Name: Jonathan Galvez
DOB: January 18, 1991
Signed as an international free agent on July 2, 2007, Galvez – formerly known as Spraud – was ineligible to play that first season because he would not turn 17 by the end of the season.
"They have tons of pressure on them to succeed," roving hitting coordinator Tony Muser said. "When they come to the United States, I think if you put yourself in their shoes, it's a once in a lifetime chance. So there's a ton of emotion within them. With a kid that grew up in the United States and has a failure at-bat, it's probably three-fold in a Latin player. They just come from different parts of the world and their history is different. They know that maybe their opportunity is a little bit shorter than those that grew up in the States, and competed in the States, and were signed in the States. It's more of an emotional thing and they look at every at bat with more criticism by themselves."
Seventeen throughout all of 2008, Galvez played against competition that was sometimes four and five years his elder.
The shortstop got off to a torrid start, notching a .556 on-base percentage and .367 average over his first 20 games. The next 24, however, was a period of adjustment. The right-handed hitter batted just .153 but maintained a .327 on-base percentage. His final 10 games produced a .464 average and .595 on-base percentage.
For the season, Galvez hit .272 with a .449 on-base percentage. He drew 47 walks compared to 40 strikeouts, notched 31 runs scored and 31 RBI. Nine of his 44 hits went for extra bases, including three homers.
Galvez stole eight bases in nine attempts and hit .309 with runners on base and .364 with the bases loaded. He reached base multiple times in 27 of his 54 games with the DSL Padres.
The tale of two seasons came when Galvez changed his approach at the plate and tried to send every ball out of the yard. Instead of staying with his approach and hitting the ball where it was pitched, Galvez was gearing up and maxing his swing out – often flailing wildly at the ball.
The result was 27 strikeouts in 85 at-bats during July. In June and August, Galvez fanned just 13 times.
Stateside in 2009, Galvez hit .295 across 52 games with the AZL Padres. He collected 25 extra-base hits, including six homers, scored 45 runs and drove in 27. He also notched a 30-to-44 walk-to-strikeout ratio for a .399 on-base percentage.
Like the previous season, Galvez struggled in the final month. He hit .247 during August, dropping his average from .333 on August 1. He also fanned 22 times, including seven times in his final 10 at-bats – as many as he has whiffed in the first two months.
Putting pressure on himself to perform, Galvez hit just .181 with runners in scoring position as opposed to his .349 mark with the bases empty. He changes his approach and becomes more aggressive – but not in a good way. Believing he has to be the one to drive in runs, Galvez swings at more pitches outside of the zone, forcing weak contact. With the bases empty, Galvez implores better strike zone judgment.
Offensively, he really made huge strides," former AZL Padres and current Lake Elsinore hitting coach Bob Skube said. "He was stellar for us all year. It was a desire within him. He doesn't like to fail. And hit for some pretty good power. The numbers don't show it but his slugging percentage and hard contacts were way up there."
"He's a ballplayer," former AZL Padres and current Fort Wayne manager Jose Flores said. "I think it's a maturity issue with him. And I think that, hopefully, after grilling him all year, because he was one of my guys that I was on all the time, hopefully, he understands how seriously he should be taking this because of the ability he has to hopefully do something in this game.
"He has a lot of pop for his size and if you look at him he's about 150-pounds wet. But the kid drives the ball. The kid hit the ball out of the yard just like anybody else. So, it's just a matter of him maturing, getting a little bigger, stronger, and definitely working on his mental side of the game. That's going to determine whether or not he can become a prospect earlier or later."
Galvez has a lithe frame that will get bigger and stronger as he matures. He is incredibly strong with solid hitting mechanics. His timing and rhythm are crisp, as he gets a solid load before his release.
As the pitcher is entering his delivery, Galvez' bat and hands are still. They rock back with his load to give him separation and offer a short path to the ball. His head barely moves from its original position throughout his swing. His swing has a slight loft but attacks the hitting zone.
