Los Angeles Angels: Could Hank Conger Become Full-Time Catcher?
Since the departure of longtime catcher Bengie Molina after the 2005 season, the Los Angeles Angels have been rotating catchers behind the plate for the last several years.
This includes having then-Angels catchers Mike Napoli and Jeff Mathis split behind-the-plate duties for a few seasons, and the team has done the same with Chris Iannetta and Hank Conger over the last couple of seasons. So with that said, should the Halos put an end to their catcher carousel and make Conger their full-time starter?
Since getting drafted as the 25th overall pick by the Angels in the 2006 MLB draft, the 25-year-old spent his first his four years as a professional player going through the minor league system. Conger excelled at each level as he averaged a .297/.355/.467 triple-slash with 12 home runs and 61 RBIs during that span.
He made his major league debut in the 2010 season after a productive year with the Triple-A Salt Lake Bees, where he batted .300 with 11 home runs and 49 RBIs. He also received MVP honors in the All-Star Futures game. Since his call-up to the majors, Conger has split catching duties with Iannetta.
As the Halos continue to rotate catchers behind the plate, it has not allowed Conger to become fully comfortable at the plate as he has batted .199/.281/.300 with 13 home runs and 46 RBIs in 171 major league games. This also included Conger getting sent down to the minors for two different stints to the Triple-A level in 2011 and 2012, where he flourished as a full-time catcher.
Last season, he was able to receive more playing time as he appeared in a career-high 92 games and batted .249 with seven home runs and 21 RBIs. Conger has proven that when he does receive substantial amount of playing time, he produces at the plate. Granted it was in the minor leagues, but with adequate playing time as a full-time catcher in the majors next season, Conger could become a serviceable player for the Angels for years to come.
His production would likely surpass that of oft-injured Iannetta, who has batted .233 with 20 home runs and 65 RBIs, and has 160 strikeouts in only in 194 games played the past two seasons. So if the Angels indeed decide to make Conger their full-time catcher this upcoming season, there is the potential for him to develop into a very productive player.