Having looked previously at the state of the Kansas City Royals‘ Spring Training pitching staff, it only makes sense to continue on and look at the catchers as well.
The Royals took seven catchers into camp this year, and three of them start out on the 40-man roster. They will be competing for (presumably) two spots on the 25-man roster. We will look at these players first and then move on to the non-roster invitees in part two. As with the pitchers, there will be a bit of background ahead of a prediction about where they will find themselves on 1 April.
Brett Hayes was acquired off waivers from the Miami Marlins during the winter and is, if not the presumptive backup on Opening Day, at least a strong candidate. He is a much better defensively than with the bat (he hit .202 in the majors last year and .231 the year before that), which would seem to be a better fit for the Royals. Hayes one of three catchers already on the 40-man roster, so he has a slight edge over some of his competition already.
Prediction: It will certainly come down to in-camp performance, but I think he is actually just about more likely to end up at Triple-A.
George Kottaras is the main competition for Hayes and is actually a very similar player. Kottaras was also claimed off waivers from the Oakland Athletics, and is also a defensively-oriented player. He hit just .211 last year between the A’s and the Milwaukee Brewers. What may give him a slight edge over Hayes is the postseason experience he picked up with those two clubs.
Prediction: Again, it’s down to performances during Spring Training. But I think he has the edge over Hayes.
Salvador Perez missed a lot of 2012 with an injury sustained early in Spring Training, but then spent the rest of the year showing just how much the Royals missed him. He hit .301 with eleven home runs in just 76 games. He also managed to lead the major leagues in pickoffs by a catcher, despite just having played less than half a season. Unless another catastrophe befalls him, he will catch James Shields on 1 April.
Prediction: Opening Day catcher