Freddy Galvis in limbo

Freddy Galvis, here with the Phillies in 2012, can still be an everyday player, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. says.
Freddy Galvis, here with the Phillies in 2012, can still be an everyday player, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. says. (YONG KIM / Staff)
Posted: August 19, 2013

ALLENTOWN - Freddy Galvis sat in the Lehigh Valley dugout Wednesday and gazed out toward the diamond. No one was in the infield. The game for the triple-A IronPigs would start in 90 minutes, and Galvis would play shortstop. That much he knew. Beyond that, he was not so sure.

"I don't know, man," he said, looking down. "Right now, it's a lot of people with contracts in the big leagues, so . . ." he paused for a moment.

"I don't have a spot."

Galvis was once the future of the Phillies' middle infield. Now, he is a man without a position. Jimmy Rollins is signed through 2014, with a team option for 2015. Chase Utley is signed through 2015, with vesting options for the next three years.

Galvis began playing shortstop soon after he could walk. He has played there since he was 4 years old in Venezuela. His defense adds value; as a hitter, he is middling. But for now, his path to the major-league lineup is blocked.

In the short term, there are Utley and Rollins. In the long-term, he faces competition at shortstop from Roman Quinn, The Inquirer's No. 3-ranked Phillies prospect, and J.P. Crawford, the team's first-round selection earlier this year. Top-ranked prospect Maikel Franco or current starter Cody Asche will likely occupy third base. And Utley's deal could extend for another five years at second.

Galvis surged offensively in 2012 and won the starting job at second base while Utley was on the disabled list. He excelled in the field and plodded along at the plate (he batted .226 with a .617 on-base-plus-slugging percentage in 58 games). Then he was injured and later suspended 50 games for testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs. His opportunity was over.

Galvis' best chance to carve out a role is likely as a utility player. He started this season in that position, but he struggled with infrequent plate appearances. He flirted with the Mendoza Line and was sent down to triple A.

For now, Galvis is in limbo. He is still useful in the event of injury. But to be a long-term option, his bat must close the gap with his glove.

"Who knows when these guys [are hurt]?" general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said of the Phillies' veterans. "They're getting older, and we've seen them go down before, so to have that kind of depth is important."

Amaro said he still thinks Galvis could be an everyday player. Galvis, 23, signed with the Phillies when he was 16 and said he views the organization as a family.

Since his demotion and entering Friday, Galvis batted .257 with 20 RBIs in 45 games. His manager, Dave Brundage, said Galvis remains a work in progress at the plate. His defense still tantalizes.

Even when Galvis doesn't make a play, he is a joy to watch. Two hours after speaking in the dugout, Galvis ran to a grounder up the middle. He slid and fielded the ball on the opposite side of second base.

The runner was safe at first, but there was a murmur in the crowd. That he even got to that ball. How gracefully he had, in one motion, popped up, spun, and fired to first.

"That's why you have him," Brundage said. "That's not to say, hey, scoot over, Jimmy Rollins, or scoot over, Chase Utley, because that's not going to happen. But you also got to make sure you cover your bases for what you have and what he can play. Right now, we all know that he can play a big-league shortstop."

The question is, is there any space to let him?

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