Friday night was the opening night of winter ball in Venezuela, a league (just like in the Dominican) in which both veterans and prospects/young players play together. For many, they are there to get some extra practice in, for others it is just a return back home to have some fun, and for some it is a desperate last chance to prove that they are worth an invite to spring training. For the Phillies’ Freddy Galvis, the story is a little different.
Galvis didn’t disappoint (and lived up to all the scouting reports and everything we saw in his brief time in the majors) on the defensive side of the ball with some fantastic plays in the winter league opener. Not only does Galvis have very good range and athleticism, he has a strong accurate arm with good instincts as to where the ball is going. I was having Brendan Ryan withdrawals with the regular season ending, but Galvis was doing his best to fill the void.
The show wasn’t all about the glove though, as he also smacked a homer as a left-handed hitter (Galvis is a switch hitter) to right-field. He had another nice hit up the middle. This is more of his offensive game, as he hit a few grounders up the middle. He bails out a little bit from the left side, which won’t help his power.
In 2012, his first taste of the big leagues, he didn’t exactly impress offensively before getting injured/suspended for PEDs. In 200 plate appearances, he had just a 64 wRC + with a 3.5% BB rate. He didn’t show much power, but at least he had a decent (but not great) strikeout rate (the same as two other shortstops, Ruben Tejeda and Starlin Castro). His contact rate was 85.3 % which is the same as Buster Posey and Kurt Suzuki. The problem with Galvis has always been that he has never really hit. There was a reason he played in 258 AA games. While he was certainly young for the league (remember that he is still just 22), he was dreadful with the bat. In fact, here is his OPS + and wOBA + in every step in the minors so far (remember that 100 is league average):
He has never been even average in whatever league he is playing in.
Overall, his spray chart was pretty even this year (which you would expect from a switch hitter):
Galvis had a decent .875 xOPS on balls off the bat with an above league average .753 xOPS overall. So at least according to that metric, he is an above average hitter. He also had a respectable 263.868 average feet per batted ball. For comparison, the Phillies starting 2nd baseman Chase Utley had a 264.803 average feet per batted ball in 2012. 1st baseman Ryan Howard had an impressive 272.135 per batted ball, but also had a disastrous K/BB.
It looks like Galvis is struggling with pitches above the strike zone:
For comparison, here is his teammate Jimmy Rollins in the last 3 months of 2012, who has developed into a pretty patient hitter:
Clearly Galvis is not a very disciplined hitter at this point, and while Rollins has shown that it can improve, his walk percentage was never as low as Galvis’ is.
As far as speed goes, I’ve timed him at 3.67 on a bunt, a good not great bunt time. He is 4.34-4.37 from the right side on on bunts. This is in the range of Matt Dominguez and Cody Ross, two players that are obviously not fast. He did have some decent speed scores in the minors and his speed rating is 75 according to the Baseball Cube. According to FanGraphs, his baserunning was about league average this year.
He certainly looks healthy in Venezuela, but there is obviously a question as to where he fits in with the Phillies. With Utley and Rollins, there isn’t a real position for him to play other than 3rd base (where he would obviously be better than Ty Wiggington). There seems to be some potential in his bat, but it is hard to expect him to put it all together next year.
So, at least at this point, Galvis seems to be well below average in one facet of the game, while he is well above average in another facet. His speed is the wild card and I think seriously affects his value. If you do believe his speed is good, then he seems like a starter that you can bat at the bottom of the order. If he is below average, then he is a utility player with a good glove (that is unless you believe he will improve offensively with age). If you believe that his speed is an average asset, then he is probably a fringe starter. He could be trade bait for a team that needs a good defensive middle infielder (the Tigers come to mind, as they will probably decline Jhonny Peralta’s option), but the Phillies may want to hang on to him with a team that has been obviously aging over the last couple of years.