Saturday, March 12, 2016

Parsing the catchers, part three

Mitch Garver threw
out 38 percent of
base stealers last
year for Fort Myers.
Juan Centeno and John Hicks; Stuart Turner and Carlos Paulino. Four catchers who spent 2015 at Triple A or Double A and who, barring injury, have little opportunity to move up the ladder in 2016.

And coming up from behind, Mitch Garver and Alex Swim.

If Turner and Paulino are catch-and-throw guys who offer little hitting, Garver and Swim might be the opposite. Garver's raw numbers last year at High A Fort Myers don't look like much -- his OPS fell almost 200 point from his 2014 in Low A Cedar Rapids -- but Hammond Stadium is notoriously difficult for hitters. Garver led the Miracle (who finished with the best overall record in their division of the Florida State League) in RBIs and doubles, and he had the best OPS of the six position players with at least 100 games played.

Garver can hit. So, albeit with little power, can Swim, a left-handed hitter who gets much of his playing time in the outfield or at first base. Swim hit .311 in Cedar Rapids in 2014, and he hit .311 again in 2015 for Fort Myers, but with a total of 24 extra-base hits over the two seasons.

Alex Swim caught
264 innings in 2015
and played 341 innings
at other positions.
They were drafted in the same draft as Turner (2013), Turner in the third round, Garver in the ninth and Swim in the 22nd. Turner was slotted a level above Garver from the beginning and has remained there, while Swim and Garver have moved up the ladder roughly in tandem, with Garver getting the priority in at-bats and innings behind the plate.

Last summer, Terry Ryan said that if one could combine Turner and Garver -- Turner's defense and Garver's bat -- you'd have a pretty good catcher. That's not an option. Ryan and his colleagues will have a decision here soon, probably centering on Turner. Does he repeat Double A? If he does, what do you do with Garver? Garver is 25, and there's no point in him repeating High A (he was old for the league last year).

The Twins remade their catching depth this winter, and now they have to sort it out.

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