With today being the first official day of workouts for pitchers and catchers, I figured it was a good time to go over the players in camp who are not on the 40-man roster. Earlier today, I went over the pitchers. Here are the non-roster invitee catchers.
Cabrera is coming off a breakout season, where he won the Florida State League batting title with a batting average of .343. He is a switch hitter and hits equally well from both sides of the plate. Things will get interesting this year as Cabrera was always a level behind the organization’s top catching prospect, Tony Sanchez. However, Sanchez probably does not deserve a promotion this year and the two should now be at the same level. Somehow, playing time will have to be given to both players.
(For those interested, I saw Cabrera last season and have some video of him here. One thing you will immediately notice is his size, which is one reason why he doesn’t rank high on prospect lists.)
Fox is listed as a catcher on the Pirates website, but he has only played there in 32 of his 193 Major League games played. He’s more of a corner outfielder, but is capable in case of emergency to catch. Fox will be competing for one of the bench spots on the Pirates’ Major League roster and is coming off a 2011 campaign where he posted a .756 OPS.
Fryer had to be called upon last season with all the injuries the Pirates suffered at this position last year. He really didn’t get enough playing time though to come up with any conclusions. He is still someone who has only played 85 games above High-A ball and I was actually pleasantly surprised to see him clear through waivers when he was designated for assignment. So far, Fryer looks like he could have a future as a ML catcher, probably in the backup role. He’s a bit down on the depth chart still, but as we saw last season, who knows? He may be needed.
Morales is the guy to watch on this list as he will be directly competing with Michael McKenry for the club’s backup catcher. His defensive numbers thus far are astounding as he has caught 16 out of 31 attempted base stealers over 58 career ML games. He’s hit pretty well in AAA and has a .709 OPS in 252 career plate appearances at the ML level. Compare that to the .577 OPS McKenry has put up over 210 PA.
Sanchez, as you all know, was the 4th overall pick in the 2009 draft. Going into last season, it looked like the Pirates draft strategy of reaching for Sanchez was paying off. Last season, though, Sanchez’ stock took a hit when he hit .241/.340/.318. Now, due to Sanchez’ on base skills and receiving skills, he still projects to be a big league catcher. But that isn’t exactly what we are hoping for out of Sanchez. This will be a big season for him as he looks to regain his top prospect status.