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Thread: Year of the Catcher? Not for the Reds

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    Posting in Dynarama M2's Avatar
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    Year of the Catcher? Not for the Reds

    In conjunction with the announcement that Matt Wieters won BA's minor league player of the year honors, BA ran a story about all the hot catching prospects in the minors.

    http://www.baseballamerica.com/onlin...08/266835.html

    You need a BA subscription to read it, but it's a fairly thorough article which names 19 catching prospects as part of a larger discussion about how to develop catchers.

    Not a one of those 19 prospects catchers plays for the Reds mind you. Maybe Devin Mesoraco will have a breakout season in 2009 or 2010 and join those ranks, but for right now the Reds count as a definitive have-not franchise when it comes to catchers.

    So what can the Reds do about it? Obviously they need to acquire some catching talent at the major league level (and probably upper minors as well).

    In terms of development, the BA article comes with a built-in suggestion on how to build your own catcher - take a kid with good hands, a strong arm and some agility and convert him. Generally this works better with 3Bs, since they tend to have those skills.

    And obviously you want this kid to have a bat too (as the article notes, there's no point in converting a kid unless he brings something to the table at the plate - the minors are full of non-hitting catchers).

    So who do the Reds have to fit that profile? Seems to me the most obvious candidate is Juan Francisco. Admittedly, I have little love for his impatient plate approach and suspect there will come a point in time where better pitchers are going to get him out consistently with a steady diet of junk.

    Yet he does have bat speed and power. If he can hit for average with a healthy SLG, it's a lot easier to swallow a lowish OB behind the plate. The other thing is, it may take him a few years to hone his plate approach to be major-league-ready. If so, he's got the time to don the tools of ignorance.

    Another guy who's a little more advanced, but I think might be worth a conversion is Justin Turner. Granted, he doesn't have a big arm, but he's hard-nosed with a mind for the game. I suspect he'd be a quick study and a catcher conversion would definitely improve his future value.

    I'm curious to see what others would do to improve the catching situation. Waiting for Mesoraco strikes me as too limited a plan, especially given the uncertainty of his future.
    Baseball isn't a magic trick ... it doesn't get spoiled if you figure out how it works. - gonelong

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    Vavasor TRF's Avatar
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    Re: Year of the Catcher? Not for the Reds

    I think princeton mentioned Todd Frazier as a guy that needs a position and would be athletic enough to make the move.
    Suck it up cupcake.

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    Re: Year of the Catcher? Not for the Reds

    Quote Originally Posted by M2 View Post
    In terms of development, the BA article comes with a built-in suggestion on how to build your own catcher - take a kid with good hands, a strong arm and some agility and convert him. Generally this works better with 3Bs, since they tend to have those skills.

    And obviously you want this kid to have a bat too (as the article notes, there's no point in converting a kid unless he brings something to the table at the plate - the minors are full of non-hitting catchers).

    So who do the Reds have to fit that profile? Seems to me the most obvious candidate is Juan Francisco. .
    seems like I've been conducting this symphony.

    Reds have a gazillion candidates. Rosales and Frazier are my faves, but there are several. They draft for smarts and good arms-- so, put those into a place where they help you.

    instead, they keep vacillating about where to play these people.

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    Re: Year of the Catcher? Not for the Reds

    I love the thought of moving Juan Francisco to catcher for the same reason you listed: his plate discipline obviously needs a lot of work and moving him to catcher would slow down his development and allow him more time to hone his plate approach. Plus he's good a very strong arm and is athletic enough to make the move. Todd Frazier could probably make the move but his bat is good enough to carry him to the majors by late 2009 or early 2010 so I don't see the point in slowing his development down. Justin Turner is another fine choice.

    Here's another for ya: Brandon Waring. He's got a strong arm and is supposedly a decent defensive third baseman.

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    Re: Year of the Catcher? Not for the Reds

    Interesting thoughts M2. You're right, Francisco's horrific OBP would be much less of a knock at catcher. Only one catcher in Single A this year beat his .496 slg %.

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    Re: Year of the Catcher? Not for the Reds

    The Reds should get a catcher from another organization to team up next year with Hanigan and Castillo. Such a trio would be good, hopefully for a couple of years.

    Then there is Mesoraco who is a very highly touted prospect and should be ready in 2-3 years.

    There is also Tatum as a defensive type who looks like a major leaguer, likely a backup or platoon guy with defensive skills. He could be available next year in case of injury. There are a few others in the very low minors who appear to be possibilities.

    One trade and the situation isn't too bad.

    If the Reds are going to convert prospects to catcher, they should start at the low minors level. I doubt it would happen with guys who are already at High A ball or above. If higher-level prospects can hit, like Frazier and Francisco, I don't know if the Reds would want to now start the clock again with the years it will take to make them catchers.

