Dec 012011
Phillies SS prospect Freddy Galvis

Phillies SS prospect Freddy Galvis (photo: Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

After taking a week off to discuss the Cole Hamels situation, Prospect A-Z is back. Last week, I reviewed Aaron Altherr, Jesse Biddle, Brody Colvin, Justin De Fratus and Ervis Manzanillo. There’s a lot of potential in that group, and the upper and lower levels of the system were all well represented. This week will have several players with some upside that will ultimately be unattainable for some of them.

F- Maikel Franco, 3B, short-season, low-A

Franco was a big pop up guy in the organization this year, going from an unknown not in the team’s top 30 prospects to a top 10 player.  At 18 years old, he posted a solid season at the plate in the New York Penn League, batting .287 with a .367 OBP and .411 SLG.  For a brief time, he was promoted to Lakewood, but he struggled there and was sent back to Williamsport where he had a strong finish to the season.  The Phillies were able to sign Franco for only $100,000 because teams didn’t see him as a great athlete which is true.

Baseball America’s scouting report noted that even though Franco is listed at 6’1, 180, he seems bigger and doesn’t have very good speed.  That won’t prevent him from becoming a good player though.  He didn’t hit for much power in 2011, but he’s expected to develop some thanks to his great bat speed.  He needs to continue working on his plate approach, but his hand-eye coordination allowed him to put up satisfactory walk and strikeout rates.  His lack of athleticism won’t prohibit him from being a good defensive player, and he’ll report to Lakewood in 2012 as one of the league’s youngest players.

G- Freddy Galvis, SS, AA, AAA

Galvis’ shortcomings were well known coming into the 2011 season. He hadn’t posted an OPS over .600 in any full season, and even batting over .250 seemed out of reach. Even though he has one of the best gloves in the minors, players that are well below average hitters against minor league pitching still have a tough time sticking in the majors. Over the offseason, he added more strength through a new training regimen, and it paid off. He batted over .270 at Reading and slugged .400, huge improvements over previous seasons. He was able to finish the season at Lehigh Valley where he hit for a higher average in one month, but the power wasn’t there.

2012 is going to be a big season. With the Phillies’ future at shortstop still being unclear, Galvis has an opportunity to cease the position. He’ll need to prove his 2011 season wasn’t a fluke or a product of spending so much previous time at Reading. He’s always had good bat control, and his added strength allows him to hit the ball with much more authority. If he can post a league average OPS in the .720-.730 range, he can hit in the bottom of a major league lineup and play every day. If not, it’ll probably be best if he only becomes a utility player.

H- Anthony Hewitt, COF, low-A

There probably isn’t anything left to be said about Hewitt that hasn’t been said already.  Last offseason, the Phillies decided that he would no longer be treated as a first rounder; that is, his assignment would be handled like anyone else’s.  He would have to deserve being promoted, and after his 2010 season, he didn’t and ended up back at Lakewood.  He showed improvement in all of his rate stats and made great strides as a baserunner, but he showed nothing to make anyone think the light came on for him.  He’ll turn 23 a few weeks after the season starts, and he’ll probably be in Clearwater and not show any improvement.

He still shows some promising tools, but he’s running out of time for those to translate into production.  He has the power and speed combination that every team covets, but in his first four seasons as a professional, his pitch recognition and plate approach haven’t improved at all.  As a corner outfielder, he needs to hit well because it’s far down on the defensive spectrum.  He was far too clumsy to remain at third base where the Phillies originally played him.

I- Steven Inch, RHP, rookie

It’s a bit difficult to write about Inch because he’s only thrown 25.2 innings in three seasons since signing with the Phillies for $300,000 in 2009.  After just a handful of innings in his debut season he went down with an injury and didn’t pitch in 2010.  He didn’t return to the mound immediately in 2011 either, but he eventually did pitch for the GCL affiliate.  He struggled in 23.2 innings which is understandable coming off a major injury.

At the time of the draft, Inch only threw in the mid 80’s, but his 6’4, 190 pound frame led scouts to believe he would eventually develop the requisite fastball velocity to compete as a professional.  He had a good feel for a curveball and excelled in the mental side of pitching, not often seen in high school pitchers.  He’ll need to develop his velocity and a third pitch to advance through the system.  He’ll be 21 next season, and he’s yet to pitch above the rookie league.  2012 is a key season since he’ll be completely healthy for the first time since he first started his pro career.

J- Jiwan James, CF, high-A

James had a 2011 season remarkably similar to his 2010 season with Lakewood.  His batting average and slugging were both just two points down, but his OBP increased by six points.  The league averages for both years were quite similar as well.  Normally, a lack of progress like James showed would be concerning, but it can be downplayed a bit because of his odd career path.  He was signed as a pitcher, but a forearm injury caused the Phillies to move him to centerfield.  He’s eligible for the rule 5 draft this offseason, but because he’s so raw, it’s unlikely he’s taken and even more unlikely that he’s able to stick on a major league roster.

He’s an incredible athlete and a natural in the outfield.  He has great speed to run down balls in center, and his arm is good enough out there.  At the plate, he’s generally able to make good contact, but he has a bad plate approach that leads to a lot of strikeouts and not many walks.  He won’t be much of a power hitter, but his speed will allow him to get extra base hits.  His stolen base percentage really has to improve, but he should be able to develop better baserunning as he gets more experienced.

Next week, Prospect A-Z will cover four pitchers: the team’s #1 prospect, possibly the only person in the world named Lisalberto, a lefty from Alabama who got off to a nice start in the minors, a former college pitcher recovering from Tommy John and one hitter, a first baseman coming off an AFL stint.

If you haven’t already make sure you check out the rest of Phillies Prospects A-Z:  Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3 / Part 4 / Part 5

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Scott Grauer writes for PSC and Bus Leagues Baseball – check him out!  Scott also regularly updates the PSC Minor League Thread with player stats, game results, and more…