Daniel Shirey-US PRESSWIRE
Talking Chop takes a look at every catcher in the Atlanta Braves spring training camp, and examines the chance each one of them has at making the club to open the season.
The Atlanta Braves Making The Team Meter continues today with the catchers. We've never done an MTM just for catchers. In fact, for the last few years we haven't even included catchers in the hitters section thanks to the reliability of Brian McCann and David Ross.
But this year is different. Ross has left us for Boston, and McCann is likely going to begin the year on the disabled list recovering from right shoulder surgery that he had in October. For now the only catcher we can assume has made the roster is new arrival Gerald Laird.
Here are the rest of the rest of the contenders to begin the year as the backup to Laird until McCann is ready to return.
|Catcher||Trend||Last Week||Roster Status||Notes and Comments|
|Christian Bethancourt||n/a||40-Man||On the 40-man roster, so one might think that gives him a big advantage. He's also a great defensive catcher, with many saying last spring training that his defense was already Major League caliber, so one might think that gives him another advantage. But he can't really hit... yet. And that yet might keep the Braves from rushing him to the Majors and starting his clock too early. Still, a lot could depend on how he handles a bat this spring.|
|Luis De La Cruz||n/a||NRI||Already a minor league veteran of seven seasons at just 23-years-old, he made it onto some prospect lists in the Cardinals organization back in 2008. Like Bethancourt, De La Cruz is all defense and throwing arm, and very little bat. There was hope when he was younger that his bat would materialize at some point, but it has yet to appear with any potency. He's probably more of a AA level catcher, so he's got very little chance of being the backup.|
|Evan Gattis||n/a||NRI||El Oso Blanco was the talk of the Winter Leagues for the Braves faithful. Many were penciling him in to left field before the team acquired their second Upton of the off-season. Now many are wondering where his potent bat could fit on the 2013 Braves. The answer could be catcher. But Gattis is the polar opposite of Bethancourt. Gattis is a potentially great hitter, with power, but his defense is, shall we say, rough around the edges. One thing Gattis is though, is a tireless worker, and he will use the spring to improve as much as he can behind the plate if that's what the Braves want him to do. Gattis also has a shot to make the club as a pinch hitter which is why I start him off with a green arrow.|
|Matt Kennelly||n/a||NRI||He is on the Australian World Baseball Classic team, so he might miss some time due to that commitment. He's been with the organization a long time, and pitchers love throwing to him. He's a good defender and he can handle a bat okay for a catcher, though nothing that will blow your socks off. He's the definition of an organizational catcher, but sometimes those guys get a shot.|
|Brian McCann||n/a||40-Man||Wait, what? Why is he on here you ask. Bri thinks he's going to start the season on the 25-man roster, and depending on which story you read from one day to the next, the team either agrees with him or doesn't. We'll see, and we'll keep an eye on his progress. Apparently his last hurdle is sliding, for which he has not been cleared to do. My guess is the team will take the safe route and give him a couple more weeks before pushing him into the everyday Major League lineup.
|Matt Pagnozzi||n/a||NRI||If the Braves go with Major League experience, then Pagnozzi could be their guy. He's played parts of three seasons in the Majors with St. Louis, Colorado and Pittsburgh, amassing only 83 plate appearances. He's the nephew of MLB veteran catcher Tom Pagnozzi, so he's got a good pedigree, and combined with his MLB experience he's been talked about as probably the top candidate for the job.|
|Braeden Schlehuber||n/a||NRI||Shlay-hoober is the organizational catcher a rung below Kennelly in the Atlanta system. He's a good defender, offers a little more offense than Kennelly, and pitchers like throwing to him. But like Kennelly he not going to blow your socks off.|
|Jose Yepez||n/a||NRI||The Braves don't have J.C. Boscan in camp this year, but they might as well since Jose Yepez is about the same. Yepez is a 31-year-old minor league veteran of 12 seasons, a good defender and handler of pitchers, and a better hitter than Boscan. Fredi has mentioned him as a possibility, and he would certainly be the veteran option, and deserving of a shot at his age. He should have as good a chance as anyone on this list to be the early season backup. Based on his 12 year quest to get the Majors, I'm rooting for him to make it.
|= Chance of making the team is good.|
|= Chance of making the team is slightly better than 50-50.|
|= Chance of making the team is slightly worse than 50-50.|
|= Chance of making the team is bad.|
The rest of the team reports on Thursday, we'll have an MTM that day with all the other positional battles.