TAMPA, Fla. -- There had been some thought as late as December that Freddy Galvis could be the Phillies shortstop in 2012.
If the Phillies could not sign Jimmy Rollins to a new contract, the team had talked about trading Placido Polanco, signing Aramis Ramirez and having the 22-year-old shortstop from Venezuela handle the position in the Major Leagues. But the Phillies and Rollins finally agreed to a three-year, $33 million contract extension in mid-December, which left Galvis ticketed to open this season as the Triple-A Lehigh Valley shortstop.
"It was all right -- it was something you could see coming," Galvis -- the Phillies' eighth-best prospect according to MLB.com -- said before going 2-for-4 with an RBI in Sunday's Grapefruit League game against the Yankees at George M. Steinbrenner Field. "He's a really big guy for this organization. It's okay."
But Galvis' path to the big leagues appears blocked with Rollins signed through 2014 with a 2015 option that automatically vests if Rollins has 600 plate appearances in 2014, or 1,100 plate appearances in 2013-14 and he finishes the season healthy.
"We didn't forget about Freddy Galvis," Phillies assistant general manager Benny Looper said. "We like him a lot. He's got great instincts to play, and he's got a lot of good things going for him. You start thinking about how he can be of value to us at the Major League level. I don't know whether it's immediately, but it's pretty soon."
How can Galvis help?
The Phillies have started to work Galvis at second base and third base, making him a potential option as a utility infielder. It is unclear if Galvis will play any games at those positions during the Grapefruit League schedule, and it is expected he plays most of his games with the IronPigs at shortstop. But versatility will only help his chances of a callup.
"I have to find the way to get there," Galvis said. "I want to play in the big leagues. If I have to play a different position, I play. It feels good so far."
"He does great," said Phillies first-base coach Sam Perlozzo, who also is the team's infield instructor. "Freddy's an athlete, so he can adapt anywhere. We're pretty much just introducing him to some stuff. But he's a shortstop as far as I know."
Galvis hit a combined .278 with 28 doubles, five triples, eight home runs, 43 RBIs and a .718 on-base-plus-slugging percentage with Double-A Reading and Lehigh Valley last season. It was the first time in his career he finished a season with an OPS better than .588.
"I put more weight and muscle on my body," said Galvis, who estimates he weighs about eight pounds heavier than he did last spring at 188 pounds. "I think that helped me a lot. I used to hit balls and sometimes they wouldn't get through [the infield]. But when you have more power, those ground balls can get through. Those line drives can get in the gap."
If Galvis continues to progress offensively and shows he can hold his own defensively at second and third, it would not be a surprise to find him in the big leagues before the end of the season.
Michael Martinez is the favorite to be the team's utility infielder to start the season because of his versatility, not only in the infield, but the outfield. But Martinez, who committed two errors at second base Sunday, also hit just .196 in 209 at-bats last year. Infielders Kevin Frandsen and Pete Orr can play shortstop, but Galvis and Martinez probably are the team's best two defensive shortstops after Rollins. If something should happen to Rollins long term, the Phillies could turn to Galvis, especially if they consider him a better option offensively than Martinez.
"If you talk to [Lehigh Valley manager Ryne Sandberg], he was a guy they liked to see at the plate when they had a guy in scoring position," Looper said of Galvis.
But right now Galvis is just taking ground balls after he finishes his regular daily work at shortstop. It will take time to get comfortable, but so far the reports are encouraging for a guy who played second or third base only once in his life.
"I was in Venezeulan winter ball last year," Galvis said. "I played one game at third because the shortstop was Elvis Andrus."
Galvis had to adjust for one day because of Andrus. He might have to adjust the next several seasons because of Rollins. As long as he makes the big leagues, he said Sunday he is willing to do it.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.