The Phillies have marked each home run at Citizens Bank Park this season by immediately placing a cardboard cutout of the player’s face in the spot where his home run landed.
Bryce Harper’s mug is in the third deck in right field. Didi Gregorious is sitting in the second row of Section 204. Seven faces are hanging above the bullpen.
But you can excuse the Phillies for not having a headshot of Rafael Marchan ready on Friday night after the 21-year-old catcher homered to tie the game. It was the first professional – major league or minor league – home run of Marchan’s career. After 769 at-bats since signing with the Phillies five years ago in Venezuela, Marchan had a homer.
So the Phillies improvised by placing a blank cardboard scribbled with “Marchan” on it. It was hard to be prepared for his homer as even Marchan said he was surprised.
“That’s the best feeling,” Marchan said. “Best feeling I can have. I was happy running the bases.”
Marchan was promoted to the big leagues after J.T. Realmuto was sidelined earlier this month with hip soreness. He had yet to reach double A, but the Phillies needed a second catcher. So they summoned Marchan from the alternate site in Allentown after he impressed manager Joe Girardi with his defense during spring training in Clearwater, Fla.
“I have to thank the Phillies for the confidence and the manager for the confidence,” Marchan said. “Now I’m here, and I’m enjoying the moment.”
Marchan, in four minor-league seasons, hit .285 with a .687 OPS. He’s a defensive-first catcher, posting a .988 fielding percentage last season in 70 games while throwing out 36% of base stealers. His work behind the plate helped him finish last season in high-A Clearwater, where he was more than two years younger than the average player. Baseball America ranked him as the farm system’s best defensive catcher.
The Phillies hope his bat can catch up to his glove. And Friday night was a good sign of growth. Maybe his second homer won’t be such a surprise.
“It really is pretty amazing that your first home run is in the big leagues,” manager Joe Girardi said before Saturday’s game. “I can understand if you sign as a college player and you go straight to the big leagues, your first homer is going to be in the big leagues. But it’s really incredible what he did yesterday.”