MLB: AZ Diamondbacks Catchers
The Arizona Diamondbacks had many questions going into Spring Training 2015. One of the biggest revolved around the catchers’ position. Who would be their starting catcher for the 2015 regular season, who would be the back-up and would they keep three catchers.
After Miguel Montero was traded, Tuffy Gosewisch was the lone holdover from last season, with seven additional catchers invited to camp (Oscar Hernandez, Pete O’Brien, Gerald Larid, Jordan Pacheco, Matt Pagnozzi, Blake Lalli and Mark Thomas).
Hernandez, who was the Diamondbacks’ Rule 5 draft pick, impressed the coaching staff with his major-league ability behind the plate and his work ethic during Spring Training, and he looked to be a good bet on making the roster. However, he fractured his hamate bone in his left-hand and will be out for as long as ten weeks. Despite the injury, Hernandez can still remain in the organization and will be placed on the DL. When healthy, Hernandez will be sent to a minor league rehab assignment. When he is ready to come back to the majors, the Diamondbacks will need to keep him on the 25 man roster for the rest of the 2015 season. If he is not on the roster, he will have to be returned to the Tampa Bay Rays.
Peter O’Brien was sent to the minors last week for more “seasoning”. During batting practice in Spring Training, O’Brien was launching homeruns, but his bat never really showed up during the Spring Training games, when he only hit singles. He also struggled behind the plate, having issues throwing the ball back to the pitcher and throwing to second base on steal attempts. The organization still has high hopes for O’Brien, but he needs to work out some issues in both his offense and defense before he is major league ready. Don’t be surprised if O’Brien makes his major league debut in September; especially if the Diamondbacks are out of contention. O’Brien also could see time at first base and in the outfield.
Matt Pagnozzi, Blake Lalli and Mark Thomas will be sent out for reassignment, making utility man, Jordan Pacheco, the top candidate for a final bench spot. Pacheco can play corner infield spots, the three outfield positions, and catcher. However, Pacheco making the team is not a sure bet! It will depend on whether the Diamondbacks decide to keep an extra pitcher, instead of a position player.
The starting catcher battle came down to Gosewisch and Laird, with Gosewisch being named the everyday starter this past Monday. Neither guy was hitting well in Spring Training, but Gosewisch had the advantage because he is familiar with the pitching staff, having been on the team last year.
Laird does have more MLB experience overall, but he has not had more than 200 at-bats in a season since 2010. He will be called upon to provide leadership for Gosewisch and a young pitching staff.
Both guys are considered above average defensively and calling games, that will be needed this season. The Diamondbacks are hoping to get at least a .250 batting average and 10-12 homeruns, with 50+ RBI combined from them for the 2015 season.
Spring Training is winding down and Opening Day is April 6th at Chase Field against the SF Giants.
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