What’s Down On The Farm: The Catchers

By David Egbert

Jun 28, 2013; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays catcher

Jose Lobaton

(59) on the mound against the Detroit Tigers at Tropicana Field. Detroit Tigers defeated the Tampa Bay Rays 6-3. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

This is the first of a ten part series on what potential major league talent is down on the Ray’s farm. We will only deal with low A through AAA. Anything below low A is too raw to evaluate.

We will start with catchers. You can call it the curse of Buster Posey but there isn’t a lot going on for the Rays at this position. Let’s take a look.

DURHAM. Once upon a time Chris Giminez was in a battle with Jose Lobaton for the backup catcher position with the Rays. No More. Lobaton’s game has gone north and Giminez’s south. Gimenez is hitting .243, has been injured and keeps losing playing time to the likes of Craig Albernaz and Jose Flores. At this point, his only road to the show is as a 25th man utility player and not a primary catcher.

MONTGOMERY. Things don’t get  much better here. Some Rays personnel, maybe out of desperation, saw Mark Thomas as an up and comer. A great defensive guy if he could only hit a little bit. Well, he can’t. Sporting a .153 BA and a .477 OPS, he’s going nowhere. If that’s not enough, he has committed ten errors this year. I think it’s time to look somewhere else.

CHARLOTTE. Things look up a bit more in Stone Crab land. Curt Casali, picked up in a minor deal with the Tigers, has proved to be a pleasant surprise. He’s hitting .286 with a .797 OPS, doing well behind the place and made the All Star team. He may be a Jose Lobaton in the making. The only question he is why isn’t he catching more. The Stone Crabs rotate three catchers including career minor leaguer Jake DePew.  They also have once highly touted prospect Luke Bailey on the team. He’s hitting .178 and is slowly fading out of the picture.

BOWLING GREEN. A mixed bag here. Luke Maile is a sweet-swinging hitter and a league All-Star. The only question is whether he’s a catcher. He’s hitting .278 with a .728 OPS but his lack of catching skills may force him to another position. He alternates at the position with Justin O’Conner who was once paired with Luke Bailey as the catchers of the future. O’Conner has faired a bit better than Bailey but he’s still at low A after four years. It’s too soon to quit on him but he had better seriously punch up his game in the next two years.

That’s about it. Not a lot of good news at the the moment for the catcher position but that’s nothing new for the Rays. Better days may be coming as the have two impressive prospects at rookie ball but it’s far too soon to predict stardom for either one.