From The Booth: Steve Degler

In a new series, Philly Baseball News is sitting down with minor league broadcasters to get their input on Phillies prospects. We're starting with Steve Degler, who sees both Lehigh Valley and Reading as part of his duties with Service Electric TV. In part one of our discussion, Degler talks about a number of top prospects.

Was Matt Rizzotti ready to come up to AAA?

Yeah, I think he was ready to come up here [Lehigh Valley]. He came out of the blue. When you think about it, you didn't find him on a prospect list anywhere at the beginning of the season. He had a good start at Clearwater and they got him out of there quickly and moved him to Double-A and he just kept on hitting. He's been hitting the ball, he's been drawing walks, driving in runs. Admittedly, it's a curious move to send him here [Lehigh Valley] right now, with Andy Tracy here and a lot of National League games left, but at the same time, if you think you can push him along and you want to see what he can do at the Triple-A level, then you have to keep moving him.

Rizzotti hit from day one at Reading, which doesn't always happen:

This season has really been like one big stretch for him when you look at his numbers. To be among the top five in all of minor league baseball in batting average; that's saying something. He has had an unbelievable season. He's had more power and more RBIs than he had last year, so it's really been a situation where he's forced his way out of both Clearwater and Reading and as a player, that's what you want to do - make them move you.

Last year, Vance Worley struggled late in the year, but this year, he has been phenomenal. What are your thoughts on him?

I don't think that Vance would readily admit it, but he wasn't 100% healthy last year at Reading. He had a knee injury and it affected him on the mound and between starts. When your lower-half is not feeling well, you can't do your conditioning, you can't get your running in and now, he can do all of that stuff. That's not to say that he was out of shape last season, it was just a matter of circumstances. His fastball is better, his command is better. I saw one of those last starts that he had at Reading - the complete game shutout - he was dominant and retired 18 in a row at one point. They had no chance that night. He was another one; he forced his way out. He had moved quickly, for an '08 draftee to be in Double-A last year and then repeat this year, but pitch your way out of there, is really good.

Freddie Galvis is an interesting player. How do you see him fitting in down the road?

First, you've got to keep in mind that he's only 20, and that's tough, because he had a lot of time in Reading last year already, as a 19 year-old. So, he's back this year, he's played every single game and every single inning this year. His defense is really good. His arm is probably not the greatest for a shortstop, but it's certainly not bad. He gets to a lot of balls. He's made a couple of adjustments offensively; one was getting contacts this spring, which certainly has helped. Number two, he's lowered his hands dramatically from both sides of the plate. They were way above his head last year and he brought the hands down. He's not hitting .300 or even close to it, but since those adjustments were made, he's done a really nice job. I think he's a really solid player. Even if he goes back to Reading next year to start, I don't think you look at that as a downside, because he'll only be 21 and playing at Double-A, but he has to move out of there sometime next year and get to Lehigh Valley.

Have you seen enough of Harold Garcia to develop an opinion on him?

I've seen him play maybe five or six games. I've really only seen him bat left-handed and I like what I see, he's got a really good approach; he has a pretty good idea what he's doing up there and it appears that he could be a really good number two hitter, because he can pull the ball in the hole with a runner on base and I've seen him drop a couple of really good bunts. He has a really good idea of how to play the game offensively. I haven't seen a whole lot of him at second base, because he just hasn't had a lot of balls hit to him. He did make one error going up the middle the other week, but it was a really tough play. From an offensive standpoint, I can easily see why he hit in 37 straight games [at Clearwater]. He gets good pitches to hit, works the count and can use the whole field. I think he's a guy who next year, if he starts in Reading he could have a really big year with the bat.

Michael Schwimer and Michael Stutes are two young relievers who are at Lehigh Valley and they've both gone through the system pretty quickly.

There are some really good arms in the bullpens at both Reading and Lehigh Valley. Schwimer is a big guy, an imposing figure out there. He didn't throw as hard in April, in the colder weather, but once the weather started to get warm, his velocity started to get up there and he was throwing in the low-90s on a regular basis and he goes after hitters; I like his approach. Stutes, making the conversion [from a starter to a reliever], I think is a big step for him and it's going to allow him to move faster. I liked him a little bit as a starter, but now he can concentrate on just a couple of pitches. He can work fastball, slider and throw an occasional change-up to a left-hander. His velocity will get a little bit better and you hope his slider remains very sharp. It's a move the Phillies decided to make in spring training and hopefully, Michael wants to do that, because you can still make a lot of money pitching as a reliever in the big leagues and he's got a great arm and he's a guy that will certainly be on the Phillies radar for the next couple of years.



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