21 November 2012

2013 Minor League Free Agents: Catcher

One thing the Depot enjoys doing is looking at the edge of the playing field and finding potential plus value for next to nothing.  One area to look at as the season ends is the minor league free agent population.  In a series of posts, we will choose three or so players who appear interesting to us and give some background on them.


The Orioles lost Ronny Paulino to minor league free agency this year.  Paulino shows some interesting power and streaks of high contact.  He was picked up in response to Taylor Teagarden's injuries.  Optimistically, he even saw some time as the Orioles' designated hitter.  Over his career he has shown a strong platoon split with a +213 OPS in favor of hitting lefties.  Last year though, in limited time, he struggled against everyone.  If I was in another organization, I would be willing to give the 32 year old some playing time in AAA as the organization's third catcher, but lets look at some other options for the Orioles.

James Skelton, 28yo

Skelton does one thing pretty well...he walks.  The Tigers, the Diamondbacks, the Pirates, and the Nationals all tried to find ways to take advantage of that ability.  He began as a catcher and still catches, but his difficulties catching has led teams to trying to play him at second base and left field.  The bat will not work in left and the glove appears inadequate at second and behind the plate.  Still relatively young, I would be open to trying to give him more instruction behind the plate with the backup option letting him be a utility player.

Nevin Ashley
Nevin Ashley, 29 yo

Ashley shows more promise to me than Skelton.  Not that either has a lot of promise, but Ashley was able to flash long unseen power last year and a decent eye at the plate.  It was the first time since rookie ball that he showed any reasonable ability to hit a ball.  Based on his caught stealing numbers, he seems to have a good arm and earlier in his career he was awarded as the Rays best defensive minor leaguer and was often exposed to MLB squad pitchers in Spring Training.  It seems like a lot of the elements are in place for a pretty solid back up catcher.  It may well be he is a late bloomer or simply an older minor leaguer who had a good stretch.  As a Durham Bull, the Orioles certainly saw him play this year and likely have an established opinion on his capabilities.

Landon Powell, 31 yo

Powell, at one point, appeared to be a decent solution behind the plate for the Athletics.  He showed good power for a catcher, an ability to walk, and an absolute gun behind the plate (consistently eliminating 50% of those who dared to run against him).  Powell is a big body catcher checking in at 6'3 and 265 lbs.  Weight has been an issue with evaluators and has been a struggle for him.  After blowing out his knee in 2009, the power went away and his ability to eliminate runners also decreased from the low 50s to the low 30s.  It may well be his knee just cannot take the grind anymore and it affects his bat and his glove.  I would still like to give him a shot.

No comments: