The New York Yankees are stocked with catchers at Spring Training this season. Backstops on the 40-man roster include offseason acquisition Brian McCann, Francisco Cervelli, Austin Romine, JR Murphy and Gary Sanchez. The non-roster invitees in Tampa are Peter O’Brien, Jose Gil and Francisco Arcia.
Arcia was signed by the Yankees out of Venezuela in 2006 at the age of 16 and has played in their minor league system for the past seven seasons. The team saw him as an athletic catcher, and they were right. Arcia has allowed just 36 passed balls in over 1,800 innings behind the plate.
Arcia started out making steady improvement year-to-year. Splitting time between the Gulf Coast League and Class-A Charleston in 2010, the lefty hit .255/.313/.349. But then an ankle injury hit, and his progress was derailed — Arcia was limited to just three games in 2011.
During that time, Arcia also had another setback in the way of competition. In 2009, the Yankees signed Sanchez, now known to be one of the best catching prospects in baseball. More of an offensive-minded catcher, Sanchez has compiled a .275/.342/.468 line in just four minor league seasons. Until the Yankees signed McCann to a five-year deal, Sanchez was all but a shoo-in for the everyday Major League job in the very near future.
Arcia rebounded from injury nicely in 2012, hitting .246/.319/.384 with Charleston and being named a South Atlantic League midseason All-Star. Defensively, he was sharp, gunning down 23 out of 91 runners attempting to steal that season, good for 25 percent.
Now 24, Arcia is in Tampa likely trying to make a case for the everyday job in Double-A Trenton. He has played a total of 268 games in the Yankees’ system but only just broke into Double-A last season for 19 games. Sanchez will likely spend 2014 in Triple-A Scranton, and Arcia will look to improve with hopefully more consistent playing time in Trenton.