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It looks like Freddy Galvis has finally found himself at the plate. Signed by the Phillies as a free agent on July 2, 2006, the 21-year-old switch hitting shortstop also hails from Venezuela and has been extremely good this season, mainly in the field, but more recently at the plate as well.
Galvis, who has been said, in terms of defense, to "have scouts claiming that Galvis could be a major league infielder right now—perhaps even better than average," has been on a tear recently at the plate. After not starting out slow at the beginning of the season, Galvis has begun to hit, which was previously believed to be his biggest block from reaching the major leagues.
Prior to his recent promotion to Triple-A, Galvis hit .273 with eight home runs, 35 RBI, and posted an OPS of .727 in 104 games. He's also speedy, having racked up 19 stolen bases along with hitting 16 doubles and four triples. Sure, those aren't fantastic stats, but given his stellar defense, he doesn't have to worry too much about offense, although should it continue to improve at this rate it would definitely increase the rate at which he reaches the major leagues.
However, at Triple-A, Galvis has been keeping his improving pace alive. In seven games since his promotion on August 2, Galvis has hit .286 with a double and a triple and has posted an OPS of .679 along with stealing a base. Again, given his defensive skills, his hitting isn't as important, but it's also worth noting that players generally don't hit as well upon immediately being promoted from one level of the organization to the next, so we'll be able to see with time just how well Galvis does.
As for Galvis' defense, which I've talked much about but haven't really gone into depth, it's superb. While his fielding percentage at Double-A this season was a below-average .964, fielding percentage isn't the best indicator of how well a player does in the field. A statistic that better shows this is range factor. Range factor's average hovers around 2.15. Galvis' range factor per game stood at 4.15 when he was promoted, and he also helped turn 44 double plays.
That's incredible, and at Triple-A it's shaping up to continue along his usual trend: his range factor per game at Triple-A is currently 4.13, and his fielding percentage is actually 1.000, which means that in his first eight games at triple-A, Galvis has yet to commit an error. Fantastic.
Galvis is probably the player to watch most should he be called up in September. Like Justin De Fratus, Galvis is on the Phillies' 40-man roster, but that's not why he should be watched. Incumbent, former-MVP shortstop and face-of-the-franchise Jimmy Rollins is in the last year of his five-year, $40 million extension he signed during the 2005 season, and with his 2011 club option exercised, all Rollins has left following the season is free agency. He's said that he also won't take a "hometown discount" like Cliff Lee did, meaning that he could demand upwards of a three-year, $30 million contract in the coming offseason. He's currently 32 years old, so if the Phillies don't match Rollins' asking price or decide to let Rollins walk (which would be a stupid move), they'll need a shortstop, and Jose Reyes will probably be out of their price range.
Galvis, whose speed and defense are comparable to that of Rollins, could very well be his replacement should he leave the Phillies via free agency. If Galvis hits well at the major league level given the opportunity, he very well could ease the pain of Phillies fans should Rollins leave, regardless of why. With Rollins' offensive stats decreasing since his 2007 MVP year, he may appeal less to the Phillies, and if he asks for more than what the Phillies deem him to be worth, he could be turned down by the Phillies.
Galvis will almost certainly play sometime in September, not just to give him the chance as a minor leaguer, but because there could be a chance he'll continue playing for the Phillies after the season. If his defense lives up to the hype and he continues to hit like he has been recently, he could take Rollins' job and be the one playing shortstop on Opening Day of 2012.