With many of the team’s key players such as Howard, Utley, Halladay and Lee locked up to long term contracts, the core of the team will generally remain the same for a few more years. Some players have certainly changed over the years, Pat Burrell has become Raul Ibanez and Jayson Werth has become, well, somebody, but since 2007, five of the eight position players have remained the same.
Come 2012, another one of those five could be gone, and of course that’s Jimmy Rollins. By the time this season ends, he’ll have played over 11 seasons with the Phillies, his entire career. His plate approach, comments about the fans and hustle have been much debated, but his defense, power and leadership have not. The stretch from 2007-08 is probably the best two years of his career with over 40 home runs, nearly 90 steals and a .836 OPS in addition to winning an MVP, silver slugger, two gold gloves and of course a World Series.
Since then, he hasn’t been the same. His OPS is down to .714 from 2009-2011, he has fewer steals, and he’s been hitting for less power. He was hampered by injuries in 2010 and could only play 88 games, but at 32 years old and over 1500 games under his belt, the possibility certainly remains that he’s on the decline. 2011 has been a bit of a bounceback season for him though. He’s walking more than ever and seeing more pitches per plate appearance than he ever has, but his power remains at 2010 levels. So far, this season has been an improvement compared to 2009 and 2010, but will it continue? Either way, Ruben Amaro Jr. will have a tough choice to make. If not Rollins, where could the next shortstop come from?
In the organization
I’ll briefly touch on most of the players that have played at least one out at shortstop in the organization so far this season. Of course, most of these will never make the majors, and a lot certainly won’t be ready for 2012, but this will just show the organizational depth at the position.
Michael Martinez, MLB- A rule 5 pick from the Washington organization, Martinez made the club out of spring training, taking advantage of Chase Utley’s injury and a lack of infield depth in the organization. He’s pretty athletic and has the ability to play multiple positions, but at 28 years old and only 135 AB above the AA level prior to this season, he has little to no upside. He wasn’t a very good hitter in the minors, and he certainly hasn’t been with the Phillies so far. I expect he’ll be waived when Utley comes back and offered back to Washington.
Brian Bocock, AAA- After suffering a wrist injury in spring training, Bocock just recently returned to game action. It’s like he never missed any time as he was able to immediately continue his minor league career of not being able to hit. In 2008, thanks to an injury to Omar Vizquel, he was actually the Giants’ Opening Day shortstop for some reason. He plays very good defense, and even though shortstop is traditionally a defensive position, players with a minor league OPS barely over .600 don’t have major league careers very often. He’s on the 40 man roster for now, but it probably won’t be long until he’s replaced. I doubt he’ll be claimed on waivers again.
Kevin Frandsen, AAA- Frandsen has bounced around a few organizations in recent years, starting with San Francisco and making stops in Anaheim, Boston and San Diego before being acquired by the Phillies prior to the 2011 season. He’s always been a good minor league hitter, but in brief stints as a major league utility player, he’s never been able to stick, primarily at 2B and 3B. He was hitting well again with the Iron Pigs, but he was recently suspended 50 games under baseball’s PED policy.
Freddy Galvis, AA- Galvis is the best shortstop prospect in the system, but that’s not saying much. Right now, he’s probably still a long shot to be an every day starter, and it’s extremely unlikely that it could be as soon as 2012. So far, this is by far his best offensive season, but with a .674 OPS, he still needs to do a lot of development at the plate. Of course, defense is his game, and he’s probably one of the top three defensive shortstops in the minors. Out of all the players in the organization, he’s the one worth keeping an eye on. He’s never going to hit for any power and probably won’t walk much, but if he can at least hit singles consistently, he can possibly increase his ceiling from a glove-only utility player to potential every day player.
Fidel Hernandez, AA- Hernandez is another all glove player, and he’s destined to top out as a minor league utilityman. He became a staple in the Clearwater lineup, spending parts in four seasons with the Threshers. He’s not playing every day in Reading, and right now he’s setting career highs in all three slash stats, BA/OBP/SLG. Of course, that’s not saying much because his career OBP is under .300, and his career OPS is barely over .600. There really isn’t much to see here. At 25 years old, Hernandez just hasn’t made much progress in his career.
Troy Hanzawa, high-A- At 25 years old and still with Clearwater, Hanzawa is probably running out of time in the Phillies organization. This is his second year as the Threshers’ shortstop, and so far he’s hitting worse than last year, which is quite difficult to do. In fact, his OPS has gone down every season since the Phillies chose him in the 16th round of the 2008 draft. He’s a good defensive player, but he’s not quite as good as Galvis. Then again, not many are. His upside is limited.
Alan Schoenberger, high-A- Schoenberger’s pro debut in 2007 wasn’t anything to write home about. He played only six games, but he didn’t hit well and managed to make eight errors at shortstop. In 2008, he was back with the rookie league Phillies where he managed to only commit nine errors in 32 games, but he still didn’t hit. Fast forward to 2011, and after being perfectly average coming off the bench for Lakewood in 2010, he finds himself in a utility role with Clearwater. He’s settled in mainly at second base now.
Matt Payton, high-A- After not playing very well for the GCL Phillies last year, Payton remained in extended spring training until the beginning of May. Since then, he’s only played in three games for Clearwater.
Edgar Duran, low-A- He only has a .662 OPS with Lakewood, but that’s still over 100 points higher than his career high. Right now at the plate, he’s pretty much only a singles hitter with no patience and no power, so there’s a lot to work on before he’s on anyone’s radar. At 20 years old and in the South Atlantic League, the Phillies obviously see something in him. He hasn’t played a position besides shortstop since arriving in the US.
Carlos Perdomo, low-A- Perdomo is another young player for the low-A level but being used in a utility role means he probably doesn’t have much of a future. He’s more of a 2B/3B player, but he’s been able to fill in at SS throughout his career. He doesn’t walk at all, but he has nice bat control and doesn’t strike out either.
In the lower minors, there isn’t much to get excited about yet. Stephen Malcolm will probably be Williamsport’s shortstop. He was the team’s 8th round pick out of a junior college last year, and he’s another player that can field well but not hit yet. They also have a handful of recent Latin American signings including Nerio Rios who played for the GCL Phillies last year, and Anderson Gonzalez who they signed in August last season.
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