At 65-82, the Phillies’ season may not stand out as a as one that many fans would consider a significant step forward. That Philadelphia is in the midst of a significant rebuild was a widely known fact entering the year, and few expected a major improvement in the standings this season. However, Phillies general manager Matt Klentak, hired to that post just last year, spoke to reporters (including Ryan Lawrence of PhillyVoice.com) before yesterday’s game to explain that the organization feels that there was plenty of progress made in 2016.
Among the players to draw praise from Klentak were catcher Cameron Rupp, first baseman Tommy Joseph, second baseman Cesar Hernandez and shortstop Freddy Galvis. While Klentak acknowledged that players like Galvis and Joseph (and really, most of the team) need to continue to work on developing their approach at the plate in order to work counts and boost on-base percentage at an individual and at a team level, he also noted the unexpected pop from each player — Joseph due to his status as a non-roster player entering the season and Galvis due to a lack of track record of power — has been a boon for the Phillies.
“Really for any position, but especially for a shortstop, to be approaching 20 homers in a season is pretty impressive,” said Klentak shortly after praising Galvis as “one of the most reliable, dependable shortstops in the league” from a defensive standpoint. While he didn’t directly state the fact, Klentak suggested that he’s cognizant of the fact that Galvis has never walked much and may never do so, explaining that lineups can contain such players as long as it’s not a trait from top to bottom. “The answer to that question may depend on what the rest of the lineup is doing,” the GM responded when asked if Galvis’ defense and power outweighed his .270 OBP.
Galvis’ future standing with the club, of course, has a direct impact on the team’s plans for top prospect J.P. Crawford — the former No. 16 overall draft pick that has risen to become one of the game’s consensus top 10 prospects. While Crawford is viewed as a potential franchise cornerstone at the position, Klentak didn’t shy away from stating that Galvis performed well enough in 2016 that, “Right now … he’s our shortstop.”
The first-year GM pointed to the fact that Crawford still has work to do to develop in the minors, even though he impressed as one of the youngest players at both the Double-A level and Triple-A level in 2016. “Even a 21-year-old at Double-A but certainly Triple-A is aggressive,” said Klentak. “I think he’s proven at both levels that he still has the ability to control the strike zone as well as anybody in our organization and probably the best in Minor League Baseball. I think his defense has taken a step forward. He’s still 21 years old. He still needs to get stronger. He still has some things he needs to work on.”