Given his lack of moving parts, Galvez is consistently on the ball. As long as he is making quality choices in pitch selection, hard contacts follow. His 25 extra-base hits were fourth most in the league and his 97 total bases placed fifth. That would appear to be just the tip of the iceberg.
"He is filling out, maturing – the maturity from last year to this year has been very impressive," Padres director of player development and international scouting Randy Smith said. "(He and Liriano) have grown up tremendously.
"He is a real threat at the plate. (In one game) he smoked the ball to right center and short-hopped the wall at the track. He lined one up the middle for a hard hit single and then hit a line drive down the left field line. He did everything he was supposed to do offensively."
He has an advanced feel for the strike zone but suffers from mental lapses. His walk numbers should be relatively even with his strikeout as he continues to mature. Pitch selection is vital to his performance, as with most hitters. Since he knows his strike zone, he has an advantage. Sticking with that mantra, however, is paramount.
"It takes time for them to mature, it takes time for them to relax," Muser said. "I think patience on our part is imperative to watching their development, but Galvez – we've have three Latin Americans that really improved: Liriano, Edinson Rincon who went to short-season and just had a great year offensively, and Galvez is one of those three that for a little guy has showed some power.
"Identification of the breaking ball and strikes with fastballs are improving. Along with that success comes and following the success comes the confidence."
Defensively, Galvez has offered too much flash. He is always looking to make the great play or is eager to show off his arm when the out is all that matters.
"So much talent and ability this kid has," Flores said. "I think a lot of it has to do with style. He likes to look pretty but he should just get the job done, get it over with. He likes to take his time sometimes between balls to kind of show off his arm. But all of us know that he doesn't have a plus arm. I don't know what contributes to that, or where he gets it from, but a lot of errors were throwing errors because of him not realizing how fast the guy can get down the line or how much time he took to throw that ball.
"Out of 20 errors, I would say that maybe half - 15 - are probably throwing errors. Six or seven might have just been routine ground balls that I guess is lack of concentration. At this level, at this age for him, I thought that sometimes he would take his at-bats out to the field and that would in turn get him out of focus with his concentration and what he has to do on the defensive side."
Defensively is still a little immature in the field and does take some of his offensive at-bats on to the defensive end of the game," Skube said.
The Padres were, however, impressed with his improvements during their Instructional League and awarded him their Most Improved Player. The award was given to him solely based off his defensive achievements. He was sound defensively, looking to make the smart play. Instead of double-clutching on throws to make it close and gun the ball, Galvez was rapidly making his glove to hand exchange and making clean throws to first base.
His range is solid laterally, but he can get caught on in-between hops. He maneuvers well around the second base bag and turns the double play well. He has soft hands but will clutch the ball too long, taking extra steps before his release.
"I think he might be better suited for the other side of the bag than short," Smith said. "The development staff thinks he is making progress there. In my opinion, he still has funky throwing action.
"The defense will sort itself out. I am more interested in the progress than the results. Derek Jeter made 56 errors in the Midwest League and turned into a pretty decent shortstop. It is really just trying to see the progress and not getting caught up in the numbers. I am not convinced yet – but I am convinced he is going to be a pretty good hitter."
The infielder stole 14 bases in 20 attempts during 2009. He is a tick above average as a runner but is sound in attempting to steal in counts that favor a potential off-speed pitch. He has a good first-step but could improve on his ability to read a pitchers' move.
"One of the things we have always liked about him is that if he can gain some strength he could be a player," former Padres vice president of scouting and player development Grady Fuson said. "He has an advanced recognition at the plate and has the feet to stay at shortstop, but his arm is a bit inaccurate. This is his second full year, and I think he lost a little ground defensively this year, mainly by attempting to be a little too flashy in the field, but we worked on that. There is quite a bit of upside to this player."
Conclusion: Galvez is a player that must grow mentally. He is prone to bouts of ineffectiveness when his mind wanders. He can take a poor play defensively to the plate and vice versa. If he can overcome that – and experience and age should do wonders – Galvez can be an impact bat that does damage.
Talk about this story on our subscriber-only message boards
Join MadFriars.com on Twitter at http://twitter.com/madfriars