Friday, June 17, 2005

Meet the catchers

The Sox did exactly what they were supposed to in the last few days and that's beat up on the Reds starters and win the games. What came as a little surprise was the dominance of the Red Sox starters. The team has almost made it through a full turn in the rotation with each pitcher throwing a gem. Wade Miller hopes to make it a complete turn through the rotation against the Pirates tonight. This is another series that the Sox should be able to take.

Earlier in the week I posted a list of the top ten catching prospects in baseball. Since this is a Red Sox site I figured I'd have a list, in no particular order, of the catchers in the Red Sox system. They have a solid catching core at the top consisting of Varitek, Mirabelli, and Shoppach, but below that they really don't have much of anything. But I listed them all anyways. Here is a list of all the organization's catchers from the majors to low-A Greenville.

Jason Varitek - Over the last couple of seasons Varitek has catapulted himself towards the top of the list of best catchers in baseball. Very few in the game are more respected than the man that the Red Sox have behind the plate. While I am a little worried that he's getting to be overrated, it's hard not to like the guy. I just don't want him to turn into a Red Sox version of Captain Intangibles. Either way, the guy is good and is entrenched behind the plate for quite a while making life a little bit grim for a catcher in the Red Sox system.

Doug Mirabelli - Not only do the Red Sox have the best starting catcher in the league, but they also have one of the best back ups. No one has ever seen how Mirabelli would handle a full workload behind the plate, but many believe that he could be a starting catcher on half the teams out there. His numbers are way down this year compared to last year and not just because of the few weeks that he lost to injury. I think he just hasn't had the playing time to start coming around yet.

Kelly Shoppach - The trend doesn't stop with two of the best at the major league level. Kelly Shoppach is a name listed near the tops of most people's top catching prospects list. Shoppach is known mostly for his defense and for the power in his bat. He strikes out a lot and, like most catchers, can't run, but he produces some pretty solid numbers. He struggled at the plate last year, but after having a little while to adjust, he's doing just fine this year. He does have a low batting average at .264, but walks enough for a .374 OBP and his 11 homers and 8 doubles in 148 AB's give him a very respectable .541 SLG. He could be trade bait or he could be injury insurance. He could be a very valueable piece to the organization.

Shawn Wooten - Wooten was a non roster invitee to spring training this year, signed to add a little bit of depth and major league experience to the club. When he's not backing up Shoppach behind the plate, he's in the line up in Pawtucket at either first or DH. So far the signing has not been a good one as his .232/.291/.394 line in 203 AB's shows how much he's struggling. He was the 501st selection of the 93 amature draft by Detroit. He's also been part of the Angels and Phillies organization. He's had some good years at the minor league level, but so far at the age of 33, he's never put it together in the bigs despite getting a few shots.

Alberto Concepcion - Concepcion is known more for his defensive skills than for his light bat. He's hitting .269/.321/.366 as Portland's primary catcher and hits at the bottom of the line up. He hit the ball well in his senior year at USC going .363/.466/.637, but so far at the age of 24 he hasn't hit the ball all that well. He was a second round pick by the Padres coming out of highschool, but decided to attend college instead and fell to the 21st round when the Sox took him in 2002.

Jim Buckley - Buckley is essentially a 25 year old organizational filler. So far the best portion of his professional career was when he hit .236 in 55 AB's in high-A in 2003. He was drafted in the 25th round in 2002, has never hit a thing as a professional, and was called up from his back-up job in Portland when Wooten was called up to the majors in mid-May. In limited playing time so far in Pawtucket he's hitting .158/.289/.184. He's struck out 18 times in 38 at bats.

Clint Chauncey - Here is a guy who is 24 years old and is hitting .159/.222/ A ball. He's working in his fourth organization since the Yankees drafted him in the 16th round in 2000 and he has exactly one home run as a professional. I'm willing to be my life on the fact that this guy will never even get a sniff of the big leagues.

Jeff Ontiveros - Oniveros was never drafted, but has been in the Red Sox organization since 2002. He's currently 26 and still playing in Wilmington. He's been getting the bulk of the team's time behind the plate and even batting clean up, but his .239/.352/.471 line isn't impressive for someone his age. He's taking the walks and hitting for power, but he's also striking out a lot.

Mitch Stachowsky - In 103 at bats the 20 year old Stachowsky has been Greenville's worst hitter with a pitiful .165/.298/.350 line. 11 of his 17 hits have gone for extra bases and he has walked 14 times, but so far the guy jsut can't hit. He's in his second year as a pro after being selected by the Sox in the 50th round of the 2003 draft.

Salvador Paniagua - Paniagua, 22, has walked 1 time in 104 at bats and has a .240/.248/.462 line. He's getting the extra base hits, but a 29-1 k-bb ratio will never cut it. He was signed as an amateur free agent by the Sox in 2001 and has so far had a professional career identical to the numbers he's putting up this year. He doesn't hit for average, doesn't draw walks, but manages an extra base hit every now and then.

Edit - Former fan favorite Brian Daubach is back up in the bigs with the Mets. Daubach will be sharing the first base duties with another former Sox first baseman, Doug Mientkiewicz. Minty has been struggling this year and is hitting only .208/.306/.354. Kevin Millar might be struggling at .278/.364/.400, but I've always believed that the Sox made the right choice when they shipped off Minty instead of Millar. You can argue the defense case all you want, but the Red Sox do not need a hole that big in their line up. Anyways, I wish the best of luck to Daubach. He was 0-1 with 3 BB's in his first game as a Met. If he wants to start getting some hits, I strongly recommend that he regrow the Amish beard.

hey you missed a guy... Jeff Bailey. He's been floating around Portland/Pawtucket for the past 2 years. Before that he was with the Expos/Nationals... and before that the Marlins. He's just ok, having a rough season, he's getting up there in age (26).... but he's just a really nice guy when it comes down to it, so I have to keep rooting for him, you know?
A dying man needs to die, as a sleepy man needs to sleep, and there comes a time when it is wrong, as well as useless, to resist.
Stewart Alsop- Posters.
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