The Phillies’ first wave of September call-ups arrived Sunday and the most intriguing name on a rather bland list was Deivy Grullon.
The 23-year-old catcher had an exceptional season at the plate with triple-A Lehigh Valley, hitting .283 with 21 home runs, 24 doubles and 77 RBIs. His RBI total ranked seventh in the International League and his .851 OPS was first among the league’s catchers.
Still, it’s difficult to get too excited about Grullon when the Phillies already have All-Star J.T. Realmuto, whom they hope to keep around as their No. 1 catcher far into the future even though he can become a free agent after next season.
Grullon is likely to play a very limited role with the Phillies in September.
“We see him as a right-handed bat off the bench, a guy who could hit a home run for us and potentially make one or two starts for us in September, depending on what we need,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “Having a third catcher, of course, enables us to pinch-hit more aggressively.”
Kapler said Grullon also made strides defensively in 2019, but they apparently weren’t enough to allow him to take the backup job away from veteran Andrew Knapp, who has struggled to hit in that role the last two seasons.
“He’s improved from a blocking and throwing standpoint,” Kapler said. “One of the areas of focus for us is just game planning. Sometimes that just comes from experience.”
In addition to Grullon, the Phillies also brought up infielder Phil Gosselin and pitchers Cole Irvin and Nick Vincent from the IronPigs. They also activated outfielder Jay Bruce from the injured list.
The Phillies are also expected to add outfielders Nick Williams and Jose Pirela, third baseman Maikel Franco and pitcher Nick Pivetta during the team’s four-game series in Cincinnati that begins Monday afternoon. Pivetta cannot return until Tuesday and Franco must wait until Thursday.
“J.T. Realmuto plays virtually every day, so I don’t know if there will be a ton of opportunities for Grullon, but if he merely comes up and gets a taste of the big-league clubhouse and exposure to this level for a month with a few at-bats … we think that can be really important for him moving forward,” general manager Matt Klentak said.
Grullon found out about his first trip to the big leagues Saturday night after hitting two home runs for Lehigh Valley.
“For me, it’s a very exciting moment because I promised my dad that I would make it to the big leagues,” he said.
To make room on the roster for all their moves, the Phillies placed pitchers Jerad Eickhoff and Adam Morgan on the 60-day injured list and designated right-hander Drew Anderson for assignment.