Saturday, September 17, 2011

Pigs to the Bigs: Profiling the Phillies September Call Ups

Immediately after the Lehigh Valley IronPigs were eliminated from the playoffs I received a text message alerting as to me who the Phillies had called up.  I thought I’d let everyone know exactly what the Phillies were getting down the stretch in those guys.

Brandon Moss

Moss was probably the best IronPig player this year.  He has fringe average tools across the board.  Average power, speed, defense, plate discipline, all sorts of stuff that makes you great at AAA.  He’d probably make most 25 man rosters as a bench guy.  He really closes himself off with his stride, leading me to believe he’ll struggle with well placed inside pitches. 

Erik Kratz

Kratz is the right catcher to call up.  Some other employees and I were debating whether Dane Sardinha or Kratz would be called up and why.  It was an interesting conversation to have since Kratz and Sardinha are diametric opposites.  Sardinha is a terrific defender while Kratz is atrocious behind the plate but the better hitter of the two.  Kratz has a long, slow stroke but is bull strong and has above average pull power.  He can be beaten by breaking balls that run away from him.  As I said before, he’s a defensive liability.  I routinely get pop times from Kratz in the 2.2s.  That’s slow.  He’ll pinch hit in certain situations but I’d be surprised if he got even one start down the stretch.  Brian Schneider could use the reps in case he’s pressed into playoff action and it would be foolish for Charlie Manuel to let Kratz take those innings away from Schneider.

Joe Savery

This is very interesting.  Savery was drafted as a pitcher out of Rice University in 2007’s first round.  The Phils were taking a medical risk on Savery who was coming off a surgery (as if drafting a pitcher from Rice wasn’t risky enough…they’re all overworked in college and get hurt).  He didn’t pan out.  His fastball velocity dipped to the mid 80s, he wasn’t accelerating his arm at all, and he was walking lots of hitters.  It was a disaster.  This year the Phillies decided to put a bat in his hands full time (Savery also played 1B at Rice and was a good hitter) and Savery responded by hitting well at High-A before falling off at upper levels.  Roster crunches and injuries pressed Savery back into action as a pitcher at AAA.  Suddenly, his velocity is in the low 90s.  He touched 93mph Friday night.  He hasn’t thrown that hard since his freshman year of college.  He also throws an upper 70s/low 80s breaking ball which needs refining.  He’s no longer the Fastball, Curveball, Changeup guy he was in college.  He’ll be exclusively Fastball/Slider for now if the Phils are smart.  He may carve out a role as a multi-inning lefty in the Phillies bullpen next year.  He gets a short audition now.

Justin De Fratus

Another guy auditioning for a bullpen spot next year.  De Fratus mixes a mid-90s fastball with a low 80s slider.  Both can get swings and misses.  He has an athletic delivery and uses his lower half well.  He’s a future big league reliever and I like the idea of giving him some low-pressure innings in the bigs this year.

Domonic Brown

Brownie’s hand is, to me, clearly not healed.  He’s had trouble squeezing fly balls in his glove, he doesn’t show the kind of batting practice power he’s shown in the past, his bat is slower and I’ve even seen kickback on his bat against plus velocity.  The broken hand won’t be healed until next season and Brown won’t be an asset until then.  He should be left off the playoff roster.  Let’s hope the kid’s confidence has been broken and he comes back to claim the job in LF next season.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

MLB Prospect Scouting Report: Freddy Galvis

Freddy Galvis
Age: 21
Bats: Switch
Height- 5’9”
Weight- 170lbs
From: Venezuela

Jimmy Rollins is a free agent at the end of the 2011 season.  While it’s likely he’ll be back in a Phillies uniform for a few more years, the possibility that he’ll move on to another team is non-zero.  The list of potential free agent replacements is not awe inspiring.  It consists of glove-only journeymen (Jack Wilson, Nick Punto, Alex Gonzalez) and washed-up ex-stars (Rafael Furcal, Orlando Cabrera, Edgar Renteria).  Unless the Phillies were to break the bank to sign the injury-riddled Jose Reyes (a precarious investment to say the least) they’d have to look beyond free agency to replace Rollins should he leave.

The solution may already be in the organization.  21 year old Freddy Galvis has improved in areas of previous concern this year and has surpassed even the loftiest expectations.  Signed as a 16 year old for $90,000, the Phillies were already interested in Galvis when h was just 14.  Galvis’ skills are scarce in today's baseball.  It’s hard to find a good shortstop.  Replacement level at shortstop is appallingly low.  Yuniesky Betancourt sports a .270 OBP, is poor defensively and is still hovering at replacement level. 


Heading into 2011, Galvis had been offensively atrocious in every season of his professional career.  He never posted an OBP over .300.  He never slugged over .311.  Suddenly, he started hitting.  This year, Galvis’s OBP climbed to .324 at AA Reading (that’s right around Major League Average) and .315 at AAA Lehigh Valley.  He’s slugged .392 across those two levels and hit 8 HRs (he had 10 total HRs over his 4 previous pro seasons) and a career high 28 doubles.  Add 5 triples to that and Galvis has 41 extra base hits between AA and AAA as a 21 year old.

I do not know if/what Glavis has done to alter his swing mechanics since I had not seen his swing enough before this year to compare his current swing to.  What I can comment on is what he’s working with now.  Galvis keeps his feet very simple.  There’s not big stride or kick of any kind, he’s very low maintenance.  I don’t like when hitters take long strides because I think it can lead to problems against breaking balls.  He shows good balance in the swing.  As we move up to the hips we start to see why Galvis only has 18 HRs in 5 seasons.  The hip rotation is slow, he generates no torque with which to produce power.  His hands and arms are weak, so weak that he essentially uses his entire upper body to whip the bat through the zone.  He’s gotten good enough at it that he squares up balls and lines them into either gap, hence all the doubles and triples this season.  The swing path is flat.  He’ll hit a bunch of line drives and ground balls but the swing is entirely loftless.  The bat speed is slightly above average.


Galvis is one of the best defensive shortstops in all of minor league baseball.  He has good range to his left, and average range to his right.  A plus arm both on velocity and accuracy.  He is especially good at charging softly hit grounders, reacting so quickly that he gets to balls before they leave the infield grass, then gobbling up the ball on a perfectly timed hop before making a lightning fast transfer to his throwing hand and firing to first on the run.  His glove is where fluky infield hits go to die.  He’s not especially acrobatic.  Humpback line drives will get over his head when you consider that he’s 5’9” without a spectacular vertical leap, but how often do those actually happen?


I’ve timed Galvis from home to first at 4.15 and 4.09 seconds from the left side and 4.23 from the right side which makes him a 55 runner.  He’ll be an asset on the bases and can probably swipe an inefficient 30 bases a year, though I’d rather have him steal 15 without getting caught.

The year Galvis had at the plate is probably his eventual ceiling in the big leagues.  A .270/.320/.370 line combined with plus-defense at the most premium of positions with some value added on the bases? Sign me up.  That’s a 2.5-4 WAR player.  He could use another year at AAA to further develop the bat.  Galvis could either be the Phillies starting SS next year or be traded if the Phils lock up Rollins for 3 years this winter.