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  • Twins Organizational Depth Chart - Catchers

    Over the next couple weeks, Iíll be taking a look at the depth by position throughout the Minnesota Twins organization. The majority of moves have been made. There could still be some minor league signings and there remain rumors of the Twins bringing in another starting pitcher.

    Today I will start with the catcher position. It has been a busy, rather interesting offseason for the Twins catching position.
    The first news came in early November when the Twins and Joe Mauer announced that the all-star would be moving to first base permanently. In mid-December, the Twins traded Ryan Doumit to the Atlanta Braves, and a few days later they signed veteran Kurt Suzuki to a one-year deal. Here is a look at the catchers in the Twins system.

    The Big Leaguers

    Most would likely agree with Joe Mauer's decision to move to first base, but it would be naÔve to believe that anyone will be able to fill his shoes. Mauer has been the guy behind the plate for a full decade. Heís won multiple Gold Gloves, Silver Sluggers and batting titles.

    Josmil Pinto
    put up some impressive numbers for the Twins in September after hitting well in both AA and a handful of games in AAA. Most believe he can be a solid hitter in the big leagues because of an advanced hitting approach. The questions about Pinto are clearly around his defense, and those concerns are legit.

    Chris Herrmann
    got some time behind the plate in 2013. His value comes from taking quality at-bats and versatility. Besides catcher, he can also play in the outfield.

    Eric Fryer
    is a 28 year old backstop. As poor as Pinto is behind the plate, Fryer is that good defensively.

    The one certainty to be on the Twins 25-man roster on opening day (assuming health) is recently signed Kurt Suzuki who is a solid, athletic defensive catcher. His decline phase came early due to catching over 145 games two straight years early in his career.

    The reality is that one of two scenarios will unfold. If Josmil Pinto has a strong spring training, he likely enters the season as the #1 catcher with Suzuki as his backup. My assumption is the Twins would love for this scenario to play out. However, if Pinto has a rough camp, or his defense shows no improvement, I believe Suzuki will be the starter with Fryer as his backup.

    Versatility


    Besides Herrmann, the Twins have a few other catchers in the organization who have the ability to move around the diamond, which increases their value.

    Dan Rohlfing
    has been invited to big league camp each of the past three seasons. He has played the corner outfield positions as well as first base. In high school, he primarily played third base. Tyler Grimes made the move to catcher in 2013 after being a shortstop the first two years of his career. He was solid in his first year behind the plate, but he still got a few games at second base. Finally, Jorge Fernandez was drafted out of Puerto Rico in 2012 as a catcher. There is discussion that he could be moved to the outfield in 2014 as he is a very good athlete.

    2013 Draft Picks


    Maybe the Twins had an inkling that even if Mauer had not been have moved to first base in 2014, it was coming in the near future. That may have been a reason they chose to target some catching in the 2013 draft. They drafted three catchers in the first nine rounds.

    Stuart Turner
    was the Twins 3rd round pick as a junior out of Ole Miss while Mitch Garver was their 9th round pick as a senior from New Mexico. They were two of the three finalists for the 2013 Johnny Bench Award, given to the top catcher in college baseball; Turner was the winner. Turner is known for his defense, but he hit nearly .400 during his collegiate season. Alex Swim was a late round pick out of college. He was also a nominee for the Johnny Bench Award. The Twins used a 6th round pick to take prep catcher Brian Navarreto. He is a big athlete who has a chance to be the best of the bunch.

    Prospect Rankings


    As far as who the top catching prospects are in the system, it is clear that Josmil Pinto is head and shoulders above the rest of the group. Beyond that, Navaretto and Turner are guys that I rank in the 30s, and for very different reasons. Turner is a college catcher whose ceiling is solid starter. His floor is solid, long-term backup catcher. Navaretto has the world of potential, but he has a long ways to go.

    Roster
    Projections

    In each installment Iíll make my roster projections. Obviously additional signings or injuries will affect all this, and thatís why it is important to have more than just two or even three at each level. There are also always players put on the disabled list. So again, most likely there wonít be four catchers at Cedar Rapids, but this gives an idea of who could be at each affiliate at the start of the season.

    ∑ Minnesota: Kurt Suzuki, Eric Fryer
    ∑ Rochester: Josmil Pinto, Chris Herrmann, Dan Rohlfing
    ∑ New Britain: Kyle Knudson, Matt Koch
    ∑ Fort Myers: Tyler Grimes, Jairo Rodriguez, Stuart Turner
    ∑ Cedar Rapids: Mitch Garver, Michael Quesada, Bo Altobelli, BK Santy
    ∑ Extended Spring Training: Jorge Fernandez, Brian Navaretto, Joel Polanco, Alex Swim

    Feel free to discuss the players and the roster.
    Comments 26 Comments
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Quote Originally Posted by cmathewson View Post
      I must confess, I don't see why Pinto is as bad defensively as you say, Seth. He's not great at controlling the running game. But he's adequate. He has soft hands and presents a good low target. What exactly are his defensive deficiencies?
      In reality, I don't trust any defensive stats, especially not framing and that kind of stuff. For me, catching is about pitch-calling, working with pitchers, adjusting to pitchers/hitters, as well as the things you mentioned, like soft hands, low target. I appreciate athleticism, and although I don't necessary believe in the framing stat, but I definitely believe that pitch framing is a skill.

      I think Pinto is fine, and I think he goes into spring training as the favorite to start, especially if he has a great camp. I just think that a lot will depend on reports they're getting on him from the veteran starters.
    1. DocBauer's Avatar
      DocBauer -
      Don't have personal experience watching him, but Matt Koch just really sticks out to me as a quality defensive and offensive backstop. Have a hunch he's going to round in to a really nice player.
    1. crapforks's Avatar
      crapforks -
      It seems lucky that the Twins signed two free-agent starters who have worked with several different catchers throughout their careers. Nolasco and Hughes will probably have a say in who is starting behind the plate for the Twins. At least initially.
    1. specialiststeve's Avatar
      specialiststeve -
      You could be right at your major league level but I do see it playing out a bit differently.

      I see Suzuki clearly as a mentor for Pinto. With Hermann being "also" at the show as the 3rd catcher and extra outfielder. We may start out of the gate with an extra pitcher and Hermann at AAA but he will be up fairly soon.

      Pinto 2 out of 3 days a week with Suzuki getting 2 starts a week.

      Pinto has shown the ability to play at the big league level and now is the time to start the kids playing and it might as well be him.
    1. Oxtung's Avatar
      Oxtung -
      A bit late on this but I've been away from the site for awhile (damn work...). I think it is interesting that you jumped Stuart Turner from the Appy league to the FSL. That seems very...unTwins like. I have certainly not been following the Twins minor league system as long or as closely as you. Is there a historical precedent for this? Did you jump him because he is so advanced defensively or because there just happened to be an opening at A+? A bit of both? Are you reading the tea leaves based on the minor league FA signings made thus far? I find it an interesting move so any incite you can offer is appreciated.
    1. Oxtung's Avatar
      Oxtung -
      I am a bit late but have been away from the site for awhile and am trying to catch up (damn work...). I find it very interesting and, given the meme "the Twins move prospects too slowly", very unTwins like that the Twins might jump Stuart Turner from the Appy league to the FSL. Is it because Turner is so advanced defensively? Because there was an opening in the organizational depth chart? Are you reading the tea leaves of minor league FA signings so far? Is there a historical precedence? You have been following the Twins minor leagues much more closely and longer than myself so any insight you could provide would be appreciated.
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