Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Farm Hens: Catcher

The worst position for prospects (you could argue in the majors as well) currently in baseball is the catcher. They are few and far between, so it is no surprise that our organization has very little to look forward to. This is an issue because Jason Varitek is getting old, and Doug Mirabelli needs to get out of town as soon as possible. There are three prospects worth speaking off, neither of which are much,

George Kottaras was traded to the Red Sox in exchange for David Wells last year. He is currently the catcher at Pawtucket, posting a line of .238/.315/.389. Since coming to Boston he has seen a dip in his production. The first three seasons of his career he posted an OPS above .813 in all of them. A huge problem is his walks around down and strikeouts are down. Odd trend, so i would expect it to start to change. His BABIP is also down, but both his LD% and GB% have stayed pretty constant. I would expect that to increase as well. Defensively, he is pretty solid. I think he has a decent chance of getting a shot at catching Wakefield next year. He is the furthiest along of all the catchers and has experience catching the knockleball. I don't know how Wake would feel about this, but that will have to wait. Kottaras is not a star in the making, but he may be a back-up someday in the big leagues.

Mark Wagner is the biggest surprise on the list. He put up alright numbers at Greenville last year, but took a big hit in production when being promoted to Wilmington. This year the organization moved him to Lancaster and he has been a monster. He has posted a line of .299/.395/.500. The kid doesn't hit many groundballs, which is extremely nice. He also hits for decent contact, hardly ever striking out and walks at an alright rate. It needs to be said that he is playing in a hitters heaven. Balls fly out of that park, which makes me a little skeptical. I don't think he can slug .500 anywhere but Lancaster. Wagner plays good defense, and is known for having a good presence for a catcher. He calls a good game, which makes he all the more attractive. He is 23 years old, so I'd expect him to be promoted, this year or next, to Portland. My guess is he never makes it. I wish the kid luck, but the numbers don't translate.

Jonathan Still is the youngest and, in my opinion, the most attractive of the bunch. Still has been a beast this season, not just for a catcher. He has a line of .299/.429/.556 while playing for Greenville. He has great plate discipline and leadership skills. He is a good in game caller but has a below average arm. He has played some time at first and that could end up being his position. Makes good contact, more importantly the right kind of contact. He has gap power and hits lots of line drives. He still has a lot of development, so I wouldn't expect to see him anytime in the next 2 years. On that note, i think he has the best chance of being a big leaguer. The biggest question mark is whether he can improve his defense enough to stay at catcher, or will he have to make the move to first.

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