CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Joe Girardi caught 15 seasons in the big leagues. He managed catchers like Jorge Posada, Ivan Rodriguez, Brian McCann, Gary Sanchez and Russell Martin.
But Girardi never saw what he saw Monday from Phillies catching prospect Rafael Marchan.
“He’s the block master,” Girardi said after an 8-7 victory over the Orioles. “The master. That might have been the best exhibition of blocking I’ve ever seen in one game.”
Marchan is the Phillies’ No. 13 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline. He figures to crack the top 10 in the 2020 rankings, which will be released later this week. The Phils signed Marchan for $200,000 as part of the 2015-16 international signing period, which is looking more and more like a bargain. Marchan is brilliant defensively, which has him on a path to the big leagues. He has not homered in 846 career plate appearances in the Minor Leagues, but some believe he will hit enough to stick.
Marchan turns 21 on Tuesday. He threw out a runner stealing second base on Sunday in a Grapefruit League game against the Pirates. Marchan blocked a ball and made a strong throw to second base in the sixth inning on Monday, which should have nabbed Rylan Bannon stealing second. Minor Leaguer Ali Castillo dropped the ball.
“He threw it too hard,” Girardi joked.
Marchan is getting an unexpectedly extended look early in camp because the Phillies had only five catchers come to their Major League camp, and three of them are unavailable. Andrew Knapp is recovering from a sore rib cage. Deivy Grullon is out until at least Friday because of an infected tooth after he lost a filling. Christian Bethancourt got hit in the head with a backswing on Sunday. He is OK, but the Phils want to be careful with him.
“We didn't plan on being short on catchers,” Girardi said. “You're going to see him a lot I'm sure the next few days.”
Bryce Harper is scheduled to make his Grapefruit League debut on Tuesday in a split-squad game against the Blue Jays at Spectrum Field.
Girardi said he hopes Harper will play five innings and get three at-bats.
“It's important I see Segura,” Girardi said. “Continue to see him at third. And Kingery at second.”
Right-handed pitching prospect Ramón Rosso struck out two and allowed one hit in two scoreless innings. He could be a future option in the bullpen.
“Really good,” Girardi said. “Ramon threw the ball really well. Command of a couple different pitches. Very efficient. Down in the zone. I think he had a strikeout up in the zone. Yeah, he threw the ball really, really well.”
Left-hander Zach Warren, who hails from South Jersey, struck out the three batters he faced in the ninth.
“His ball kind of explodes,” Girardi said. “It has sink. He had a really good curveball.”
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, Sixers
The Phillies played Carlos De La Cruz in center field for a few innings against the Orioles. De La Cruz, 20, posted a .598 OPS in 461 plate appearances last season with Class A Lakewood. He played 40 games in center.
Why is that worth mentioning? Well, because De La Cruz is 6-foot-8.
“I thought it was Ben Simmons,” Girardi said. “We were giving Ben an at-bat.”
The tallest center fielder in baseball history, according to Baseball Reference? Aaron Judge, who is 6-foot-7.