Freddy Galvis with the Philadelphia Phillies in 2015
|Philadelphia Phillies – No. 13|
|Shortstop / Second baseman|
November 14, 1989 |
Punto Fijo, Falcón, Venezuela
|April 5, 2012, for the Philadelphia Phillies|
(through May 12, 2016)
|Runs batted in||122|
Freddy Jose Galvis (born November 14, 1989) is a Venezuelan Major League Baseball shortstop for the Philadelphia Phillies. Galvis was born in Punto Fijo, Falcón, Venezuela, and played Little League Baseball including the Little League World Series there before being discovered by one of the Phillies' scouts in the area. At age 16, he signed a contract with the Phillies despite not receiving much attention from scouts; he went on to spend the next several years in their minor league system, including a particularly lengthy stint with the Reading Phillies, the Phillies' Double-A (AA) affiliate. In 2012, he made his major league debut on opening day at second base, substituting for the injured Chase Utley. He became a fan favorite for his performance early in the season, especially on defense, until he sustained an injury, and subsequently was suspended 50 games after a positive test for performance-enhancing drugs. He missed the remainder of the season. Over the course of the next two seasons, he split time between the Lehigh Valley IronPigs – the Phillies' Triple-A affiliate – and the major league ball club, but struggled to establish himself offensively. Entering 2015, his future with the club was uncertain, although with the departure of Jimmy Rollins, he was a candidate to be the team's starting shortstop.
Galvis is an outstanding defensive shortstop, capable of making acrobatic plays and utilizing a strong throwing arm. Conversely, he has struggled to establish himself as an effective offensive player, having consistently posted batting averages below .250 at the major league level, which hinders the team's ability to utilize him regularly. He aspires to emulate fellow Venezuelan Omar Vizquel, his role model.
Galvis was born November 14, 1989, in Punto Fijo, Falcón, Venezuela, and at age 14, the Philadelphia Phillies began to scout him during his days playing youth baseball. He participated on Latin America's team in the Little League World Series, but due to his slight stature (5 feet 10 inches (1.78 m) 154 pounds (70 kg)), struggled to captivate scouts' attention. Galvis said, "They told me that I couldn't play (pro) baseball. But I knew I had the ability." In 2006, scouts Sal Agostinelli and Jesus Mendez signed him during the amateur player signing period; Galvis, 16 years old, was not a particularly heralded prospect, but did receive some attention from scouting experts before signing with the Phillies.
Minor league career
Galvis participated in the Florida Instructional League in 2006. The next season, he officially began affiliated baseball in 2007 with the Williamsport Crosscutters at age 17, as one of just five players not born in the United States. He made an impression with Phillies' personnel due to outstanding defensive skills that drew comparisons to those of Baseball Hall of Famer Omar Vizquel, and also demonstrated solid instincts while baserunning, despite struggling to get on base. Concurrently, he hit .203 with nine stolen bases in 38 games. In 2008, with the Lakewood Blue Claws in the South Atlantic League, Galvis hit .238 with 14 stolen bases in 127 games. He had a particularly strong May, during which he hit .313 with 14 RBIs in May. He also earned placement on the league's postseason all-star team. He began 2009 with the Clearwater Threshers in Class A-Advanced, and was the Phillies minor league player of the week after he hit .417 from April 20 to 26. The following May, he fractured his right ring finger, and spent more than two months on the disabled list. Thereafter, he spent seven games with the GCL Phillies before finishing the season at Double-A, where he hit just .197.
Galvis returned to Reading for his 2010 season after earning an invitation to the Phillies' major league spring training. He led all shortstops in the Eastern League in fielding percentage, assists, putouts, and total chances. He was named an Eastern League all-star. After the season, he played for Navegantes del Magallanes in the Venezuelan Winter League. Entering 2011, he was "was considered major-league-ready defensively but a major liability offensively." But in 2011, at age 21, Galvis had the best season of his career to date. Always known as an excellent defender, but mediocre hitter, he was finally able to improve at the plate, thanks in part to a much more rigorous off-season conditioning regimen, and also due to hitting higher in the batting order, where he was thus challenged to make greater offensive contributions by utilizing a more aggressive approach. He also improved his arm strength to the point that at least defensively, coaches and front office personnel felt he was ready to be a major league shortstop. Starting the year in Double-A (AA) with the Reading Phillies, Galvis hit .273, with 35 RBIs, in 464 plate appearances across 104 games. In August, Galvis was promoted to the Triple-A (AAA) Lehigh Valley IronPigs, with whom he hit .321 with nine multi-hit games and 13 runs scored in his first 23 games. He hit in the leadoff spot with Lehigh Valley as well. Overall with Lehigh Valley, he hit .298, with eight RBIs in 126 plate appearances during 33 games. Between AA and AAA, he combined to hit .278 with eight home runs, 43 RBIs, 78 runs, and 23 stolen bases in 137 games. His excellent numbers were enough to earn the 2011 Paul Owens Award, which is given to the best position player and pitcher, respectively, in the Philadelphia Phillies minor league system. At the end of the 2011 season, Galvis was sent to the Venezuelan Winter League, and despite a brief ganglion cyst injury, played there until December 1.
