Boston Red Sox Have an Abundance of Catching
Boston Red Sox Have an Abundance of Catching
For around 15-years, prior to 2012, the Boston Red Sox knew who would be starting at catcher come opening day. However, after he was unable to sign a new contract, Jason Varitek retired from playing the game of baseball.
Varitek now serves as a special assistant to the general manager and is working with the catchers at the Red Sox spring training complex in Fort Myers, Fla. The former catcher will mentor these young catchers in addition to his duties as special assistant. Having a veteran catcher on staff is something the Red Sox will enjoy, seeing how they have a few catchers on their way up the minor league ranks.
During Varitek’s last two seasons with the Red Sox, the catcher split time with Jarrod Saltalamacchia behind the plate. Saltalamacchia was the main catcher for the Red Sox in 2012 and played in 121 games. The 27-year old has never hit well for average, but he contributed with his bat last season, managing to hit a career-high 25 homers.
The catching position is deep in the organization, further than Saltamacchia and recent addition, David Ross. There are a couple future starters for the Red Sox down on the farm, as well as a few catchers that may eventually serve in a backup role. Although there are many catchers in the Red Sox minor league system, only one has seen action at the major league, level and it didn’t go as planned.
If the Red Sox are in a position to make a deal getting closer to the trade deadline, they may be inclined to move one of their catching prospects or Saltamacchia to bring another position in.
Here is a breakdown of the two current Red Sox catchers, as well as four that could eventually see time for the big league club within the next few years.
Most likely, the Boston Red Sox Opening Day starter will be Jarrod Saltamacchia. Since joining the Red Sox, the catcher has batted .226 with 41 homers and 116 RBI. The switch hitter won’t be winning a batting title anytime soon, but has the ability to hit a ball over the green monster. The biggest concern with Saltalamacchia is his defensive ability, and he has had some issues getting the ball back to the pitcher. I don’t really see ‘Salty’ as the long-term solution at catcher for the Red Sox.
The Boston Red Sox signed catcher David Ross to a two-year deal worth $6.2 million, and will platoon him at the catching position with Jarrod Saltamacchia this season. Ross has spent time with six different teams, including an eight-game stint with the Red Sox in 2008. The 35-year old catcher has a great game-calling ability, a plus defensive game and a little pop in his bat. His veteran leadership will help in the clubhouse and if a catching prospect gets called up, he will be able to help mentor the youngster.
Ryan Lavarnway saw time with the Boston Red Sox last season and it didn’t go as well as planned. Over 24 games, the catcher only batted .157 with two homers and 12 RBI. The sixth rounder in 2008 has sold power with the ability to hit, however his defensive ability is lacking. The 25-year-old may one day start for the Red Sox, but could also be David Oritz’s replacement at DH, if he can hit well in the majors.
Projected as a starter.
Blake Swihart was drafted during the first round of the 2011 June Amateur Draft. The switching hitting catcher has plus bat speed and explosive hands, as well as good defensive ability with a plus arm and smooth release. In 2012, the 20-year-old batted .262 with seven home runs and 53 RBI over 92 games for the Single-A Greenville Drive. He will spend a few more seasons in the minors, but will one day contribute to the Boston Red Sox starting lineup.
Status: Projected as a starter.
Christian Vazquez has great defensively ability in a addition to his an average hitter in the minor leagues. The 2008 draft pick will need to increase his hitting ability if he wants to make it in the majors. The 22-year old will need a few more years in the minors to even have a shot backing up anyone in the majors. Although he is a few years away, he will be a welcome sight on most rosters, and has some good upside.
Status: Project as a backup.
Daniel Butler is expected to split time with Ryan Lavarnway this season with the Triple-A Pawtucket Red Sox. Signed as an un-drafted in 2009, Butler is a small-framed catcher with some things to learn. The 26-year old is a career .259 minor league hitter with only 29 home runs and 166 RBI over three seasons. In 2007, he had Tommy John Surgery.
Status: Projected as a backup.
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