The question of back-up catcher is a small one, yes…but due to the story surrounding each “contestant” for the job, it’s a mildly interesting one as well. Below is a brief write-up on each of the three catchers vying for the job. Each write-up includes a quick Cards ‘N Stuff ranking based on what we know about each catcher at this point in time…in my opinion. In other words, if Defense is a relative unknown due to lack of Experience, that weighs in against the candidate when ranking his Defense.
After the write-ups, please take a moment to vote for your choice for back-up back-stop in the Cards ‘N Stuff poll. Enjoy!
Koyie Hill: Perhaps the most unknown player (to Cards fans) in the scrum for second string catcher is Koyie Hill. The career back-up catcher from Chicago’s baby-bear squad carries a career slash line of .245/.332/.340. His best season seems to have been in 2009 when he hit .385/.458/.558 in 52 at-bats for the Cubs. So far, he’s carried himself well in Spring Training. While he’s not the most offensively minded catcher in the group, he may be the most balanced. His bat can occasionally contribute, and he certainly has the most major league experience of all the candidates…but one has to wonder, is it worth putting a guy like this on the team when his upside appears to be so low? There just doesn’t seem to be anything truly special about this guy. RANKINGS (OUT OF 3): Experience: 1 Offense: 3 Defense: 1 Versatility: 2 Potential Upside: 3
Bryan Anderson: Anderson is perhaps the most storied of the three possibilities. Formerly heralded as one of the organization’s top prospects, Anderson hit a wall when he arrived in AAA – a wall called Tony La Russa. Known for his preference for strong defensive catchers who call a good game and handle pitchers well, TLR never took to the under-developed Anderson. As a result, the player settled in at AAA and remained there…wallowing. Now, his “prospect” status all but a memory, Anderson arrives in camp having spent the off season making the most dramatic improvements at defense of his career (according to his occasional catching instructor, Mike Matheny). His line-drive bat still impresses at several levels – and has always been a plus – but his defense, maturity, and ability to handle a pitching staff is still up for debate. On the plus side, because of his unexpected tenure in Memphis, Anderson should have experience catching most, if not all, of the organization’s young pitchers – both in the MLB ‘pen and on their way from AAA soon. RANKINGS (OUT OF 3): Experience: 2 Offense: 1 Defense: 2 Versatility: 3 Potential Upside: 1
Tony Cruz: After his brief stint with the club last season, Cruz seems to be the player that gets most fans excited. He has a history as a corner infielder – which, one would assume means he would be versatile enough to play other positions in an emergency situation – and a developing bat that is better than his .262/.315/.389 slash line from last year in AAA would suggest. Pitchers supposedly like working with the mature catcher (drawing praise from the likes of Chris Carpenter no less), and his potential upside seems to be unknown but possibly exciting. However, because he is a converted infielder-turned-catcher, many believe he would be better served starting every day in AAA – a chance for him to turn in his first full season as a catcher. RANKINGS (OUT OF 3): Experience: 3 Offense: 2 Defense: 3 Versatility: 1 Potential Upside: 2
Anderson: Experience (2) Offense (1) Defense (2) Versatility (3) Potential Upside (1)
Cruz: Experience (3) Offense (2) Defense (3) Versatility (1) Potential Upside (2)
Hill: Experience (1) Offense (3) Defense (1) Versatility (2) Potential Upside (3)