Reading Phillies shortstop Freddy Galvis became a rising star this season at the Double A level. Formerly regarded as a player who was strong on defense but lacked the abilities at the plate that would allow him to ascend upward to the highest levels of the sport, the 21-year-old is shining brightly; so much so, the Phillies are moving him up to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. He'll join the Iron Pigs on Tuesday - one step closer to the top.
After batting .188 in 21 games late last year in the Venezuelan Winter League, Galvis' bonus season was cut short by the Phillies, who requested that he report to their spring training headquarters in Clearwater, Florida to work out and increase his physical strength. The off-season training lasted roughly two months for Galvis, who focused on developing his core, but also improved his throwing arm and mostly his ability to drive the ball.
Aside from the enhanced physique, Galvis' placement in the batting order has helped his offensive production, according to Reading Phillies manager, Mark Parent. The first year skipper of the R-Phils placed Galvis' name higher in the lineup than it had been in years past. After spending much of his career batting 8th and 9th in lineups while sporting a .233 career batting average and collecting 10 home runs in four professional seasons, Galvis was moved to the top of the batting order this year and has shown great improvement.
"To him, his at bats become more important," Parent stated. "He had to become more accountable for his offensive production, batting higher in the order. So, he's taking it more seriously."
His .273 batting average and career-high 8 homeruns through 104 games stand as evidence of how serious Galvis' focus and abilities have become.
The switch-hitting shortstop echoes his manager's batting order sentiments.
"When you have confidence, you can do more stuff," Galvis said. "And last year, I batted eighth a lot and sometimes when you bat down in the order you know you have to do your job, but you don't feel too much motivation. Right now, hitting first, I know I have to be better and I have to get things started to help the team."
With an unclear future for current Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins, whose contract expires at the end of this season, some folks have begun to look toward Galvis as a potential successor. But before Galvis breaks into the majors, the club wants to see how he performs against the veteran talent in Triple-A.
Recently, Galvis felt a promotion wasn't far off. Turns out, his play would get him to the next level. Galvis said, "I feel like I could play in Triple-A, but I don't make the decision. [The Phillies] will make the decision when they feel I'm ready. I feel like I could play there and I'll just keep playing hard and let the guys in charge make the decision."
Well, Galvis is ready and the Phillies are now, too.
Galvis batted .293 in 27 July games, capping it off with a streak of 10 games in which he posted a .390 batting average. With the hot stretch in mind, Parent foresees further improvement for the Venezuelan youngster; the Double-A skipper thinks he could become much more dangerous as he develops more power.
"He's not a big guy. He's still got a lot of baby in him. He's young. He doesn't have any grown-ass man strength yet," Parent said.
After facilitating a reputation that had him billed as an all-defense, no-offense prospect, things have obviously turned around for Galvis. According to Parent, who is regarded as a hitting guru and is destined for a Major League coaching gig, Galvis has certainly raised his ceiling in the eyes of the Phillies organization.
"I would certainly think, from what I've heard, that he's opened up some eyes. He is maybe looked at instead of just a guy who can come in as a defensive replacement as a guy who can come in for an extended period of time. He's 21. What's to say he can't get better, get stronger and be an everyday shortstop in the Major Leagues one day?"
As Galvis makes the leap to Lehigh Valley, and possibly a shot with the big league Phillies as a September callup (he is on the 40-man roster), he simply plans to have fun playing a game that he loves.
"You have to have fun," Galvis admitted. "This is a game, so you have to enjoy it."
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