9/3/2013 7:01 P.M. ET
Phils name top Minor League award winners
By Todd Zolecki / MLB.com
PHILADELPHIA -- Everything about the Phillies these days is about the future. It is why Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley did not start Tuesday against the Nationals at Citizens Bank Park.
The Phillies want to give Cesar Hernandez and Freddy Galvis a look instead.
But on the afternoon the organization named third baseman Maikel Franco and right-hander Severino Gonzalez its 2013 Paul Owens Award winners as the Minor League Player and Pitcher of the Year, respectively, Phillies assistant general manager of player personnel Benny Looper discussed several topics.
First, Franco and Gonzalez.
Franco, 21, hit .320 with 36 doubles, 31 home runs and 103 RBIs in 134 games with Class A Clearwater and Double-A Reading. He led all Minor Leaguers with 308 total bases. He finished tied for second in the Minors in extra-base hits (70), ranked fourth in hits (173), tied for seventh in homers and tied for eighth in RBIs.
The Phillies recently started playing Franco at first base to give him another option at the big league level. Cody Asche looks like he could be the Opening Day third baseman next season. The Phillies hoped Franco would play in the Arizona Fall League, where he could play both positions, but his Winter Ball team in the Dominican declined the request.
"It's where we got more control, and then send him to winter ball," Looper said. "But it's fine. He's going to be playing."
Gonzalez, 20, went 7-5 with a 2.00 ERA in 25 games (14 starts) with Class A Lakewood, Clearwater and Reading. He struck out 119 in 103 2/3 innings this season.
"His fastball can go both ways," Looper said. "He cuts it and he sinks it. In a sense, he's trying to emulate Mariano [Rivera] and his cutter. He looks underdeveloped. He's going to get bigger and stronger. He can really pitch. He's fun to watch. He's real competitive on the mound. He doesn't mind throwing inside. He pitches like a veteran. He has three or four different pitches, throws them in any count. Throws a lot of strikes. He had a very good year last year in Venezuela and he just continued that this year. He pitched well wherever we've thrown him.
"He does need to get bigger and stronger. He needs to improve his changeup. He's got some things to work on. But he's got good command of more than one pitch. He does have a chance of moving up quicker than others, where it takes them a few years to figure out their command."
Severino started Monday in Double-A in place of left-hander Jesse Biddle, whom the organization decided to shut down.
Biddle went 5-14 with a 3.64 ERA in 27 starts this season.
"He's pitched enough," Looper said. "He came out of the last game coughing. … He started out great. He punched out 16 one game and he ended up with that whooping cough and he never came back. He showed flashes of it. The game the other night, he showed good stuff -- fastball, great angle, curveball, change. Didn't command the fastball the way he did early. It was not one extreme to the other, but he was performing well early. We think he'll be back there next year."
Rupp says it's 'dream come true' to be in Majors
PHILADELPHIA -- It has been quite a trip for Phillies catcher Cameron Rupp.
Rupp spent the entire 2012 season with Class A Clearwater, and entered this season behind Tommy Joseph and Sebastian Valle on the organizational depth chart. But he earned a promotion from Double-A Reading to Triple-A Lehigh Valley after Joseph suffered a concussion, and Rupp took advantage of the opportunity.
He joined the Phillies before Tuesday's game against the Nationals at Citizens Bank Park, one of six September callups from Triple-A. He is a candidate to be on the Phillies' bench next season as the backup catcher.
"It's the dream I've had since I could pick up a baseball," Rupp said. "It's a dream come true."
Rupp should get a chance to play this month, too.
"All of the guys are here to get a look," Phillies interim manager Ryne Sandberg said. "I was told he was one of the most improved players in the Minor Leagues. He really came a long way. Personally, I want to see where he's at, what he can do."
That is fine with Rupp.
"Obviously, I wanted to get here as fast as I could," he said. "But I just wanted to go out and take advantage of the opportunities I was given and come out and play every day."
Sandberg happy with Rollins' play
PHILADELPHIA -- Ryne Sandberg has spoken his mind about the improvements he wants to see from Jimmy Rollins.
Sandberg said Tuesday he has seen plenty.
"I've seen the base on balls, I've seen the working the counts," Sandberg said at Citizens Bank Park. "He's gotten on base with walks and he's applied his baserunning. I've also seen him with more balls being hit up the middle. I think he's had three to four opposite-field hits, from both sides of the plate. So I see him working on some things in the cage and applying those into the game. But he's also been a spark, a spark running the bases and with some key hits."
Rollins hit .239 (11-for-46) with five doubles, two RBIs and three stolen bases in 13 games prior to Tuesday night's contest against Washington, but he also had 12 walks to give him an impressive .397 on-base percentage.
Sandberg started Freddy Galvis at shortstop Tuesday. It was the fourth time in 17 games Rollins did not start.
Asked if playing somebody like Galvis could keep Rollins engaged, Sandberg said, "I've noticed Jimmy more engaged. I've noticed him being into it. Showing some excitement on the field. Some of these late-inning wins go a long way with everybody, and I think it's rubbed off on Jimmy, also. Jimmy wants to be a big part. I think he's done well."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.