    I do agree that Frazier needs a defensive position, but I doubt it will be catcher. He should probably become a left fielder in AA next year.

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    Re: Year of the Catcher? Not for the Reds

    I think the Turner suggestion is very interesting -- my main reservation is that he's a pretty little guy -- he could wear down too quickly. I also wonder whether Ryan Hanigan is already what we hope someone like Turner could become. Hanigan is not bad.

    They're going to trade for Bengie Molina anyway, I think.
    "Baseball is a very, very complex business. It's more of a people business than most businesses." - Bob Castellini

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    Re: Year of the Catcher? Not for the Reds

    Quote Originally Posted by OnBaseMachine View Post
    Todd Frazier could probably make the move but his bat is good enough to carry him to the majors by late 2009 or early 2010 so I don't see the point in slowing his development down.
    That's my take too. Don't convert a kid who's on the fast track.
    Baseball isn't a magic trick ... it doesn't get spoiled if you figure out how it works. - gonelong

    I'm witchcrafting everybody.

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    Re: Year of the Catcher? Not for the Reds

    Quote Originally Posted by Kc61 View Post
    The Reds should get a catcher from another organization to team up next year with Hanigan and Castillo. Such a trio would be good, hopefully for a couple of years.

    Then there is Mesoraco who is a very highly touted prospect and should be ready in 2-3 years.

    There is also Tatum as a defensive type who looks like a major leaguer, likely a backup or platoon guy with defensive skills. He could be available next year in case of injury. There are a few others in the very low minors who appear to be possibilities.

    One trade and the situation isn't too bad.
    I'd suggest you're in a full-blown state of denial.
    Baseball isn't a magic trick ... it doesn't get spoiled if you figure out how it works. - gonelong

    I'm witchcrafting everybody.

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    Re: Year of the Catcher? Not for the Reds

    Quote Originally Posted by M2 View Post
    I'd suggest you're in a full-blown state of denial.
    Outside of that it may take Mesoraco a little longer to develop than suggested, where is he in full blown denial? Tatum is a strong defensive catcher who could serve as a backup type. And one trade to bring another catcher in would help the situation some as well. I would suggest you are overreacting because he was off on one third of his post.

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    Re: Year of the Catcher? Not for the Reds

    Quote Originally Posted by dougdirt View Post
    Outside of that it may take Mesoraco a little longer to develop than suggested, where is he in full blown denial? Tatum is a strong defensive catcher who could serve as a backup type. And one trade to bring another catcher in would help the situation some as well. I would suggest you are overreacting because he was off on one third of his post.
    Yep, Tatum, Hanigan or Castillo could, if the stars align correctly, be a passable backup.

    So maybe the Reds have a backup catcher in stock. Does that represent a good overall catching situation? I think not.

    There is nothing like an everyday solution in house and, unless Mesoraco breaks out, there isn't anything like it in the minors either.

    I'm not one to praise the crumbs in the cupboard when the family is dying of starvation.
    Baseball isn't a magic trick ... it doesn't get spoiled if you figure out how it works. - gonelong

    I'm witchcrafting everybody.

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    Re: Year of the Catcher? Not for the Reds

    Quote Originally Posted by M2 View Post
    That's my take too. Don't convert a kid who's on the fast track.

    Reds have sandbagged him. He might as well learn a trade while he's twiddling his thumbs waiting for them to decide where to play his bat.

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    Re: Year of the Catcher? Not for the Reds

    The Reds are undoubtedly going to add catching in trades or free agency.

    Period.

    All the rest of this is irrelevant. All teams don't necessarily have all the answers in the farm system. Sometimes you go shopping. The Reds undoubtedly will.

    There is no magic to in-house solutions. Sometimes they come from the outside. It can work.
    Last edited by Kc61; 09-09-2008 at 02:43 PM.

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    Re: Year of the Catcher? Not for the Reds

    I'd look at Arizona and obviously, Texas' catching situation for trades. Montero is finally starting to come alive and they ultimately might decide it's time to give him the bulk of catching duties. Or perhaps they are already commited to Snyder. Preferably, we could make a pitch for Snyder, but that might be a little costly.

    As for internal options, I'd focus on grooming lowerish level guys like Franciso and Turner. Rosales is close as a utility guy, and we're going to need Frazier's bat pretty quick. In Turner's case, his bat profiles as more of a .750 OPSish type of utility guy that could suddenly make him part of the catching solution if he takes to the position, rather than being forced into a situation that his bat wont play in. Otherwise, there aren't a lot of internal candidates that make much sense.


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