During the long winter of their discontent, not many pundits envisioned Freddy Galvis in a Philadelphia Phillies uniform, let alone as the starting second baseman.
After all, finished 2011 in what was considered reasonably good health and for the most part, played nearly every day from mid-season throughout the playoffs. However, Utley reported to Clearwater and immediately announced that his knees were once more aching. Enter Galvis, a natural shortstop who was called upon to replace Utley.
Since Galvis was signed as an amateur free agent at the age of sixteen in 2006, there has never been a doubt about his defensive wizardry. Blessed with excellent speed, enormous range and an accurate arm, Galvis was major league caliber with the glove as soon as he donned a professional uniform.
But Galvis struggled at the plate early in his career, hitting just .203 with Williamsport in 2007, .238 in Lakewood in 2008, .240 in 2009 splitting his year between the Gulf Coast Phillies and Reading and .233 during a full year in Reading in 2010.
In 2011, the maturing Galvis began the year at Reading, and improved to .273 with 35 RBI in 104 games. Moved up to Triple A Lehigh Valley, he hit .298 in 33 games for the Iron Pigs. His improved hitting and his outstanding defensive prowess earned him the prestigious “Paul Owens Award,” as the best position player in the Phillies organization.
Galvis made his major league debut on April 5 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh and had a rough day at the plate. He went 0-4, grounded into double plays in his initial two big league at bats and also struck out. However, he handled six chances flawlessly as the offensively challenged Phillies defeated the Pirates 1-0 behind a combined two-hit shutout by Roy Halladay and new closer, Jonathan Papelbon.
In fact, Freddy would go 0-12 before collecting his first major league hit on April 9 at Citizens Bank Park. The hit, a two run double off of Anibal Sanchez, was a liner to right field which scored the only two runs in a 6-2 loss to the Miami Marlins in the Phillies home opener. The following evening saw Galvis come to the plate in the bottom of the third inning against Josh Johnson, the ace of the Marlins. With the bases loaded and two out, and with the Phillies up 3-1, the crowd serenaded their new hero with chants of “Freddy, Freddy, Freddy.” And Galvis did not disappoint, lining a two run double to right field in a 7-1 victory.
Freddy’s acrobatic stops, enormous range and hustle, have made him an instant favorite with the denizens of South Philly.
The 5’10” 170 lb. infielder is the latest in a long line of great Venezuelan shortstops, which began with Chico Carrasquel in the 1950s, Hall of Famer Luis Aparicio, Dave Concepcion and Omar Vizquel. If and when Utley returns to the Phillies lineup, Galvis can provide depth at both second base and shortstop for the Phillies.
Manager Charlie Manuel is already a huge fan of the young rookie. “He has a solid baseball foundation and he’s getting stronger. I love his demeanor out there.”