The Phillies finalized their 40-man roster on Friday with players who would have been eligible for the Rule 5 draft, including a trio of middle infielders considered the best up-the-middle defenders in the system.
Second basemen Cesar Hernandez and Harold Garcia, along with shortstop Freddy Galvis, were shielded from exposure to next month's Rule 5 Draft. Meanwhile, reliever Justin De Fratus, a right-hander who some believe has a chance to contribute with the Phillies this season, and thumping first baseman Matt Rizzotti were also protected. Former first-round pick Joe Savery, who is trying to reinvent himself as a first baseman after flopping as both a starter and reliever in Triple-A, was the most notable player left exposed. All five of the new additions are playing or played winter ball.
Beerleaguer: Hernandez, the player you've heard about least, may be the player you need to know most. Still 20, the young switch-hitter more than held his own against New York-Penn League pitching, hitting .325/.390/.392 with 32 stolen bases with Williamsport. Signed as a 16 year old shortstop and converted to second, he keeps getting better and better. His defensive skills also reportedly earn high marks. Garcia, an older switch hitter who has been compared internally to Mark McLemore, set a Florida State League record with a 37-game hitting streak this season. Then there's the Wizard of Galvis, who lead Double-A Eastern League shortstops with a .982 fielding percentage, but still can't hit. He's young at 21, but a .586 OPS at Double-A leaves a lot to be desired. His time may run out if he can't improve this season. All three are staying sharp in Venezuela. As for Rizzotti, his path to majors will be eternally blocked by Ryan Howard, so despite a Phillies-best .343/.430/.555 across three levels of the minors last season, the 6-5 slugger should only be seen as trade bait. He continued his hot hitting this fall, batting .333 with Mesa. De Fratus, 23, pitched seven scoreless innings and struck out 11 in Arizona. He's legit.