Thursday, March 15, 2018

Low-key competitions: Catcher

The conventional wisdom has it that the Twins bench is pretty much set: infielders Eduardo Escobar and Ehire Adrianza; catcher Mitch Garver; outfielder Robbie Grossman. That was the presumption when camp opened, and it's the presumption today.

Garver had a big 2017 at Triple A, slashing .291/.387/.541 for Rochester. With Chris Gimenez gone to the Cubs, the job of backing up Jason Castro should fall to Garver, who is now 27.

But Garver has has a rough spring at the plate, with just one hit in his first 21 plate appearances (a home run), and while the Twins say every year that his receiving skills have improved, that they keep saying suggests that he's not a particularly good defensive catcher. So there might be an opening.

The Twins have a pair of nonroster catchers in camp worth noting as potential alternatives to Garver. Bobby Wilson, 34, has in the majors for all or part of eight seasons with five different clubs. always as a back-up. He spent last season at the Dodgers' Triple A affiliate. He won't hit, but is presumably a superior defensive catcher to Garver.

A more interesting option is Willians Astudillo, who captivated the internet with this no-look pickoff throw during the one weekend Twins exhibition I didn't attend:

Astudillo, 26, is a better hitter than Wilson (probably), and not as good as Garver. He's definitely an odd hitter; he seldom takes pitches and has excellent bat-to-ball skills. I saw him get at least three at-bats during my Ft. Myers jaunt, and none went longer than two pitches. Call him Mr. Pace-of-Play.

I expect Garver to be the back up; 21 plate appearances in spring training mean nothing. He's hit at every level. If he isn't, I would rather have Astudillo, if only for entertainment value.


  1. Great video! Plays like that are rally busters.

  2. Fangraphs has an interesting piece on the Astudillo pick off. Do you know if he has an opt out?