In 2016, the Philadelphia Phillies will be going with a placeholder as their starting shortstop for a 2nd straight season.
Bridging the gap between longtime icon and World Series championand the future at shortstop, #1 prospect , the key position will once again this season be held down by .
After Rollins was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in December of 2014, and with Crawford emerging as the clear future choice but not yet ready, the position was handed to Galvis a year ago.
The now 26-year old had spent three years as an infield backup, appearing in 41 games during the 2012-14 seasons at shortstop.
This included 25 games as the primary backup to Rollins in 2014 during what was JRoll’s last of 14 mostly spectacular seasons as the Phillies’ shortstop.
No one expected Galvis to be what Rollins had been: a league MVP, postseason hero, three-time All-Star, five-time Gold Glover. It was simply hoped that he could field the position well, and toss in the odd clutch hit.
Galvis was signed by the Phillies as an amateur free agent back in 2006 out of his native Venezuela as a 16-year old.
He played at every level of the minor league organization during the time that the Major League version of the club was a consistent winner.
In his seven minor league seasons, Galvis hit for a .246/.291/.334 slash line over 2,631 plate appearances.
He produced 25 homers, 99 doubles, 18 triples, and 73 stolen bases in that time, scoring 310 runs.
Defensively, Galvis was solid, if unspectacular. His RF/9 (range factor per 9 innings) was a cumulative 4.55, and he had a .974 fielding percentage, making 72 errors over 2,739 chances handled at the shortstop position.
The bottom line is that Galvis did not appear to be a big league starting caliber shortstop, either during his minor league development, or during his time with the Phillies as a backup.
When Galvis was inserted as the starter, it was obvious to everyone that this was purely a temporary arrangement. He would be the placeholder at the position until Crawford was ready.
In the 2015 season, Galvis performed pretty much as one might have expected. He produced a .263/.302/.343 slash line over 603 plate appearances, with seven home runs, 14 doubles, and 10 stolen bases.
In 146 games at shortstop, 144 of those as the Phillies’ starter, Galvis had an RF/9 of 4.31 and a .973 fielding percentage, making 17 errors in 622 chances at the position.
Last month, the Phillies and Galvis agreed on a one-year contract worth $2 million dollars, more than the $1.9 million that he had made in his first three MLB seasons combined.
The reason that the Phils made the modestly talented Galvis a millionaire are simple: Crawford is close, but not quite ready for the big leagues.
Named the Phillies top prospect by the staff at TBOH earlier this month, Crawford turned 21-years old at about the same time Galvis was signed.
Crawford reached AA Reading last season, holding his own in 405 plate appearances at more than four years younger than the Eastern League average age.
What Crawford really needs now is full health and exposure to more experienced pitching at the AAA level.
So Galvis will begin the 2016 season as the Phillies starting shortstop. It will be, barring disaster with Crawford, the last time that he opens a season as the Phillies’ starter. He may not end the year in that starting role.
Galvis will not block Crawford, whose only timetable is based on his own development.
If Crawford comes out guns a-blazing with the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, plays strong defense, produces on offense, and demonstrates emotional maturity over the first few months, he could ascend to Philadelphia sooner rather than later.
The prospect, in Clearwater now for his first spring training with the Phillies, certainly does not lack confidence:
“Once you get on the field, everybody is the same and everybody is competing for a job,” Crawford said, per Andrew Astleford for Delaware Online. “You’ve just got to go out there and do what you do.“
If Crawford continues to do what he does, and Galvis continues to do what he does, then at some point in the 2016 season the kid will be the starting shortstop for the Philadelphia Phillies, hopefully beginning a long run similar to Rollins.
Meanwhile, Galvis would then return to the backup role. Whether this placeholder role ends in June or September or somewhere in between, it will indeed end.
It has to end, because the enormous talent of Crawford must be realized if the Phillies are going to return to contending status sooner rather than later.