It was the worst of times and the best of times for those of us who follow the Phillies farm system on Monday. We learned that one of the all time great Phillies Chase Utley’s career may be in serious jeopardy with his knee problems. At the same up from the minor league system Freddy Galvis looks like Chase’s heir apparent although he never played second base until a few weeks ago. Jake Diekman continues each outing to prove that he belong in the major leagues by pitching a scoreless inning to get a hold today. And Joe Savery pitched two scoreless innings to pick up the win over the Tigers.
Galvis, Diekman and Savery all have something in common. They played for the 2007 Williamsport Crosscutters. Back in early August of that year Betsy and I made a trip to Bowman Field to watch the debut of the Phillies first round draft pick that year, Joe Savery. Freddy Galvis was injured at the time and did not play. After the game we went on to New Jersey to tour the Yogi Berra Museum and take a special bus trip to the Bronx sponsored by the museum to the old Yankee Stadium just before they were to tear it down to make way for the new Stadium which was under construction at the time.
That 20o7 Crosscutter’s team in the NY-Penn league was loaded with major league talent. Already five player off that roster have played in the major leagues, Domonic Brown, Michael Taylor, Sergio Escalona, Brian Schlitter and late last year Joe Savery. Soon Freddy Galvis and maybe Jake Diekman will join them as players off that roster who will have played in the major leagues to bring the total to seven. Seven players still remain in the Phillies system at various levels who were also on that roster ( Mitchell, Kennelly, Myers, Rizzotti, Brummett, Kissock and Naylor) . I will never forget Michael Taylor who was later traded in the Joe Blanton deal telling a reporter at the time that he predicted six on that roster were major league prospects. As we have written about in previous blogs after signing a professional baseball contract it is very difficult for minor league players to ever make it to the major leagues for even one game. The potential exists for as many as 14 players off that Williamsport roster making it to the show some day. That would be an unprecedented number.
Because of other commitments we did not make it to Bright House on Monday. I toiled away trying to make a living analyzing polling data but did have the ESPN Phillies-Tigers game on TV in the background. There was Freddy Galvis pulling a pitch on the outside part of the plate to the right field gap for a triple to drive in two runs to tie the game. Then he scored the winning run on a tag up of a Jimmy Rollins line drive sacrifice fly. Galvis, who has a tremendous feel for the game, drew praise from analyst Orel Hershiser for how he read the line drive and still was able to get back to the bag and tag up for what turn out to be the winning run. I was so immersed in polling data I did not watch Savery second inning of relief or Diekman’s inning in the eight but these two guys have yet to give up a run this spring and are racking up the strike outs. And Diekman is doing by changing his release point two years ago from a overhand to a three quarter side arm delivery.
Utley may be down. His career in jeopardy but the farm system is developing players ready to fill the breach even if they did not plan on it in the Front Office. I always wondered why Freddy was never given some innings at third or second before this spring training and I am still wondering why Joe Savery was playing left field, first base and filling the designated hitter spot at different times in games last season until the beginning of August. One of the spring training high lights this year was watching Galvis take ground balls at third and practicing turning the double play on the half field in front of Bright House one early March morning. Last year we watched Joe Savery play every position a lefthanded thrower could play except pitch in the first half of last season.
I guess it’s better to be lucky than good but we will take both when it comes to player development. Will a player or two come out of nowhere this season and go from high A, to AA, to AAA to the majors like Savery or be in line to start a major league game at a position he never played before in the minors? Of course cause anything can happen. It’s really up to the players themselves to reach down for something extra to really want to go the Show. Freddy Galvis, Joe Savery and Jake Diekman are showing them right now it can be done as they take unorthodox paths least traveled to get there..