The Phillies’ battery of the future will begin 2012 as part of a deep Double-A Reading squad that features three of Philadelphia’s top five prospects and nearly a third of the organization’s Top 30. Righthander Trevor May (the Phillies No. 1 prospect) and catcher Sebastian Valle (No. 3) will team up again after spending 2011 in high Class A Clearwater. They’ll reunite with several members of last year’s Threshers squad, including righthanders Jonathan Pettibone (No. 4) and Julio Rodriguez (No. 17), second baseman Cesar Hernandez (No. 14) and outfielders Leandro Castro (No. 24) and Jiwan James (No. 9).
Leap Of Faith
Talk about your leaps. Freddy Galvis will make his big league debut as Philadelphia’s starting second baseman—a position he has played only in winter ball as a professional—after just 33 Triple-A appearances last season. The injury to Chase Utley, and the Phillies’ lack of infield depth, led to Galvis’ rushed promotion and position change. The Phillies feel he has the defensive chops to handle second base, however the career .246 hitter may find big league pitching a bit more challenging.
Where Is That Guy?
Harold Garcia opens the season on the disabled list after spending most of last year on it. Garcia, who in 2010 broke a 59-year-old Florida State League record by hitting in 37 consecutive games for high Class A Clearwater, is expected to be sidelined four-to-six months after undergoing microfracture surgery on his right knee in early March. The 25-year-old missed all but 12 games last year after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in that same right knee while playing for Reading. Another notable top prospect left off a roster this spring is righthanded reliever Justin De Fratus, who finished last season in the big leagues but begins this year on the DL after suffering right elbow sprain in spring training. ?
Time Is Running Out
J.C. Ramirez may soon become as familiar a face in Reading as that Crazy Hot Dog Vendor. The 23-year-old righthander returns to Double-A for a third straight season since coming to the Phillies from the Mariners as part of the December 2009 Cliff Lee deal. He split 2010 between Reading and Clearwater before spending all of last season with the R-Phils, going 11-15, 4.50 in 26 starts. He still has time to make it to Philadelphia but needs to develop a secondary pitch to go with his 92-94 mph fastball.