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What Should We Expect From Freddy Galvis?


It appears that Chase Utley will not be ready to start the season in the major leagues thanks to chronic knee problems, but instead of looking outside the organization for a replacement, the Phillies apparently have decided that shortstop prospect Freddy Galvis will fill the void until Utley returns.

Of course, the question that’s on everyone’s mind now is “How well will Galvis play?” Time will tell, but here’s my look into the crystal ball.

One look at Galvis’ career minor league numbers will make you wonder how anyone could ever conceive of him as a major league player. He’s a career .246/.292/.321 hitter–that’s just appalling. He’s even poor on the bases, successful on just 68 of 101 career steal attempts.

So what puts him into the major league picture at all? Three things:

1) Defense. Galvis is a very impressive defensive shortstop, both in terms of his ability to make flashy plays and his ability to not fumble the routine ones.

2) Age. Galvis has always been very young for his levels–he just turned 22 in November, actually. He has consistently been one of the youngest players in his league, which gives him a partial mulligan for his poor production with the bat.

3) Upward trend. Galvis showed some signs of life with the bat in 2011, hitting .273/.326/.400 in Double-A (up from .233/.276/.311 the year before) and .298/.315/.364 in 33 Triple-A games late in the year. He dramatically improved his Isolated Power (.078 to .114) in particular, showing the ability to drive the ball for the first time.

So, Galvis is not the total non-prospect his numbers suggest–he’s a glove wizard who was competent offensively at age 21 in the upper minors, but has a poor offensive track record before 2011. He’s a solid C+-grade prospect for me.

But what might he do as a major leaguer right now? Well, obviously, his major contributions will come with the glove. I can’t speak to how well his transition to second base will go, since he has zero professional games at the position, but he certainly has the tools to be a well-above-average defender at the position. He could certainly save a run per month with the glove, I think.

As for the hitting, I ran a major league equivalency translation on his 2011 numbers, and it came up with a .237/.271/.327 batting line. MLEs have all sorts of flaws that are probably pretty obvious to most of you reading this, but it’s a decent place to start.

Now, that was a translation of his last season, not a projection of this season. Given that most players improve from age 21 to 22, and Galvis in particular has recently shown lots of improvement with the bat, perhaps he’ll improve to, oh, let’s say .245/.285/.340 this year. That comes basically squarely in between the two projections listed for him on FanGraphs–RotoChamp (.230/.270/.305) and ZiPS (.261/.299/.359). I’d project him to hit somewhere in between those two lines.

For what it’s worth, Galvis is 10-for-36 this spring, and he’s ripped two doubles and a homer. Notably, he’s struck out just three times while walking two. He’s always done a decent job limiting strikeouts, with K rates between 11% and 17% in his career, but if he can find a way to keep the whiffs to the lower end of that range in the majors, he’ll have a chance to be something beyond a total black hole with the stick.

To me, Galvis looks like a replacement-level player for 2012, maybe slightly better–he should be above-average defensively, but could easily be below replacement level with the bat. Given that he does have some things going for him, he should be an acceptable replacement in April, but if Utley’s absence starts to drag toward midseason, Galvis’ inadequacies as a starter may become more apparent.

For more on the Phillies, check out That Balls Outta Here.

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