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Rafael Marchan Finds A Supporter In Joe Girardi

For Phillies manager Joe Girardi, it was love at first sight.

Rafael Marchan came over from minor league camp to help out with the catching duties a few times in spring training. Girardi quickly became smitten with the 5-foot-9, 170-pound Venezuelan’s defense and smarts behind the plate.

Marchan, a 2015 international signing for $200,000, is now part of the Phillies' 60-man player pool, working out daily at the satellite camp in Lehigh Valley.

The Phillies’ catching situation could be in flux this winter if J.T. Realmuto moves on in free agency. Marchan turned 21 in February and has never played above high Class A. There are questions about his bat and his power, in particular.

But down the road, with a little more experience, a little more physical strength and some improvement with the bat, Marchan could be a big leaguer.

“The kid does a lot of things right,” said Girardi, who caught for 15 seasons in the majors. “He’s a master blocker.”

Marchan, a switch-hitter, was a shortstop until he started working out as a catcher in 2015. He hit .261 in 314 at-bats between both Class A levels in 2019. He has yet to hit a homer in pro ball, but that doesn’t concern Girardi.

“He doesn’t have to show power,” Girardi said. “He just has to hit, be an adequate hitter—or he could become a really good hitter. He needs to take his walks, handle the bat. Defensively, he’s going to save you runs by catching. Those are RBIs for me."

Marchan went unselected in last year’s Rule 5 draft, not surprising given his age, experience level and still-developing bat. If Girardi has anything to do with it, Marchan will be protected this winter. The manager thinks Marchan can develop into a big leaguer, much like another converted infielder once did with the Phillies.

“I’m not comparing here, but Carlos Ruiz was not a great hitter when he first came up,” Girardi said. “He’s got talent, and you hope he figures out the bat part of it because if he does, you have something really special.”

—Outfielder Mickey Moniak, the No. 1 overall pick in 2016, is not part of the Phillies 60-man pool. He suffered an undisclosed minor knee injury at home and is rehabilitating at the team’s facility in Clearwater, Fla.

—Shortstop Bryson Stott, the team’s top pick in the 2019 draft out of Nevada-Las Vegas, was a late add to the 60-man pool.

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