“You gotta have strong defense up the middle.” It’s one of those baseball clichés you hear all the time. When I think of teams with great defense up the middle the “Big Red Machine” Cincinnati teams from the mid 70′s come to mind. Johnny Bench, catcher, Joe Morgan second base, Dave Concepcion shortstop and Cesar Geronimo center field. In ’74, ’75, ’76 and ’77 they all won gold gloves. You can win ballgames with a good offense and you can win ballgames with pitching and defense. The Big Red Machine could do it both ways.
More batted balls are hit to shortstop than any other position so it is imperative to have a good glove man at short. I believe the Ironpigs have one.
Brian Bocock, 3/9/85, Harrisonburg, VA. 5’11″ 185. B/T: R/R
Brian attended Stetson University in Florida and was a 9th round draft pick by the San Francisco Giants in 2006. He was selected for the 2007 Futures Game and he was the opening day shortstop for the Giants in 2008 due to an injury to Omar Vizquel. Vizquel returned on May 10th and Bocock was optioned to AAA Fresno in the Pacific Coast League after hitting just .143 with the Giants. On January 5, 2010 the Giants removed him from their 40 man roster to make room for Juan Uribe who was just signed as a free agent. Two days later he was claimed off waivers by the Toronto Blue Jays. Just three weeks later the Blue Jays tried to slip him through waivers but he was claimed by the Phillies. Bocock began the 2010 season with the Ironpigs and once Wilson Valdez was promoted to the Phillies, the starting shortstop job belonged to him.
Shortstop has always been my favorite position on the field and it’s no secret that I became a big Brian Bocock fan in 2010. Although he has had his problems with the bat, there has never been any question about his defensive ability. He is by far the best defensive shortstop to ever wear an Ironpigs uniform and you could make a strong argument that in 2010 he was the best defensive shortstop in the International League. Bocock made just 12 errors at shortstop for the Ironpigs in 2010 and 5 of those errors came in bad weather games in the first month of the season. That means from May 9 to the end of the season he made just 7 errors. When the Phillies placed Chase Utley on the DL on June 29th, Bocock was called up to replace him but he was there just 4 days when he was outrighted back to the Ironpigs and Cody Ransom was promoted to the Phillies. The brief promotion seemed to awaken his bat (or was it changing his number from #11 to #10?) because he hit .309 with 3 homeruns in July and hit .288 from the allstar break to the end of the season. Throw in 31 walks after the allstar break and his on base percentage from July 15 to the end of the season was an extremely impressive .401. His 49 walks for the season was second on the team behind only Andy Tracy. Bocock also hit a respectable .277 vs. left handed pitching in 2010. Still, his strong finish only raised his batting average to .226. His excellent work with the glove and strong second half earned him a September callup to the Phillies where he got to play in 6 games. If Bocock could put together an entire season similar to his second half in 2010 you would be looking at a potential International League allstar. No matter how well (or how poorly) he hits, I’d expect Bocock to get the majority of the starts at shortstop for the Ironpigs again in 2011. Pete Orr was previewed at second base but he is also a very capable shortstop. If Orr is with the Ironpigs for the entire season, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him play 40 or more games at 3 different positions. With Bocock and Orr on the 2011 Ironpigs, no other shortstop is needed on the roster.
Freddy “Toco” Galvis, 11/14/89, Punto Fijo, Venezuela. 5’10″ 170. B/T: S/R
Freddy was signed by the Phillies as a non-drafted free agent on July 2, 2006 when he was just 16 years old. He is the classic good field/no hit shortstop but he is still only 21 years. When you consider that he has been playing against older competition at every minor league level, there is still plenty of time for improvement at the plate. In 2007 he hit .203 at Williamsport, and in 2008 at Lakewood he hit .238. He followed that up by hitting .247 at Clearwater in ’09 and in 2010 he hit .233 with 5 homeruns with the AA Reading Phillies. He was the youngest player on the Reading Phillies last year and he will most likely return to Reading again in 2011 where he can work on his hitting and general on-base skills.
Carlos Rivero, 5/20/88 Barquisimeto, Venezuela, 6’3″ 200. B/T: R/R.
Carlos Rivero was signed as an amateur free agent by the Cleveland Indians in 2005. The Phillies claimed him off waivers from the Indians on November 3, 2010. Depending on which website you look at, his weight is listed anywhere from 200 to 220 pounds. That puts him in the Cal Ripken/A-Rod body style at shortstop. The comparison ends there. In A+ ball in 2008 he hit .282 with 8 homeruns. Rivero played at AA Akron in 2009 and 2010. In 2009 he hit .242 and then hit .232 with 6 homeruns and 43 RBIs in 2010. In 107 games at shortstop last year he made 28 errors. In his minor league career he has made 109 errors in 496 games at shortstop. I’m not sure what the Phillies have in mind for him but he appears to be destined for his third straight year at the AA level.