Major league career
Galvis was disappointed to learn that that Phillies' shortstop Jimmy Rollins had re-signed with the Phillies during offseason preceding 2012, as Galvis had hoped to replace him. He said that he allowed himself to pout for two hours, and then moved on. With Rollins re-signing with the Phillies, Galvis thought he was headed back to the minor leagues. He entered spring training as the "one of the most intriguing story lines" for the Phillies, and led the team in several statistical categories, but still presumed to open the season in AAA. However, on March 19, 2012, Phillies general manager Rubén Amaro, Jr. announced that Chase Utley would miss the beginning of the season due to a knee injury, and Galvis would be the opening day starter there.
Galvis became the first Phillies' player to make his major league debut on opening day in 42 years when he did so on April 5. In his debut, he hit into two double plays. Galvis recorded his first major league hit in his fourth career game on April 9, a two-run double off of Miami Marlins pitcher Aníbal Sánchez. Four days later, he hit his first major league home run off of R.A. Dickey in a game against the New York Mets. After spending two months as the Phillies' starting second baseman, Galvis injured his back on June 8; the injury was initially thought to be a lower back strain, but eventually diagnosed as a Pars fracture in his back. He was placed on the disabled list shortly thereafter. By that time, he had "won the hearts of fans and earned the confidence of his manager ... with dazzling defense." While on the disabled list, Galvis tested positive for having a metabolite of Clostebol in his system, a violation of Major League Baseball's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. Galvis denied any wrongdoing, commenting, "I cannot understand how even this tiny particle of a banned substance got into my body. I have not and never would knowingly use anything illegal to enhance my performance." He did not play for the remainder of the Phillies' 2012 season.
There was considerable debate as to whether Galvis should open the 2013 season working on his hitting in AAA, or on the bench of the major league Phillies. Manager Charlie Manuel preferred the latter, commenting that even in 300 major league at bats splitting time between second base, shortstop, and third base, Galvis could make a greater contribution than in a season in the minor leagues. Ultimately, he did make the opening day roster, but struggled through the first third of the season, and was optioned to AAA on June 27. Correspondingly, the Phillies acquired veteran infielder John McDonald. He performed better in AAA, including a 40-game streak during which he did not commit any errors, and a leadoff home run on the Fourth of July. He returned to the major league Phillies as a September callup, and on September 7, 2013, he compiled four hits including a game-winning home run against the Atlanta Braves. Overall, 19 at second base, 14 at third base, 10 in left field, and six at shortstop comprised his 49 total major league starts. At the major league level, he hit .234 with six home runs and 19 RBIs, and in AAA, he hit .245 with three home runs and 25 RBIs.
Galvis opened the 2014 season with a health scare. During spring training, Galvis contracted a methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus infection (more commonly known as MRSA), ostensibly from the Phillies' clubhouse at Bright House Field in Clearwater, Florida. "The team's most versatile and best defensive player", Galvis returned to the major league club on April 11. After he struggled early in the season, the Phillies optioned him to AAA on May 9 in favor of Reid Brignac. Two days later, he broke his clavicle, and spent two months on the disabled list. After a rehabilitation assignment, he performed well at AAA, and earned a call-up to the major leagues, replacing Brignac, whom the Phillies designated for assignment. Overall, Galvis posted his worst offensive season thus far; he hit .176 at the major league level with four home runs and 12 RBIs. After the season, Michael Baumann of Crashburn Alley wrote, "After two years of medical and developmental setbacks, Galvis is still only entering his age-25 season, so it's possible the bat develops from bad to below-average and Galvis turns into something. I wouldn’t count on it, but it's still within the realm of possibility."
When the Phillies traded Rollins to the Los Angeles Dodgers prior to the 2015 season, media reports speculated that Galvis and César Hernández were the presumptive nominees to start at shortstop for the upcoming season, likely seeking to bridge the gap between Rollins and J.P. Crawford, the top prospect in the Phillies' organization.
Galvis is a slap hitter who, throughout his major league career, has struggled to assert himself as a competent offensive player. Generally, he seeks to drive the ball in the center of the field, and has shortened his stroke. He has very little ability as a power hitter, but he has hit several home runs in key situations throughout his career, an anomaly that confounded Baumann, who noted that Galvis's inability "to force his way into the lineup by this point has probably scuttled any chance Galvis has of being the Phillies’ starting shortstop of the future." Despite his offensive struggles, Phillies staff and media have long recognized Galvis's strong defensive skills, noting his propensity to make acrobatic and athletic plays, as well as utilize a strong throwing arm. He aspires to emulate Omar Vizquel, his role model. Sam Donellon, a columnist for The Philadelphia Inquirer, noted that "there are similarities between Galvis and his idol. Both were signed at 16, both are switch-hitters, both struggled to hit pitching at any level in their early minor league seasons." Cognizant that he is a smaller player, Galvis has spent significant time working to improve his physical strength and conditioning in the offseasons.
Galvis struggled off the field after his injury in 2012, noting that he only emerged from the covers of his bed to answer the door for takeout food, namely Chinese food, pizza, and cheesesteaks. Since then, he has started a daily therapeutic routine aimed at preventing future injuries, to which he is apparently susceptible after his first back injury. His hobbies include relaxing at the beach and playing basketball. Galvis married his wife, Anna, in 2013, and is the father of a girl named Anastasia.
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