his desire to have 23-year-old infielder Freddy Galvis on his roster. While the Phillies have some concerns about getting the switch-hitting defensive star enough work at the plate to continue his development, their manager is convinced of two things: 1) He can get Galvis 250 at-bats over the course of the season; 2) 250 at-bats at the major league level would be more beneficial to Galvis than 450 at-bats in the minors.

In Sunday's 7-1 win over the Astros at Osceola County Stadium, Galvis continued to strengthen his manager's case by going 3-for-4 with a double, two RBI and a run scored.

In 13 Grapefruit League games, he is 12-for-39 (.308), with seven of those hits going for extra bases (five doubles, a triple and a homer). Through the last 2 years, Galvis has shown good gap power when he makes contact. Combined with his stellar defensive ability at shortstop, second base and third base, that alone is enough to keep him in the majors. But his ceiling as a hitter will be determined by how consistently he can put together at-bats like the ones he has produced over the past few games.

"I have to be consistent," Galvis said.

In 200 plate appearances for the Phillies last season, Galvis hit for extra bases at a rate greater than Ryan Howard or Jimmy Rollins (9.5 percent of his plate appearances resulted in extra-base hits, compared with 8.7 for Rollins and 8.6 for Howard). But he drew just seven walks and hit just .226 for a woeful .254 on-base percentage.

The number of outs Galvis creates at the plate is what prompted the Phillies to deal for veteran Michael Young in the offseason rather than enter 2013 with Galvis at third base. But Manuel is going to be looking for reasons to get his glove in the field, and if Galvis shows some consistency at the plate, he could earn even more playing time.

"I think the way he plays the game, if he hit .260, .270, he's going to be a big-time player, man," Manuel said, then referring to an example from his Cleveland days. "I saw Omar Vizquel when he hit like .190, and that's part of the reason why we got him in a trade, and he did nothing but improve. Freddy can definitely do that."

Vizquel, the 11-time Gold Glove shortstop, hit just .256/.315/.314 in his first seven seasons in the majors. But from the ages of 29 to 39 he hit .285/.355/.382.

Still, Galvis has plenty to prove at the plate, particularly now that pitchers know he can drive a fastball when he gets hold of one.

"I think last year, he was new, and they were not afraid in situations to throw him fastballs," Manuel said. "I think now that they know him a little bit they will probably work him him a little different. But he can definitely handle it. He can make adjustments."

The Phillies will enter the season with Young as their regular third baseman and Kevin Frand-sen as their top offensive utility man. Assuming Galvis makes the Opening Day roster over veteran Yuniesky Betancourt, he would likely see action as a late-game defensive replacement as well as an occasional starter at both third base and second base. From that point on, it will be up to him to show that he can hit well enough to warrant even more playing time.


On Twitter: @HighCheese

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